As small business owners and entrepreneurs it often feels like one thing after another is a challenge, especially when you’re starting out.¬† Should you be challenging yourself?¬† OF COURSE!
The better question is: WHEN should you challenge yourself and how do you know WHICH areas you should challenge yourself in?
I’ve participated in quite a few challenges recently – the #blog30 and #blogboost challenges, the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge, Ezine Articles Hundred Articles in a Hundred Days challenge… and I’ve gotten so much out of them. But I know going into most of them exactly why I was participating.¬† In case of the posting challenges I wanted to force myself to create a more consistent blogging habit, connect with other bloggers, build more links to my website, increase comments/interaction, and get my blog noticed by a wider audience.¬† With the EzineArticles challenge I wanted to create content on several specific topics that I could repurpose as well as help to build expert status around the things I’m very good with.
I don’t do blog challenges just so I can blog 31 times in a row or complete any challenge just to say, “I did it and that’s it.”¬† Knowing what my motivation is to participate and keeping that in mind is what makes them work for me.¬† It also enables me to feel successful in these challenges even when I don’t complete one (is that okay to admit, too?).¬† If I jump into a blog challenge and only post 15 times instead of 30, but during those 15 posts I got comments and interaction on my blog, and I also went out and left comments on other blogs and connected with awesome people, then that’s a success!¬† I’ll try again for bigger success and to complete the challenge next time.¬† But remember that success doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” measurement – allow yourself to celebrate the LITTLE successes, too!
So, all my wandering thoughts here were inspired when I read a great post the other day.¬† If you’ve wondered if blog challenges or other writing challenges are a good idea for you?¬† Martha wrote a great post on the subject: http://marthagiffen.com/blog-challenges-work/
Blog challenges aren’t for everyone, and even when they are great for you, the timing isn’t always great.¬† That’s okay.¬† It’s smart to skip a challenge if you know the timing is bad.¬† There are times that we’ve got to be more focused on producing products, coaching clients, or delivering whatever product/service our business provides.
Which leads me to another warning sign for challenges… don’t use them to “hide out” from the more important business activities!¬† For those of us who love writing, it’s easy to focus on the writing challenges instead of creating a new product or program that might just be a better decision… just something to be aware of.¬† Check in with yourself, step back and evaluate each decision and each challenge you tackle.
That said, I’m a big believer in the power of these group challenges to push us to bigger things and greater heights in our businesses if we’re doing them at the right time and for the right reasons.¬† I know the results I’ve seen in my business.
And don’t limit yourself to a blog or article writing challenge!!¬† You can create a challenge with your own group for any area that you know you need accountability and support!¬† Do a product creation challenge (everyone in the group creates a new ebook or report within 30 days) or a marketing challenge (set goals for how many marketing actions you’ll take a day or how much time you’ll spend marketing) or a time management challenge or whatever area you choose.
We all need a good swift kick in the pants challenge once in a while — so YES, you should challenge yourself!¬† Just pick your battles and go after the smart challenges that will support where you’re at and what your goals are.