Setting realistic and inspiring challenges in 2012

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It’s all too easy to let years slip by without anything memorable happening and when you start dating you can feel like nothing exciting or interesting has ever happened in your life. Make 2012 the year when you set yourself some personal challenges so you have plenty to talk to your dates about. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Do something for charity
There are hundreds of different ways that you can get involved in raising money for a charity. Choose a charity that has some personal meaning for you or a cause you particularly want to support. You don’t have to commit loads of time or money to be able to help. You could give as little as an hour helping in a soup kitchen or as much as a regular weekly commitment helping as a volunteer; you could run a marathon or grow a moustache – collecting sponsorship for a one off event is now much easier now that most charities use the online facility JustGiving which keeps track of donations and collects them on your behalf.

Set yourself a physical challenge
We all have something physical we would like to learn whether it’s dancing the tango or learning to skate. No matter what your age or health it is possible to find a physical challenge that is realistic and attainable and it will make you feel great about yourself if you achieve it. Taking a walk every day, learning to juggle or pilates, meditation or kickboxing – whatever it is make sure it is out of your normal comfort zone and requires you to learn to do something new with your body. We all spend so much time in our heads that we can forget that our body needs stimulation too. You can give yourself added motivation by making it a challenge you do for a good cause and in that way you will also have a set target in mind like running a marathon or taking part in a sponsored bike ride.

Stimulate your mind
Do something that requires effort thought and concentration. This could be learning to play chess, reading War and Peace or learning a new language. The brain is a muscle and it will get stronger and more agile the more it is challenged. There are loads of brain training games and activities available on games consoles and smart phones as it is recognised that we need to exercise our mind as much as our body. Mastering a new skill like learning a language, will not only make you feel good about yourself but you will feel the benefit of it in other areas of your life as your thinking becomes quicker and clearer.

Take an emotional risk
Do you know how to ask for what you want? If not maybe your challenge in 2012 could be learning to be more emotionally honest in all your relationships. A lot of the time we do things that we feel we should rather than because we want to. We may be so busy trying to make other people happy that we forget about our own happiness and emotional needs.

Many people find it much easier to be honest about their positive feelings – ‘I love you’; ‘thank you for being there for me’, etc. but much harder to express the more negative feelings like ‘That hurt me’; ‘Please don’t do that’, or ‘I feel jealous when that happens’. People who struggle in this way often swallow down their feelings of hurt and anger and then end up either flying into a rage when it all gets too much or become depressed – the consequence of anger turned inwards. Learning an emotional vocabulary, and being brave enough to express your feelings, is empowering for you as well as inspiring for those around you as, in effect, it gives them permission to be more emotionally honest too.


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