why challenge is important in life

Hang me up a hammock in the forest and let me listen to the sound of birds and I’m content. Put on a romantic comedy and watch me laugh at all the inappropriate humor and I’m joyful. Take me on an easy stroll through the forest and you’ll see my shoulders relax. Heck, you could even sit me in front of my computer to write a blog like I’m doing now and I’ll be satisfied.

They all sound like fabulous ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. They are wonderful ways for me to relax and unwind, but they are not my idea of recreation.

You see, that word “recreate” simply means to “give new life to” yourself.  For me, the only way I’m re-creating myself is by expanding my knowledge of myself. And the only way that’s going to happen is by trying new things, pushing new limits, expanding my comfort zone, and honing in on new skills. 

Whether we make time for recreation or not, I think most of us love the outdoors:

  • We love the sound of the ocean crashing on the shore, birds and squirrels chirping, owls hooting, thunder cracking (hopefully in the far distance).  
  • Our eyes get caught staring longingly at golden beaches, turquoise waters, jagged mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and desert sunsets.
  • Our cortisol levels drop rapidly at the scent of pine needles, sea salt breezes, and water ions wafting off the falls. 

Our bodies need nature—to be soothed by its tranquility and embraced with its grandeur. 

But our minds need something greater. 

“Happiness is a ‘state of mind’ which we ourselves have the power to control – and that control lies in our thinking.”

~ Claude M Bristol
why challenge is important in life

What we know and how we think shape our happiness so much:

  • Understanding boundaries.  
  • Being able to step into the personal realm of I CAN and I CANT. 
  • Knowing instead of wondering.
  • Believing, because you’ve experienced and not because you’ve been told. 

It gives rise to reflection, inspiration, confidence, and fulfillment. 

And that’s why I recreate through challenge. A personal strife to push boundaries. To fail and reassess. 

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First, bring more awareness to your current challenges that aren’t serving you.

The things like sitting too long in traffic each day, fighting with your three year old over what they want to wear to preschool, feeling like a chicken with your head cut off trying to make a healthy dinner at 7pm when everyone is starving. 

Those are the life challenges that we are used to dealing with. It’s reality and you can’t just snap your fingers to make them go away, but you can change them. You can eliminate some truly non-essentials, get more organized, and reprioritize where your energy goes.

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Power draining challenges aren’t the right kind of challenges.

I know for me, especially when we lived in a house (did you know I lived in an RV for 3 years), I can easily get stuck in the kitchen all day. I have to consciously choose to leave it a mess or make extra meals on Sunday so that I can hit the trail or climb a new route during the week. 

Second, what type of challenge should you invite into your life

why challenge is important in life

So you’ve decided you are going to go to work from 10-6 so you don’t have to sit in traffic, your husband will take your three year old to preschool (in whatever she wants to wear), and dinners in the crock pot and will be ready when you get home at 7.  Now what adventure are you going to do before work?

I know, it’s easy to just go for a run, do yoga, or workout and you should do that some days, but you need a challenge. A reason to get stronger, lose some sleep, let the dishes pile up. You need something that will take all your awareness from all that faux challenge of running errands, feeding kids, earning money and funnel it into the most primal feeling in the world…survival. 

I’m not saying you should almost die everyday, but you need a challenge that requires enough focus to not get hurt. 

  • I know when I’m surfing and paddling through the white wash I’m not thinking about my grocery list. I’m hoping the set rolling in isn’t going to crash right on my head.
  • And when I’m leading a climbing route I’m not thinking about my kids’ homework. The only thing I notice is the feel of the rock under my fingertips, the weight in my toes, and the loud thumping of my heart as I nervously clip my next draw. 
  • And I sure as heck ain’t worrying about finances and budgets as I’m rolling over roots and rocks on a challenging mountain bike trail. 
Reason to Visit Hossegor, France surfing
Robyn surfing Hossegor, France

Adventure DOES NOT mean an outdoor activity. But it can.  In fact, the only reason the word adventure is associated with the outdoors is because lots of outdoor sports have tendency to bring challenge and that’s the true meaning of adventure—newness.  And in newness there’s is no such thing as comfort, only challenge.

There are so many sports to choose from. Start small but start with a challenge. And don’t worry where someone else is. It’s your journey. Take it in small steps. Which brings up the last lesson.

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Third, set goals, measure success, fail often, and repeat. 

That’s not to say you have to excel in a perfectly linear fashion, but you do need change even if your change is minuscule or just a change in your own belief system

I know my belief system is constantly changing. Yeah, it makes it hard sometimes for people who’ve known me a long time to keep up with me, but it also makes it harder for them to put me in a box-and that I love! 

We are allowed to change. We are supposed to change. Change is good. It’s freeing. It’s empowering. It’s scary. 

Camping Hawaii Malaekahana Oahu
Watching the most amazing sunrise at Oahu’s Malaekahana Campground

But fear is a good thing. Let it be your friend. 

Sometimes, when I get scared, I totally freak out. Yep, I go off the deep end, but then, I live through it and it totally changes my perspective, skyrockets my confidence, and motivates me to write blogs like this to tell you to GO SCARE YOURSELF MORE OFTEN.

I know facing fears isn’t an easy thing to do.  This whole challenge thing in general isn’t an easy thing to do.  But because of that, we created an entire online school for those who know they want the challenge but have trouble facing the challenge. I know facing fears isn’t an easy thing to do.  This whole challenge thing in general isn’t an easy thing to do.  But because of that, we created Adventure Bigger University, an entire online school for those who know they want the challenge but have trouble facing the challenge.

best adventures northern Spain, Valle de Nuria
Valle de Nuria was one of our all-time favorite hikes.

If that sounds like you, Adventure Bigger University is your new best friend.  Did I mention ABU is FREE? If you need help with approaching newness, facing fears, and challenging yourself, click here and go join our self-paced, free online course to start living a more adventurous life.

To sum up why you need challenge…Repeat after me: 

“To be a happy, fulfilled, self reliant human being I need to create NEW challenges in my life so that I can get scared, a little tingly, and maybe pee my pants every so often so that I can see what I’m made of.

At first I might fail often, but then, when I get that win, I’m going to be so stoked and my newfound confidence will radiate into everything else I do.

You might even catch me singing while doing dishes because that two second ride on that wave was so fun that I can’t wait to go try again and see if I can get a three second ride. Ya know, the outdoors and nature are nice, but this challenge crap…it’s EPIC.”

why challenge is important in life

Share you challenging experiences with us by tagging #BraveForAdventure (cuz that’s what it’s all about) and get featured on our Instagram account!

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why challenge is important in life