Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Into the Growth Zone With a 12-Week Personal Challenge

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Two weeks ago I completed the 75 Hard challenge. For 75 days straight I did the following every day:

  • Completed (2) 45-minute workouts, one outside
  • Drank 1 gallon of water
  • Followed a diet with no cheat meals
  • Took a progress picture
  • Read 10 pages of a non-fiction book

It was exciting to see how much weight I’d lost, the improved mental toughness I had, and especially that I didn’t enjoy sweets anymore. To say that 75 Hard changed my life would be an understatement. But these are nothing compared to the biggest benefit I discovered.

This huge life-changing tool I got from this challenge was unexpected, especially because it came from the major flaw I saw in 75 Hard: It was too focused on just one area of life — the physical. It didn’t promote flourishing in the spiritual, social, intellectual, or financial areas of life.

As I got partway through the challenge I found myself asking myself if I could create something like it, but more balanced. I began thinking:

What would happen if you challenged yourself to work on your spirit, heart, mind, and body for at least 30 minutes every day for 12 weeks straight?

How would my life change if I got up at the same time every day and spent 30 minutes on each of these major areas of life?

This is when it hit me that 75 Hard was good for me not only for all the physical and mental benefits but because it gave me the perfect template that I could use to create my own personal challenge. I had gained the skill of challenging myself, and however I wanted to do that was now up to me.

There’s something extremely powerful that happens when you commit to doing something every day for a certain number of days in a row. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like a well of motivation to excel, compete, and be better. I’d felt that during 75 Hard and I wanted to feel it again.

I took this tool I’d discovered and created my own personal challenge, which I’m working on right now. Instead of following what worked for Andy Frisella, I used it to do what would make the biggest impact on my life. 

Instead of 75 days, I’m going to be consistent with my commitments for 12 weeks, or 84 days, because that’s how often I plan my goals. 

And rather than committing to five critical tasks that focus mostly on the physical, I’m doing one in each area of life plus one additional task that I chose myself. My 12-Week Personal Growth Challenge, as I’m calling it, consists of the following daily commitments:

  • Wake up at 6:19 am
  • Spend 30 minutes working on my spirituality
  • Spend 30 minutes with another person
  • Publish a blog post
  • Exercise for 30 minutes

I’m already one week in and it’s significantly better for me than 75 Hard. Although 75 Hard did get me out of my comfort zone and into my growth zone, this challenge is the best way for me to stay in that growth zone because these commitments are what I need, not something that somebody else told me to do.

How to Make Your Own Personal Challenge

“Challenge yourself; it’s the only path which leads to growth.”

Morgan Freeman

Making your own personal challenge can be as easy as including these two components:

  1. 3–5 daily critical tasks
  2. The number of days you’re committing to these tasks

Once you have them, simply pick a day and begin. Science suggests that you start at the beginning of the week, month, or quarter to take advantage of the feeling of starting fresh. 

The difficult part is going to be deciding what your tasks will be and actually sticking to them. But I’ve got a few tips to help.

Deciding on Your Daily Critical Tasks

Start by identifying the areas of life that you want to improve. If you want to use mine, you can. Here they are again:

  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Physical

I added one other — waking up early — because I want to become an early riser. Another reason for this additional task is because I know that completing the others is going to be much easier if I give myself the time to do them! 

I challenge myself in all of these areas because they are the critical pillars upon which all success and happiness depend. If each of these is doing well, your life will flourish. When one falters, you have to take time and energy from the others to nurture it.

But even more than that, these areas all feed each other. When your social connections are strong, you’re happier, which makes you succeed more at work, for example. When all areas are strong you get into an upward spiral of growth.

You might want to modify the specifics of these areas and that’s okay. If you have one that needs a lot of attention, you might want to focus two or three of your critical tasks on it. 

Use what you’ve been working on in the past to help you come up with your tasks. If you haven’t worked on improving yourself in a while, identify your dream life and what will get you there, then commit to those action steps.

You don’t need to spend forever on this because action is better than planning, which we’ll get to next.

Sticking to Your Daily Tasks

The whole point of a challenge is to see how many days in a row you can go without stopping. By putting a number to it, you add accountability, which keeps you motivated to stick it out to the end. So a personal challenge is already extremely helpful in keeping you going.

But there will be days that you struggle. You’ll get sick, be tired, or just not feel like doing your daily tasks. It helps to get the right perspective, though, by understanding that imperfect action is better than striving for perfection. 

The more reps you do, the easier it will become because you’ll get better. Nobody writes 50 bad blog posts or goes on 50 bad runs. They have 10 or 20 crappy ones and then they improve.

Those first few reps and many after them will be messy, and that’s okay. It’s important that they are and that you persevere through them anyway because that’s how you grow. 

You will grow faster by taking imperfect action than you will by trying to be perfect at every task.

This is the mindset I’m taking into my personal challenge, and it’s doing wonders for keeping me motivated. And as Millard Fuller puts it:

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.”

I’m also taking time to practice mental exercises so that this becomes a way of thinking. I recite mantras to myself and envision myself doing the work, even if it’s imperfect. Implement what I’m calling “Thinking Practice” to practice positive thinking and this will all go more smoothly.

Accept imperfection and have an action-first mindset and sticking to your daily tasks will be much easier.

Wrapping Up

Personal challenges help you grow and flourish, but they’re also a lot of fun. I’m really enjoying how I feel after completing each of my tasks. It builds my confidence to see myself following through with these commitments. I’m excited about the changes that I’ll experience throughout the next 12 weeks. 

The life-changing power in a personal challenge comes from how it gets you out of your comfort zone and into your growth zone.

Take advantage of this by setting your own daily tasks, committing to a number of days you want to do them in a row, and getting yourself into the growth zone with your own personal challenge!