38. The Art of the Challenge

Hello, Diva listeners! What is your favorite part of Fall?  I love the smell of cinnamon and cloves.  I love going into the store and they have those giant bins of cinnamon-drenched pinecones and oh the feelings and memories that come up when you pass by them.  I love putting cinnamon and clove oil in my hot chocolate. It’s like cinnamon and cold weather are synonymous, don’t you think?

This is the time of year that you may be starting to think about your New Year’s resolutions and where you want to level up in your life.  Maybe that won’t be hitting you for another month or two or maybe you’ve given up all together on goals because you’re tired of starting over.  Do you have something that you’ve just been dying to accomplish or have been dying to do for years and just can’t seem to get there?

Maybe you’ve been wanting to free the last 10 pounds of fat off your body or maybe more. Or maybe you just want to build strength and flexibility and you’re going into your later years of life. Maybe you’re struggling to work with a family member. Maybe you’ve got a teenager that’s a lot less fun to live with lately or a spouse or an in-law who you just can’t seem to connect with. Maybe you’ve got a change in career that you’ve been wanting to do or advance in the company you’re currently in. All of these things can be a challenge and can feel heavy or stressful and perhaps daunting.

Are you ready to try it again? I’ve got some sure-fire ways to help liven up this challenge and get you moving back towards a person that you’ve been wanting to become. I’m talking about the art of the challenge.  Challenges can be hard, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If the challenge is overwhelming, then the odds of finishing go way down. You’ve got a lot of things going on in your life and change is a hard thing. And a fair amount of focus is required to achieve your desired goal.

Part of the art is to make sure your challenge isn’t overwhelming.  A certain amount of stress is actually good for your brain, but there’s a difference between stress and overwhelm. Your lower brain is working all day long. When you’re stressed your adrenaline levels rise and your toddler brain triggers a chemical that alerts your adult brain to kick in and increase focus so you can achieve the task at hand. However, when you’re stuck in overwhelm, that chemical doesn’t kick in and your lower brain just continues to tantrum and cause you to think there isn’t a solution. So if you’re feeling like you can’t breathe or at the very least your brain has convinced you that there’s no way out, then you may be experiencing overwhelm. 

The fastest way out of overwhelm is to target the thoughts that are causing you to feel that way and coach your way out of that.  Now, that’s easier said than done.  So if you’re at that point, schedule a free session with me and we can work through that to get you moving again.  That link to schedule is in the show notes.

If you’re feeling stress, that’s okay, your adult brain will kick in and you’ll feel yourself focusing in to level up and get results.  Do you know someone who performs well under pressure?  It’s because they’ve trained their brain to kick up the intensity when it’s needed.  Each time you successfully do this, when you sleep, the neuroplasticity in your brain increases and it’s easier and easier to reach that level focus.

Honestly, I could geek out on brain science all day, but that’s not what this podcast is about so let’s move on to making your challenge more like a piece of art. More like something that you will enjoy and that will motivate you instead of cause you to wince every time you think about it.

This is the most fun part of mastering the challenge. Literally! Ask yourself, how can I change my thinking on this to make it fun? I’m going to give you an easy example first.  When my husband and I are taking the dogs for a walk, it is quite the event. The 1st mile around the neighborhood, my dog is on patrol! She is looking all around, smelling the air and on alert for anything new or dangerous. My daughter’s dog on the other hand, whom we’ve lovingly nicknamed, zigzag, is going back and forth from the park strip to the yards making sure that she can smell everything and leave her mark as often as she can. Trying to get keep the two leashes untangled can be quite the challenge and at times it looks like my husband and I are dancing working around each other and swapping the leashes.

So it’s almost like we get a double challenge here because, one, we’re trying to get our exercise in and give our dogs a walk, but two, we’re trying to stay upright while keeping the leashes untangled.  Now I can choose to get annoyed with it and allow it to frustrate me because honestly, a walk shouldn’t be as complicated as they are making it, right?  Or I can choose to see it more as a game and make it fun. Sometimes I do quite a bit of laughing on our walks because of it, but guess what? I’m getting my exercise in and I’m having fun. I can think of no better way.

Besides your thinking, how can you make something fun?  When my life starts to get really busy, my dishes start to pile up on the counter because I was only getting to them once or twice a week. I don’t like to see them piling up, but I also thought that I didn’t have time to do it. Then I put my brain to work and figured out a way how to make it fun, because yes, I like to have the dishes done, but no I don’t like to be the one that does them. Shocker, right!?!

So, one day, I decided that as I am heating up my water in my electric kettle for my hot chocolate in the morning that’s my timer to see how fast I can either unload the dishwasher or load it or both. I’d say I’ve got 5 to 7 minutes to see how much I can get done before it’s ready. Do I get finished? Usually not. Especially if I have pots and pans to wash, but my sinks have been clearer, and my countertops have been cleaner doing it that way.

And I like the challenge to see how much I can get done before my time’s up. It excites me to push myself to see how far I can get before the timer goes off. So that’s one way how I took something that was not all that desirable to do and changed it into something fun.

Now, I could’ve just worked on my thoughts and decided that yes, technically I do want to do the dishes because I want to have a clean house and the dishes are not holding me hostage in any way to feeling good. That work is important! But my thoughts changed from Ugh! I have to do the dishes, to this is going to be fun!

