How to challenge yourself

Lydia Nichols

I’m always up for a challenge.

I didn’t know anything about coding and programming 5 years ago, but I picked it up so that I can build Pikaland and many other projects since. I’ve found that the black and white world of programming (albeit I was merely doing it as an amateur) was an experience that was almost the opposite of creating art – it wasn’t subjective, it either worked, or it didn’t. Learning HTML, CSS and PHP among many other things was a challenge.

But it’s through challenging ourselves that we grow. We change as a result of stretching our capabilities beyond our comfort zone – I knew that I could learn so many new things if I tried hard enough, and if I was determined enough.

So how do you challenge yourself? Here’s how I did it, and how you can too:

Challenge yourself mentally.

How can you be better mentally? You need to do daily creative exercises. Things like drawing a bird 100 ways (or see here for a list of 100 things to draw). Or a face a day. Or list out 10 ways to market yourself better. Things that stretch the mind a little bit each day.

Creativity is a muscle that needs to be stretched constantly – otherwise it withers up and die.

Challenge yourself emotionally.

What are you afraid of? Take small steps that will help you get over the fear. Afraid of that blank piece of paper staring back at you? Make a mark – any mark at all. Just start.

To create great art, you need to be brave – throw out those emotions in your work and let your passion show. Find out what makes you tick. Explore themes in depth and bring your personality to the table.

Own your emotions.

Challenge yourself physically.

When I was in high school, I was juggling taekwondo, gymrama practice, and volleyball. I played hockey, and netball too. I ran, skipped and hopped my way around. In short, I love being active. In fact, when I don’t get to skip or exercise for a week, I’ll be feeling a little antsy. And then the mood swings begin. Which leads to frustration, and a vicious cycle of snacking.

The point is – make a point to exercise. I do it almost everyday. I try to do it once in the morning and another session in the evening. I skip rope, practice mat pilates and walk my four dogs. I follow the Nike Training Club app on my iPhone (I’m now on 1350 minutes!). I swear just a wee bit when I follow the routines, but I do so because it’s my way of venting and pushing my way past the pain. I feel stronger when I’m in control of my body.

So have you challenged yourself lately?

{Illustration by Lydia Nichols }
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3 thoughts on “How to challenge yourself

  1. Thanks for this post! Just what I needed to read… I’ve been trying to get up super early and try to challenge myself to draw for a couple of hours everyday, and sometimes I just don’t want to do it… but I still do. Not easy but totally worth it!

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