How To Take Hard Challenges And What Are The Benefits Of Hard Challenges

The first challenge, which I started January 1, is jumping into a cold pool everyday with two of my sons. We do some Wim Hof-style breathing before we dive in, then count 3-2-1 and jump into the air! It has shown us that we can do hard things every day, and has been a meaningful bonding experience for us.

I’m still forming the other challenges (vote for what I should do in this quick survey) … but here are some others I have in mind, 40 days each:

  • Zen sewing (sew a rakusu)
  • Write a book in 40 days (in public)
  • Record a podcast a day for 40 days
  • Meditation retreat in silence
  • Learn a language (probably Chamoru)
  • Launch something every day for 40 days
  • Sleep outside
  • Martial arts
  • Fasting
  • Ego eradicator (hold a difficult pose)
  • Eat only lentils & kale
  • No Internet except creation & calls
  • Public speaking
  • Navy SEAL-style physical training

I’m going to pick 8 of these to do after my cold swimming challenge — again, you can help me pick with this quick survey.

I’ll keep a log of how these go, and post about it periodically here on Zen Habits!

The Challenges of Hard Challenges

Of course, we have to acknowledge that these don’t come without a cost. All of the following challenges can be overcome — and I’ll be sharing how to do that — but there are difficulties that we should be aware of:

  • We’ll come up with reasons not to do it
  • Resistance is real, and can be hard to work with!
  • The ego will get in the way — not wanting to look bad in public, for example, or not wanting to not know how to do something
  • We can get tired and want to give up after awhile
  • We can white knuckle it and force our way through it, but not enjoy it
  • Completing it can be about the ego as well, wanting to look good is a real danger
  • On the other hand, the feeling of not being good enough can also be triggered
  • When we get hit in the face by discomfort, we’ll get a strong urge to collapse
  • We’ll find a lot of other activity to do instead
  • Perfectionism can often come up and get in the way
  • Our minds will complain a lot about it!
  • We can also get to overwork, exhaustion, overdoing it

These are some of the main challenges. And they are real. And they are wonderful teachers.

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How To Take Hard Challenges And What Are The Benefits Of Hard Challenges


Written by Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger & author. He created Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog with a million readers. He’s also a best-selling author, a husband, father of six children, and a vegan. In 2010 moved from Guam to California, where he leads a simple life.
He’s also a Zen student, and is on a mission to help the world open through uncertainty training.
Buy his books here

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