Please Join Us!
When: July 3, 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. BST; 10:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Your Biggest Challenge
About This Week’s Chat
“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
Roger Crawford U.S. motivational speaker, Hall of Fame athlete
Challenges come in all sizes and they don’t discriminate. They’re often, but not always, uninvited. I mean, people don’t accidentally run marathons, do they? They choose to do it.
All major challenges have one thing in common, though: they never leave us unchanged. Chances are, we’ve all faced and overcome numerous challenges. Here are a few of mine…
Challenge 1: the Bully
One of my most unpleasant experiences was being bullied by a co-worker. I went to work each morning filled with dread and anxiety. I never knew what misery the day would bring. At times, I felt like resigning on the spot, but it would mean that the bully had won, and I refused to let that happen.
That experience taught me to be more tuned-in to how people around me treat one another, because I remember that sometimes all I wanted was for someone to stand up for me. It also resulted in me becoming more assertive in the workplace, once the whole saga was behind me.
Challenge 2: Relationships
Some of my most challenging experiences have been, without a doubt, coping with the ends of relationships.
After a 20-year marriage ended in divorce, everything in my life changed. I moved to another house in another city, I had to leave behind two beloved dogs, and I lost friendships along the way.
Each in itself would have been hard to deal with. But to suffer them all at once was close to cataclysmic.
Even today, 11 years later and happily remarried, I can still feel the distress and uncertainty I felt then. But I also hold on to what that experience taught me: I was stronger than I thought.
Challenge 3: Transformation
Anybody who has ever tried to lose a substantial amount of weight will know how tough it is.
First, you have to change the way you see yourself. Then, you have to change the way you think about your body, about food, and about eating.
You have to be disciplined in working toward a goal, while fighting your brain’s and body’s cravings for the food you used to eat. You also have to learn to block out images and advertising of food and restaurants.
I successfully lost 88lbs (40kg) and managed to maintain my weight to within 5kg of my ideal weight. It was a long and difficult process, but I learned to keep my eye on the goal.
I also learned not to let perceived pain (such as foregoing sugary, unhealthy food) dominate my choices. I learned that going to bed fat, dreaming I was thin, and waking up still fat was much harder than making healthy choices with long-term benefits.
Challenge 4: a Lesson in Discipline
One of my friends fasts a few times a year, for health reasons. He’s asked me before to fast with him, but I doubted that I had the discipline to do it.
Recently, I decided to join him on a fast. For six days I had nothing but water, and a limited amount of black coffee and tea. (This is not medical advice or an endorsement of any type of fast. Should you consider fasting, please talk to your doctor before doing so.)
The first day was fine. Day two was slightly harder. The third day was terrible. Thoughts of food and eating kept popping up all the time. I missed preparing food and I missed the ritual of my evening meal and how it signified the end of my working day. After the third day, it got easier even though I had to manage my thinking.
During my fast, I realized that while I was choosing not to eat, many people’s daily challenge is hunger due to a lack of food security.
If they eat today, it doesn’t mean that they’ll eat tomorrow. And if they don’t eat today, they have no idea how they’ll come by their next meal. It’s a challenge that will make a huge physical and mental impact on people – and it’s not one that they choose.
Challenge 5: Pandemic Pandemonium
I never thought that a deadly pandemic would strike the world in my lifetime. That’s something that had happened to my grandma, and might happen to my great-grandchildren. But in my lifetime? Never!
Yet, here we are – you and I – and it has happened to us. Many of us faced the challenge of a lockdown, many people lost their jobs. For others, a trip between the bedroom and the kitchen table replaced their daily commutes.
And, apart from still performing job functions, cooking and cleaning, many parents also had to homeschool their children.
Maybe more challenging than most other things was the lack of social contact. Going out for a coffee date with friends was out of the question, and so was a visit to grandpa and grandma. You had to make do with what technology had to offer.
Now that countries are starting to ease their lockdowns, there’s a new challenge on the horizon: living in a world where you don’t feel as safe as you used to.
You have to learn how to navigate this “new” world by changing your behavior. You now have to think about the physical distance between you and the next person.
Being the social creatures that we are, we are always scanning people’s faces – it’s instinct. But it’s difficult (if not impossible) to read people’s facial expressions when they’re wearing protective masks.
I think every person learned something about themselves during the pandemic. We’ve also learned that we sometimes need to change our behavior – not necessarily for our own good, but to protect people more vulnerable than ourselves.
Your Biggest Challenge
We can’t compare the pain we suffered as a result of challenges, because pain is deeply personal. However, we can learn from one another about how our challenges made us stronger.
In this week’s #MTtalk Twitter chat, we’ll be talking about our biggest challenges, and how they change us.
In our Twitter poll this week, we asked what mindsets or beliefs most often challenge you. Almost half of respondents voted for “feeling inadequate”! See all the options and results, here.
We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- What makes a challenge, a challenge?
- How do challenges change us?
- What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
- What mental strategies did you use to get through a challenge? Did they work?
- How did others help you to get through the challenge?
- What did your biggest challenge reveal to you about yourself?
- What is the one thing you’ll do next time you face a major challenge?
To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse. Some resources may be available in full only to members of the Mind Tools Club.
Are You a Positive or Negative Thinker?
How Resilient Are You?
Life After Job Loss
Dweck’s Fixed and Growth Mindsets
Understanding Your Locus of Control
Managing a Person With a Victim Mentality
Snyder’s Hope Theory
How to Join #MTtalk Twitter Chat
Follow us on Twitter to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat.
To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.