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How can we grow and challenge ourselves right now? Many of us are not working. We’re all forced to stay at home. We have to stay physically distanced from each other. We can’t travel. We’re limited in new experiences and having fun.
The year of 2020 I decided I was going to try new things that gave me new experiences and pushed my comfort zones. In March 2020 per my editorial calendar, I had finished writing a blog post on new experiences to try for bucket list ideas.
As I drafted and scheduled the article, with the impending news of quarantine, travel restrictions and businesses closing, I realized it was probably not a good time to post. I had to completely change my plan for future posts to better suit the current needs. I also had a float session I was excited to try out for the first time cancelled. My flight to a city and state I had never been to before was cancelled. My plan to try out therapy became unlikely after most businesses were shut down.
Many things have changed in our lives that are completely out of our control. The questions arise on what we can do. This is where our focus should be.
How can we make the most out of our time right now?
How can we come out of this better? What can we do to push our comfort zones despite being physically constricted?
In this article, I want to share with you 31 ideas for personal growth and comfort zone challenges that will help and push you to grow and learn, despite difficult circumstances to do so. The challenges are organized and separated by category – social, physical, lifestyle and mental/learning/creativity challenges.
1. Email/dm someone
Email or DM someone you admire or look up to. It could be a niche celebrity, author, blogger or leader/expert in your industry. Ask them a question or simply let them know how much their work or service impacted you.
2. Reach out and check in on someone
Send a thoughtful text or email to a friend, family member, coworker you haven’t spoken to in a while and see how they’re doing.
3. Compliment someone
Give a digital compliment to someone through text, phone or social media. Try to focus on giving compliments based on character, wit, intellect, skills, or humor rather than on physical appearances.
4. Send a thank you note
Send a thank you note (physical or digital) to someone who helped you out, whether recent or not. Even for little things and even for things that you paid for and those on behalf of others, like thanking them for how much they helped your child or for their service in the community.
5. Facetime someone
Facetime can be out of our comfort zone for many of us. However it’s the closest to face-to-face physical connection that technology allows. Set up a date with a friend, family member, romantic interest or long-distance partner.
6. Do something good for someone or your community
Many people are hesitant to help others out. They fear rejection of their kindness, they don’t know exactly what to do, or However, kindness has many benefits, not only for the giver and receiver, but even any onlooker as well! Here’s a list of ideas for random acts of kindness for you to try out.
7. Post something on social media
Post something that’s slightly out of your comfort zone on social media such as a video of you dancing or singing. Show vulnerability and connect with others in a more authentic way. Share more of you that you normally hide – your interests, humor, skills, etc. You may be surprised to engage more with like-minded people.
8. Take cold showers
Cold showers can help you build discipline of doing the hard things which builds grit and resilience. Doing the hard things is what leads to success.
9. Fitness challenges
Exercise pushes and challenges us both physically and mentally. It’s easy to just relax and do nothing. There are many different workout challenges you can find online depending on your goals and level. There are also challenges for things like yoga, flexibility, and bodyweight skills like handstands.
10. Wake up earlier
Try waking up an hour earlier than you already do. This builds discipline and it gives you an earlier start to the day. You’re more on control of your morning if you wake up before everyone else, especially if you have kids. If you’ve joined the 6am club, join the 5am club. If you’re in the 5am club, try 4am. If you’re already waking up at 4am every day, well… I don’t know what to tell you.
11. Cut out an expense / negotiate a bill
So many of us blindly have recurring expenses that we either don’t know about, pay way too much for or are not that important to us. Go through your expenses and eliminate things that aren’t that important to you or for things that you rarely use.
Of course, at this time we want to support the economy so we can focus more on cutting expenses that go towards multi-million companies. After cutting out expenses or if we don’t have any expenses to get rid of, try negotiating one of your bills such as internet, phone, or car insurance.
12. Automate your finances
Challenge yourself to set financial goals and automate your finances to reach these goals whether it’s paying off your debt, improving your credit score, automatically saving money every month or opening an investing account and contributing to it automatically. A book I recommend to help you get started with the basics of automating your finances is I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
13. No watching news
The news doesn’t really change our lives. Sure, it may “keep us informed,” but at what cost? Much of news is fear-based and is always developing so you rarely ever get the conclusion. It’s mostly people’s opinions about the news and future speculation.
Watching and reading the news is also not good for you. Reading books and learning about history and humanity helps us stay more informed and educated than news. Educated is better than being informed.
Another challenge you can try out is read the news from a year ago today or the year you born today. You will find a pattern of news that seems urgent, but doesn’t really matter anymore.
14. No (solo) entertainment
Try giving up entertainment for a whole day, a whole week or a whole month. Or make rules for entertainment. Earlier this year, I gave up solo entertainment which means no watching movies or tv shows by myself. I decided I would only watch movies when spending time with others. I used to watch a movie every night by myself before bed. Now, I read instead and I’m much happier with this.
15. Try a new diet
Challenge yourself to experiment with a new diet or different ones for periods of time. See how your body and mind reacts. How do you feel? Do you feel more energetic? You don’t have to be dogmatic with any particular diet.
It doesn’t have to be something major like going from meat-eating to vegan. It could be something as small as cutting out caffeine to see how your body reacts or wean off so your body is not dependent on it. Make changes that best suit your lifestyle and body and find out what works best for you.
16. Organization, decluttering or minimalism challenges
Clean out your garage. Declutter your stuff. Clean out and organize your closet. Check out this article for tips on how to transform your wardrobe, clean out your closet, and change your shopping habits.
You could also challenge yourself to donate clothes and other things to those in need, combining this challenge with #6. Win-win. Another challenge you could try is to learn some interior design basics and redecorate your place. Or even try out a minimalism challenge.
