Learn Your Limits by Challenging Yourself

Some people prefer the approach of setting limited goals or tasks each day to keep them focused on their priorities. I am not one of those people.

I don’t believe in narrowing the scope of my day to what can realistically be done, looking at extra time as some sort of bonus. I believe in pushing myself — not to the point of pain or burnout, but to the point of being challenged. After all, if you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never know exactly how much you can achieve.

When I’ve shared my to-do lists in the past for accountability’s sake, they could look pretty obscene. You might find dozens of tasks there on any given day — client projects, blog posts, admin, publishing work, etc. And I’d get an absurd amount finished most days. But the intention has never been to finish everything on my lists.

If I can finish a list in a day, I consider that day a failure — not because I didn’t do enough, but because I didn’t challenge myself enough.

Not everyone works well this way, and that’s OK. But I need that challenge. I need to know what my limits are, both so I can grow past them and so I know when to stop so I don’t push myself in unhealthy ways.

For the past few years, I haven’t felt nearly as productive — in part due to health problems, in part due to devoting time propping up someone undeserving more than focusing on myself. Things have been getting better this year. I got my first taste of the “old me” in February when I finished a quarter’s planned tasks in about two weeks. It was a sign that it was time to step things up again — time to get back to challenging myself.

Work Challenges for Solopreneurs

One of my favorite ways to push myself and see what I’m capable of is by focusing on a monthly challenge structure.

This is one of my favorite parts of self-employment. We set our own agendas and operate on our own schedules. Challenges let me make a bit of a game of things.

This May is an exciting month for me, partly because of some things I can’t yet disclose, but also partly because I’m making the month about the “old me” again. I don’t want that success and insane productivity to be a fleeting thing. I want it to be my norm again.

I’m combining several challenges this May. But if you think this approach might work for you, why not just try one to start?

For example, you might:

  • push yourself to reach a new income goal (or word count goal if you’re a writer like I am);
  • challenge yourself to overhaul your professional presence in a month (or just revamp your website, or focus on search engine results);
  • see if you can complete the same amount of work in less time (such as moving to a 4-day work week like I have for years, giving you an extra day for hobbies, rest, or passion pursuits).

I have plenty of reasons to start this month excited. I wish I could share all the specifics with you. But because I can’t yet, I at least hope to encourage you to see some of that excitement for yourself.

It’s easy to get bored with the repetitive things involved in running a business. Why not start making the changes you’ve long dreamed about or challenge yourself to do something new or different instead?

Are you up for a challenge this month? If you’d like to share yours, feel free to do so in the comments. As for me, it’s time to dive into my broad business overhaul plan, another incredible challenge I hope to be able to share in the future, and seeing if there’s any of the “old me” left in there.

Good luck!

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