How to Stay Engaged When You Thrive on the Challenge

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Your work style and preferences have a huge impact on the work you take on and how you accomplish it. Some of us are laid-back and easily go with the flow. Some of us work best when we’re slightly over-scheduled and pushed to our limits on a daily basis. I fall into the second category and can certainly be considered someone who thrives on a challenge.

While this working preference doesn’t mean that I don’t also enjoy occasional slow days and a lighter schedule, it does mean that I typically tend to have a very structured schedule with a lot to get done and specific/measurable results. It can be difficult for people like me to stay engaged and excited by our work unless we can maintain this type of atmosphere on a regular basis.

I’ve found that there are some actions I can take in running my business that lead me to the type of challenges I need to feel engaged. Here are some of the things I do.

I’m picky.

A large part of the daily challenge comes from taking on the right kind of work. Sure, some of the work I do may not be considered thrilling, but I try to balance this type of client work with projects that are more demanding and stimulating. This kind of variety helps to prevent boredom and monotony.

I set short-term goals.

I tend to revise my goals monthly, and sometimes weekly. I do have longer term and broader goals for my business and personal life, but it’s the short-term or mini-goals that keep me moving. It helps to set a few realistic goals that you can work toward and accomplish more quickly to speed up the normal goal-setting process and amp up your sense of challenge.

I am always learning.

Continuous learning and skill advancement are also ways I generate more of a challenge in my life. Not only is it exciting to learn new things, but it also presents the opportunity to discover new passions and expand service offerings to reflect these passions, essentially attracting more challenging (and satisfying) work.

I develop my own challenges.

Instead of relying on incoming work to provide the challenge, I create my own opportunities to push myself. Whether by writing a book, mentoring, launching new products or developing collaborative web sites, I am constantly on the lookout for new ventures and opportunities to keep me engaged.

I get out of my comfort zone.

It’s easy to do what you’re comfortable doing every day. The challenge comes from knowing your comfort zone and stretching yourself beyond that. When I encounter a situation that has me slightly nervous and anxious, I know right away that it is the perfect opportunity to push myself into a new and valuable experience.

Are you also challenge-driven? What do you do to stay engaged in your work?

Image credit: Christophe Libert

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  • Ryan Kinal

    I am definitely a challenge driven developer, though in a more laid-back way than you are. I don’t like having too many things on my plate. Instead, I like working with new, or close to new, technology, and taking on interesting problems. Part of keeping myself motivated is making problems interesting. For instance, designing and building a small corporate website may be fairly mundane, but making sure that you get paid for it can be the challenge.

    The challenge that I’m always striving to beat is, of course, making somebody say “Wow!” upon seeing my work.