You could also get digitally decluttered and minimalized. Clean out your apps and organize your home screen. Get your inbox to zero. Organize your files.
17. Self-care challenges
Make sure you’re challenging yourself with taking care of yourself. Look out for future you. Spend more time outside. Go for a walk. Soak up the sun. Watch the sunset or watch the sunrise. Read a book or take your work outside.
18. Phone, social media, and tech challenges
We are so used to staying connected. Checking our phones, emails, news on twitter the first thing when we wake. We rarely have moments for silence and solitude. It’s important to take time to disconnect every once in a while to have more time for our relationships, more meaningful things and for our mental health.
Here are some ideas for technology challenges:
- Don’t use your phone for a whole day
- Don’t use social media for a whole day
- Don’t use your phone when around friends/family
- Delete your social media for a specific amount of time or indefinitely
- Don’t use your phone during work
- Don’t use your phone during creative activities
- Don’t use your phone, computer or tablet during certain hours (after waking up, before bed)
To learn how to control technology, phone and social media use, check out this article.
Mindset, learning and creativity challenges
19. Gratitude challenge
Challenge yourself to practice a gratitude habit. Record 5-10 things you’re grateful for every morning or evening. Multiple studies show many benefits including an increase in happiness for those who practice daily gratitude.
20. No complaining
Complaining is bad for you. It’s bad for your physical health, mental health, and work. Less is also a lot less enjoyable when you complain. Try going a full day without complaining! This is a great one to do as a family as well.
A great exercise to try is to wear something on your wrist and then every time you complain to switch it to the other wrist. This helps make you more conscious of the times you complain. You could also have a complaint jar where you contribute money to it every time you complain, kind of like a swear jar.
21. Reading challenges
Reading has a multitude of benefits. It’s one of the best things you can do for your mental health, personal growth and success in all areas of life. There are many different reading challenges you can try.
Here are some reading challenge ideas:
- Develop a reading habit every day
- Set a goal to reading a specific number of books within a timeframe (my challenge to myself is to read 50 books this year)
- Read a book on a subject you know nothing about
- If you normally read non-fiction, read a fiction book or vice-versa
- Read a book “above your level”
- If you want to master a subject, read 10 books on it
- Read books by people you disagree with
- Read a massive book (700-1000+ pages)
- Read a guilty pleasure book (this helps build enjoyment of reading rather than reading because you should or have to)
22. Learn a skill
Try learning a new skill within a month. Challenge your abilities. Try things you’ve never tried before or mastering things you’ve always felt you weren’t good at. Push yourself and experiment. For ideas on skills you can learn from home click here.
23. Cooking challenges
Learn how to cook or bake. Start with basics and then move on to more advanced meals. If you’re already experienced with cooking or baking, try cooking things you’ve never tried before. Try to cook meals out of your comfort zone. Learn recipes from different countries and cultures. Try out new foods. Experiment and make your own recipes.
24. Writing/Journaling challenges
Journaling has a tremendous amount of benefits including helping improve wellbeing after traumatic and stressful events, increasing your IQ, and reducing stress. It even helps wounds heal faster!
Keep in mind that we are also going through historic times. People are going to want to know what it was like to live through COVID-19, especially your children and their children and so forth. Consider the historical value and significance of Anne Frank’s diary.
You could start a daily habit of journaling. Or you could get a journaling notebook based on your goals and interests. You could also use any notebook you already have, look up different journaling prompts and try them out.
Here are some unique journals you can check out:
One Line A Day: A Five-Year Memory Book (5 Year Journal, Daily Journal, Yearly Journal, Memory Journal)
The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day
Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice
The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal
The Daily Stoic Journal: 366 Days of Writing and Reflection on the Art of Living
The Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs
25. Meditation challenges
Learn how to meditate. Start a daily meditation habit for a week or a month. Try out different types of meditation. Try out different meditating positions. Experiment and find what you enjoy most or what works best for you.
26. Make or build something
Challenge yourself to create something! Try out fun science experiments. Start a DIY project. Make yourself something or make a gift for someone else. The ideas on what you can make, create or build are limitless!
27. Solve a problem
Challenge your problem solving abilities. Learn to think outside the box. Find the solutions to your problems. You’d be surprised how the solution is found if you just try and put your mind to it. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. At least you tried and learned that it doesn’t work. Go back to the drawing board and try again.
28. Creative/artistic challenges
Artistically challenge yourself with your creative abilities! This is great if you want to start small with an artistic skill and work your way up. Or if you don’t know what to draw or paint. There are many drawing, painting, etc. challenges available that you can try.
29. Memory challenges
Test and challenge your memory with different memory games and challenges! This can also help improve your memory and retention skills as well.
30. Entrepreneurship challenge
This doesn’t mean go all out and start a business, although it can. Challenge yourself to come up with ideas and get creative with your ideas. Build the skills of creativity, innovation and finding solutions.
Here are some ideas:
- Make daily lists of ideas
- Make a list of skills or things you can help or teach others with
- Create a business plan
- Brainstorm ideas that could improve your work, society, or your life
31. Discipline/Routine Challenges
Many of us are now either not working or working from home. (Check out my productivity tips for working from home here.) This gives us a lot of time and freedom to set our own schedules and routines. Having structure and discipline for ourselves is incredibly important however.
Here are some ideas:
- Eliminate a bad habit
- Create a morning and evening routine
- Plan out your schedule – not just your work, events and tasks, but your free and downtime. Be intentional with it. For ideas on creative and meaningful ways to have fun instead of watching Netflix, check out this article.
Combine different challenges!
Many challenges can be combined and work well together. Try one out, try out a few or try them all out! All that matters is that you are challenging yourself and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to learn, grow and succeed.
“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits.”