How To Challenge Yourself At Work (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar
Aug. 3, 2022

Find a Job You Really Want In

Challenging yourself at home can be reflected in your professional life. You will learn how to handle difficult tasks with ease. Since you are choosing to do something outside of your comfort zone, you are increasing your problem-solving skills.

When you are entering the job market, you will notice that many prospective employers are looking for talented individuals who thrive in the face of adversity and are willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.

There will be moments throughout the hiring process where you will be asked to pinpoint a specific time in your career where you had to face a challenge. This question is known as a behavioral question. The interviewer will want to know more about what makes you tick and how you handle certain situations.

So if you learn different ways to challenge yourself, then you will grow as a person. As an added benefit you can be ready to answer common interview questions about challenges you faced.

Key Takeaways:

  • Frame challenges with a positive mindset. See challenges as opportunities for growth.

  • Ways to challenge yourself include waking up early, getting regular exercise, and conquering your fears.

  • Setting SMART goals as challenges is a great way to monitor your growth.

  • Use the STAR method when answering interview questions about challenges you have faced in the workplace.


How to Challenge Yourself

Something you need to keep in mind is that the goal is to help improve your life by challenging yourself, not adding unwanted stress. Remember that it does not have to be complicated if you choose to do something challenging.

Simple things such as waking up earlier or committing a certain amount of time to hone in a craft can not only help you in the long run – it will give you a real sense of accomplishment.

There is nothing more gratifying than hitting your new goals. Completing the task will help elevate your mood and increase productivity.

10 Ways To Challenge Yourself

For those looking to impact your life positively, here are ten ways you can challenge yourself.

  1. Wake up early. Believe it or not, waking up earlier has a positive impact on your everyday life. Waking up early gives your body the chance to wake up completely before you need to start your day.

    This ensures that you will not feel groggy and tired for the rest of the day. Understandably, this might be hard for those who consider themselves night owls. However, getting up early will help set your internal clock, eventually leading you to better sleep.

  2. Set a reasonable bedtime. You know the old saying, “early to bed, early to rise.” This goes hand and hand with waking up early. This might be easier said than done. Most people have a hard time going to bed early.

    Going to sleep at a reasonable time can increase your overall health. After all, there is a reason people call it beauty sleep. Going to bed early can improve your skin condition, lowers your blood pressure, and help control your body weight. It also does wonders for your mental health. It reduces stress, improves your memory, and lifts your mood.

  3. Unplug from social media for a day. Let’s face it – everyone has become a victim of social media one way or another. Try challenging yourself by unplugging from the digital platforms and enjoy the world around you. Many people find it very liberating.

    When you take the time to unplug from social media, you are opening the opportunity to connect with someone close to you. Take the time to talk to your loved ones, go on a walk, spend some time with your pets. By disconnecting from time to time, you allow yourself to live a life away from the screen.

  4. Try a new hobby. Many people are afraid to try something new because of their fear of failure. Being able to push yourself to rise above the fear of the unknown will help broaden your mind. Try taking a painting class, dancing, or something that can help get those creative juices flowing.

  5. Write everything down. Believe it or not, writing everything down will help you hold yourself accountable. Often, people have a hard time dealing with their emotions. Many experts recommend writing as a safe space to help you deal with any emotional turmoil you might have.

    Writing also allows you to express yourself and organize your thoughts. It promotes active thinking and problem-solving skills. The next time you feel overwhelmed, try putting your thoughts on paper.

  6. Create a budget and cut back on the splurging. Keeping a budget can be challenging for some people. However, you must try to make an effort and organize your finances. Creating a budget helps prevent lousy spending habits and helps keep you from using the money you do not have.

  7. Commit to exercising during the week. One thing to keep in mind is that exercising is not only about losing weight. Similar to the bedtime routine suggested earlier, exercising can help with brain and memory functions. Studies have shown that exercising helps reduce stress and increase endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in your body and mind.

    The truth is that exercise is good for your overall health, improving your body and mind. This does not mean that you have to be in working out in a gym every single day. There are other alternatives to get your body moving: join a sports team, go dancing, do some yoga, do something that brings you joy.

  8. Conquer your fears. Now, this is a big one that might be easier said than done. Conquering a fear will be incredibly challenging and might take you a significant amount of time. However, nothing can bring you more personal satisfaction than looking at the thing you once fear head-on.

  9. Instead of becoming frustrated about a situation, learn to adapt. Sometimes people find it hard to let go of inevitable situations that are beyond their control. This can be increasingly frustrating. Though you might find it hard to do, the best thing for you and your state of mind is to let things go and learn to adapt to the situation.

  10. Learn to be honest with yourself. A lot of times, it is hard to accept certain situations. Some people would rather live in a fantasy world instead of facing the hard truth. Being honest with yourself will grant you the opportunity to deal with whatever problem head-on.

    It’s the only way you will be able to know what it is you truly want out of life. By being true to yourself, you will see your goals more clearly and find new ways to tackle every one of them. It will allow you to find your flaws and develop the skills you need to rectify them.

Why You Should Challenge Yourself

Sometimes people might feel like they are in a rut and find that their lives are less exciting than they once were. By challenging yourself, you will be expanding your horizon and embracing new opportunities in life.

While you might be comfortable staying within the confines of your routine, branching out and trying new things can bring forth new and exciting opportunities, such as personal growth and motivation.

Understandably, many do not like change. The reason for this is because they fear failure or the vast unknown consequences of their actions. Remember, to enact change, you will need to be open to facing different challenges head-on and accept that sometimes things do not happen the way one expects them to happen.

It is not about putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation – it is about identifying what is not working in your life right now and figuring out how to make it better.

Many people create SMART goals for themselves to identify and target specific goals in life. A SMART goal is a technique used by many small business owners and individuals to save time and energy. This is a tool that helps enhance productivity and increase the chances of positive results.

This does not mean that every single challenge you make has to be related to your job. Making even the smallest changes in your personal life can help improve how you see things and make life easier.

How To Answer Interview Questions About Challenges

Job interviewers like to ask behavioral questions that require you to describe how you acted in past situations. Your answer gives the interviewer a glimpse into your character. It is very common to be asked how you responded to challenges.

As you become comfortable with challenges in your life, you can become equally comfortable answering questions about challenges you faced.

Normally a job interview question about challenges will focus on ones faced in the workplace. When asked what challenges you have faced at work remember the following:

  1. Connect your answer to the job description. Tie your answer back to the job description. You want to highlight relevant skills with your answer. For example, if the job description asks for public speaking skills, talk about a time you had to speak if front of a very large audience.

  2. Be specific. Interview answers need to be specific. Give your interviewer context and results. Use specific information to focus your answer on your ability to handle challenges.

  3. Show how you succeeded. Your answer should conclude definitively that you know how to handle challenges. Your answer will show that you have succeeded in the past and you will do so again.

It is helpful if you can arrange your answer under the STAR method, which is Situation, Task, Action, and Result. In this method you will describe the situation, what you were tasked to do, what actions you took, and the result of your actions. The STAR method provides you with a logical framework in which to tie your skills to the question.

Final Thoughts

When you are looking to challenge yourself, it is essential that you also acknowledge that there are good qualities about the person you are.

When challenging yourself, you have to keep an open mind. It is not about trying to change every little detail and flaw about yourself. It is about accepting who you are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and allowing yourself the opportunity to grow.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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