Have you ever done something crazy? Like, crazy hard, crazy unusual, or just plain crazy?
I have. To be honest, my life is full of that kind of thing. And I am about to do a crazy challenge again. More on that later.
How do you tackle something hard that might lead to success or even failure? Moreover, how do you make progress? Here are some ways to persevere.
Strategy One: Reframe the use of the word crazy
Here’s my secret. Crazy is in the eye of the beholder. Specifically, I reframe what most would call crazy. I call it adventure, stepping outside of my comfort zone, or a willingness to face challenges. Consequently, this simple shift helps a lot. Self-talk makes or breaks achievement.
For example, I stepped outside my comfort zone in 2011. I left everything. And I mean everything I knew to live in a third world country for 3.5 years.
Tarantulas, poisonous snakes, and geckos were my companions.
That might have been the wildest thing I did. But guess what? I am here. I lived to tell you about it. Want to know the best part? My life is richer and deeper because I did it.
Strategy Two: List out the benefits of taking on a crazy challenge
During that stint in Central America, I learned to live without AC in a tropical climate. Other skills I developed include living without refrigeration, hot water, and a dryer. More importantly, I developed friendships that completely transformed my life.
As a city girl gone country, I have done all manner of “crazy”. I milked cows as a single mom during the hardest fight of my life. Also, I learned to breed cows. Further, I learned a variety of different skills including butchering, canning, growing my own food, and making soap. I faced many challenges in completing these tasks. But we overcame with creativity.
It was hard being a single mom with a dairy farm. But, the children all pitched in and we did it together. Fifteen years later, my children are now adults. This team work led these young adults to have superior work ethic.
Who knew something so hard could result in anything good? All that to say, listing out the benefits of a past challenge helps give you traction to complete future challenges.
Strategy Three: Surround yourself with supportive people
One day, I showed my husband a small batch of bath bombs I made. I was in survival mode. Not much happened that day, but I at least got a meager batch of bath bombs completed. His response caught me off guard.
“You are an amazing lady.” He responded.
Dumbfounded I asked him to explain because it was a small batch for me. And explain he did.
He motioned to the show room displaying my products pointing out all this:
- bath bombs
- body butter
- body cream
- beard balm
- beard oils
- shave soaps
- lip balms
- perfume oils
- wax melts
- And sugar scrubs
“All of this represents your collective efforts to learn something new. You didn’t just learn from teachers. You researched, used critical analysis to compare and contrast information, and you rose above trial and error to professional soap maker.”
Jon supports my endeavors and encourages me to keep trying when I only see mediocre or poor results. To tackle something new, something big, and something a bit crazy, you need supportive people to cheer you on.
Strategy Four: Change “if only” self-talk to “what if”
Negative results lead to a pity party. It’s a normal reaction. For instance, if only I had not spent our hard earned money on high tunnels to have them destroyed by the wind (three times). Yes, two weeks ago, a freak wind storm blew them into our neighbor’s pasture reducing them to splinters and shredded plastic.
To be honest we all had a pity party. If only we had left that hard earned money in our farm account, we would have a nice buffer. Instead, our profit now lies in a heap littering our yard, a visual reminder of undesirable results.
Success means failures must be embraced. Above all, embracing failure as necessary helps gain traction. In other words, normalize failure. One discipline I use is applying “what if” to my life experiences. Specifically, what if I had never done this?
This time of year, many people watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”. This movie shows a man facing failure only to marinate in self-pity. Self-pity led to depression and finally suicidal ideation. George Bailey then makes a wish.
“I wish I had never been born.”
He gets his wish. His guardian angel then takes him through his social circle to experience life if he had never been born. He gets to see first-hand how his life impacted his loved ones. You do not have to be rich or famous to see your life makes a big difference. You are a part of a bigger picture that makes a real impact.
It’s a wonderful life after all when you count blessings
George Bailey decides despite his failure that his life is worth living. You can do the same with your own experience. A quick stroll down memory lane reminds me the drastic difference embracing challenges made on my life and those around me.
Learning to milk cows, make cheese, and make soap led me to meet countless people both here and abroad (Central America). And I can’t emphasize enough that my first attempts at each of these skills ended in failure. Giving up was a reality.
Had I let self-pity win, I would have not met many people some of whom still play a significant role in my life today.
My own blessings during a crazy challenge
A part of my journey includes experiencing domestic abuse. During the dark night of the soul, I engaged in if only thoughts. If only I had seen the warning signs. If only I had never married. And yes the anguish was so great, I thought like George Bailey. If only I had never been born.
However, as the pain subsided, I saw the gifts I gained from that hardship. There were five precious children given to me in that marriage. Moreover, I learned countless skills of how to persevere in duress.
True, I saw things no woman should ever have to see. However, I also saw God help in ways not many people get to see. I saw the power of His protection over my family. Further, He set this captive free from daily abuse. He placed me in a loving relationship and gave me a safe place to heal and thrive.
Over time pity morphed into praise. And praise led to progress.
My next crazy challenge
As a result, it is from this position of praise that I decided to do something crazy.
I am going to participate in a 5K fundraiser for WINGS Refuge. They assist women and children impacted by domestic abuse. WINGS stands for:
As a survivor of domestic abuse, I affirm this acronym is true! God truly saved me and my children. I can’t help but rejoice. Further, I want to make a difference for others who endured similar hardship.
The race will take place May 27, 2023.
But here’s the crazy part.
- I ran a 5K 24 years ago when my son was 4 months old.
- At 53, I am overweight
- I have been inconsistent in the gym.
Plan of attack or applying the strategies
1. Reframe crazy into barriers to conquer. Firstly, watch as I apply this paradigm shift.
- I completed a 5K in the past. As a result, I have experience.
- Aim to lose weight. This is a variable I have control over.
- Improve consistency at the gym. Again, this is something I can control.
2. The benefits of this crazy challenge are multi-faceted. Secondly, examine this list.
- Supporting a cause that is near and dear to my heart
- Improving emotional and physical fitness
- Celebrating freedom from captivity during daily training sessions
3. Thirdly, enlist the support of my family and friends.
- Ride to the gym with my sons because they are consistent
- Use the Fitbit app and create fitness support groups
- Share progress and frustrations with my support system.
- Encourage others to pray for me and for victims of domestic violence during this training experience.
- Finally, set up milestone celebrations along the way.
4. Fourthly, recount the blessings during sessions. Specifically, look for strengths gained through hardship. This helps with traction.
- Celebrate joy of overcoming our own tragedy during each mile I run. This means with each step I take during training, I will focus on glorifying God and the good that came out of my journey.
- Pray for women and children currently in bondage by domestic violence while I train.
At the end of movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, George runs around shouting for joy in the face of disaster. He also shouts “Merry Christmas” to his enemy with exuberance. Get this. He has no idea that the problem is about to be solved.
In conclusion, the shift from self-pity to praise is that powerful. You don’t have to have a solution to the problem to shift to praise. That is to say, search for the benefits of the hardship and highlight them. Start by asking what am I learning from this experience? Avoid asking why is this happening at all costs? On the other hand, the “why” question leads down a path of unproductive self-pity.
Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone to take on a crazy challenge? What strategies did you use to make progress? I would love to hear from you.