(I first wrote this for Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling, a blog for women in business. You can check it out here.)
What’s your next big challenge? And when you think of it, do you feel like jumping for joy, or do you want to run for the hills?
Most have a love-hate relationship with big challenges. Here’s why: they give us a true opportunity to grow and expand, and most change who we are in some way.
Saboteurs hate that.
“What are saboteurs”, you ask?
Saboteurs are voices in our heads that feed us negative self-talk. They say things like: “you’ll never pull this off”, or “who do you think you are?” and the negativity can worsen with stress.
Your true self, however, is the one who knows you’re lovable and learning, and that your best is good enough. She’s the one whose heart is all in, and has the courage to reach for the stars, because a meaningful challenge is worth the try.
That part of you is a source of unlimited strength.
This is why it’s a love-hate relationship. Our best self wants to step on the gas, following a dream of possibility, and our saboteurs want to pull the emergency break. Two parts of us, motivated in opposite directions.
In reality, both parts want what’s best for you.
But when it comes to your saboteurs, they’re misguided. The main objective of those negative voices is to keep you safe, and in all likelihood, they did keep you very safe from harm… when you are little tike.
But you’ve grown since then, and they haven’t. Now, all they know is how to keep things the same. Sameness is sweet nectar to them. By saboteur logic, if your life is miserable now, making yourself vulnerable in order to change would be worse. They only see possibility for negative outcome.
Everything your true self will want to do to trust, expand, and step into personal power will be feared and fought by saboteurs.
They just can’t be expected to get on board with your next biggest challenge.
That’s why you’ll want ignore them.
(And we should note: saboteurs are useful in life-or-death situations, so we want to honor their existence (and thank them for saving us in the past). But if your biggest challenge yet isn’t life threatening, give yourself permission to park your saboteurs at the tot-lot while your bigger, stronger, adult self chases your dream.)
Another important aspect of preparing for your next big challenge is to build the dream you’ll be focusing on.
This part can help you keep those saboteurs at bay, because when we connect with our heart’s most generous desire for ourselves and the world, we start buzzing with positive momentum.
And, when we come up with an intention that really, really means something to us, all our actions start to follow this intention… and create the outcome we want.
For example, I have a friend whose looking to quit some bad habits that are affecting her health. She’s got concerns about them, but hasn’t been managed to change in the last several months, despite her wanting to.
Her life is in change, and stressors are darting at her in succession. But she’s also been experiencing incredible joy: she’s engaged to be married soon, and planning to get pregnant.
In the midst of all this change, her perspective has been: “I gotta just get through this.” Meaning, “I gotta just quit these habits that aren’t good for me, along with all the other stuff I have to do.”
But “just getting through it” isn’t a very powerful perspective for her. It’s the equivalent of setting the bar at survival. It’s also motivation based on a “should”. That’s saboteur territory.
Saboteur motivations sometimes create temporary change, but they never take us beyond where or who we are now. Only powerful dreaming and courage do that.
For example, when my friend stepped back to think about what this challenge actually means to her personally, a different source of motivation emerged.
She started to consider: “What’s really important to me? What does getting pregnant mean to me, and what do I want my pregnancy to be like?”
“What does “quitting habits I don’t like” really mean, in terms of the life I’m creating for myself?”
For my friend, quitting her habits could symbolize a doorway she’s about to walk through, beyond which her life changes in a positive way. She gets to dream up what’s on the other side of that doorway.
That way, every healthy choice she makes now actually moves her into her dream.
So, her choices could represent leaving reactionary thinking behind, and embracing a whole new attitude of putting her wellbeing first, so she can enjoy everything she loves about her life right now.
Or, her new choices could mean she’s strengthening her body so she can feel calm and confident before its biggest and best challenge yet- pregnancy and motherhood.
Or, for her they could mean she’s choosing a new path of listening to her physical, emotional, or spiritual needs from here on in, so that she can model that for her future child, as well.
Whatever my friend truly longs for, whatever dream fills her heart with energy- that’s the one that will carry her into a new way of being. That’s the one that will motivate her to meet her challenge, and create lasting change along the way.
I like to do this for myself, and I like to see my friends doing it, too. We all deserve the love and the life we want, and we can generously create both for ourselves.
Can you see how this relates to you?
Your biggest challenge yet isn’t just about success or failure. It’s an opportunity to expand into who you are becoming, and how you want to shape your life.
Whether it’s the presentation you have to give on Friday, the exam you need to pass next week, or the tough conversation you’ll be having tomorrow- your challenge can be the doorway into where your heart wants to take you.
Imbue your actions with the meaning you choose, putting your heart into it, and appreciate how you are approaching your challenge from your higher self- in order to bring out the best of you- for the good of all.
What’s your next big challenge?
What meaningful change in you does this challenge represent?
What will you overcome or leave behind in the process of meeting your challenge?
What will you step into?
As always, it’s so helpful to hear the stories of others, so let us know what your’e working with in the comment section so we can share support!
I help people who are stuck in the wrong job find their true purpose and make a life from it, so they can finally enjoy satisfaction and success. I believe every outlier has a purpose, and it's not to fit in- it's to elevate the status quo. I discuss things like: the truth about how change really happens, common traps we create for ourselves (and how to eliminate them), how to own your emotions and leverage them as a leadership tools, and stories of regular people leading from their hearts and experiencing success.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new window. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.