Find ways to challenge yourself

Elise Stahl


In August 2016, I decided to try the Whole30 diet. For 30 days, I ate no gluten, dairy, legumes, sugar or additives.

I had never done something like that and, as wimpy as it sounds to say, it was one of the scariest challenges of my life. But I made myself do it.

Along the way, I talked to many people about my endeavor. As I passed up appetizers and desserts at social events, I inevitably received the question, “Why?”

As I explained, I received a unanimous response from everyone: “Oh. Good for you. I could never do that.”

I hear that line from people all the time. “I could never…” run a 5K, or give something up for a month, or perform in front of an audience, or what have you.

“I could never do that” is a response programmed by fear: the fear of stepping outside your comfort zone. The fear of the unknown. The fear of failure.

The moment you say you could never do something, you cut yourself off from something new. You lose the opportunity to challenge yourself and grow as a person.

I get it: everyone is in pursuit of a life free from pain, awkwardness and failure.

But living in fear of those three things doesn’t make life any happier. They are necessary parts of the human experience. Working to overcome them is the key to a fulfilling and truly happy life.

The only way to conquer them … is to face them.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy. But when you do something that makes you uncomfortable, you remove the fear factor. You take away its power over you. Not only that, but you build confidence that can help you tackle the next challenge that lies ahead.

Because once you’ve done one thing you thought you could never do, why can’t you do another?

So I encourage you: The next time someone mentions something they’re doing that automatically makes you think “I could never do that,” stop. Ask them questions. Think about it.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s a challenge you could take on yourself.

Elise Stahl is always finding new challenges to master. She is learning to embrace the uncomfortable and face her fears with confidence.

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