Ask yourself, what makes things fun for me? Not how can I make this specific thing fun, because your brain may take liberty to debate with an entire monologue of why this is not fun. So, start with what makes things fun for me? Put that brilliant brain of yours to work and start figuring that out first. It might not come to you in one sitting. You might need to go through your day just asking that one question, what makes things fun for me?

For me, personally, I like to challenge myself. It’s one of my weaknesses that I am turning into a strength. What’s that weakness?  I see my value as a person based on my accomplishments. However, I’ve done the work to get through that and although my default brain continually tries to remind me that if you don’t excel in this thing, you’re worthless, I choose to see that thought and trash it. Now I just use my inherent inner drive to motivate myself to see how far I can go.

Not because I think it’ll change my worth as a human being, but to see what I’m capable of. To push my potential to my limits. And maybe you’re thinking, seeing how many dishes you can get done within 5 to 7 minutes? Is that really trying to push your potential? For some of us, maybe. Each of us are at different points in our lives and have different tolerances and different abilities and capacities.  So if it has to start that small and that’s the only thing you can do then, yes. You decide for yourself where you’re at and what you can do. Point is, I don’t like doing dishes, but dishes needed to get done. So I was willing to put my brilliant brain to work to figure out how I could do it and how I could have fun doing it.

So, what makes something fun for you? When you play games, why do you play them? Is it because you like to socialize with people or is it because you like to win or is it because you like to see how far you can push yourself to greatness? It doesn’t matter your reason. What matters is you figure out, what’s going to get you the results that you want?

Another part of building a masterful, accomplishable challenge is by word swapping. Our inner dialogue is so important because our inner dialogue starts becoming our outward actions. There is a cool brain hack that I learned from Marie Forleo and I just had to share it! She talks about how she got so overwhelmed in her career that she’d dread getting up in the morning. Every time she’d wake up thinking, I can’t do this anymore! I don’t want to do this! And then one day, as she was just feeling so overwhelmed, the words that she feels were God-given came to her. “I don’t do overwhelm.” It was like a lightning bolt to her soul. This small word swap changed everything for her. Linguistically, putting the words, I don’t do, in front of a feeling or habit that you’re wanting to change is now science backed by Vanessa Patrick’s research.  She found that people who said “I don’t” were empowered three times greater than saying “no” and eight times greater than saying, “I can’t”.

So crazy right! And amazing! For her it was the feeling overwhelm.  For a friend of hers, it was feeling guilt. I don’t do overwhelm.  I don’t do guilt.  So take what you’re struggling with most and use that beautiful brain of yours to change your trajectory. Maybe you’re struggling with body love right now. When you catch yourself looking in the mirror and putting yourself down, don’t come back with I can’t talk to myself that way. You come back with “I don’t talk to myself that way.” If you decided you’re not going to eat sugar for a few weeks, when something that looks yummy and sweet shows up in front of you and your default brain tries to convince you you have to have it, you can either have this long drawn-out conversation with yourself about why you can’t have it or you just tell yourself I don’t do sugar right now. It’s amazing how those few words can instantly change your feelings.

Empowering yourself feels so good! Yes, maybe that does sound simple, but try it. Try it and keep trying it until your brain is finally rewired on it. They’re called hacks for a reason. I Challenge you to try it.  I don’t do (fill in the blank).

Here’s the most important thing. I was trying to decide if I should tell you this first or last, but I figure putting it last means it’ll be the last thing you hear and might stick with you the most. It’s what will keep you going when it gets hard.  It’ll be your anchor in this whole thing. Why do you want to accomplish the goal? Why does it matter to you? Now you’ve really got to think about this. You really need to find something that literally stirs within your soul, that’ll motivate you to keep going.  Some term it as your why, some call it your compelling thought or your compelling reason. You can call it whatever you want as long as it is going to keep you moving when you think all is lost or when your brain is trying to tell you to give up.

And it really is an important piece of the puzzle. Imagine someone who’s been trying to quit smoking for years, but they just can’t seem to do it very long-term. But then they go to the doctors, and they’re told that they have lung cancer. They tell them that if they do all the treatments and stop smoking, they have a high chance of survival. However, if they continue smoking, they only have one year left to live. This is very compelling to want to never pick up a cigarette again knowing that if you do you are literally signing your death sentence.

And for someone who might not care to live, then that won’t be compelling, but see the difference between the two? So your first step in mastering the art of the challenge is to find at least one thing, one belief, one desire that you can remind yourself of and that’ll keep you going. Maybe you write that down and put that on your mirror. Maybe you take a picture of it and make it your phone wallpaper. Or your phone’s lock screen picture. And halfway through the challenge if you find something else that’s even more motivating, change it. You change that compelling thought as many times as you need as long as it’s creating an intense desire within you.

Are you excited to give your goal another try, yes or yes? How can you change the way you’re thinking about it?  How can you make it fun? What will you no longer do? Remember, I won’t do (fill in the blank).  Even if it’s just temporary. Is your reason so deeply embedded that it becomes a part of you?  You’ve totally got this and I can’t wait to see the masterpieces you create!

Remember, no matter what, you are loved!

Have a great week!


If you’re looking for a life coach, I’d love to be yours.  If you want to lose weight, better your relationships, or need help with crafting your confidence, I’ve got you!  go to myinnerlove.com and sign up for a free mini-session today.

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