Life can be hard. Whether we like it or not, life gives us difficulties to overcome (some more than others). Turns out, we need challenges in order to grow. If there’s no challenge, there’s little to no growth. Challenge, mixed with awareness, willingness, and courage translates into Growth.

There are challenges that pick us, and there are challenges we pick. Both are great teachers, but few people have tapped into the depth of possible growth afforded to them through intentionally picking difficulty.


Challenges That Pick You


Here are a few challenges life often gives us, whether we want them or not:

  • Sickness
  • Loss of a job
  • Accidents of all sortsLoss of an important client
  • Death of a loved one
  • Close friends or family dealing with addictions

These challenges, which are largely outside our control, have the ability to tear us down, break us open, and completely change our lives. Few would ever choose to go through such experiences, and yet these are the experiences that crack us open, helping us to see life and work from another perspective.


Adjust Your Perspective To Soar In Your Career


While it’s sometimes hard to see in the moment, the different perspective we take away from these experiences is immensely valuable. That said, is there a way to learn some of life’s lessons on our own terms?

Can we provoke our own increase in awareness, and instigate opportunities for learning and growth, without having to wait for the next shoe to drop? Is it possible to choose some of our own growth-provoking opportunities?

Yes. I want to share the secret power of choice with you, as you continue progressing toward your 2020 goals.


Own Your Growth In Your Career, and Life


Back in January 2019, I was struggling like a car going uphill on its last drop of fuel with life. Nearly every aspect of life was hard. There was just one area I wasn’t struggling… my relationship with the love of my life. I scored big time there!

That said, the struggle was real in nearly every other area… family, friends, career, and community, just to name a few. In many ways, I felt stuck. I was having a hard time getting the lessons life was feeding me. In essence, my powerlessness over the cards that had been dealt was eating me from the inside out, and I needed to try something different. But what?

Walk the Camino in Spain, I thought.



Pick Your Challenge, Walk The Camino In Spain?


“You want to hike five-hundred miles in a foreign country,” my love asked, “when you haven’t walked a mile in the backcountry in your own country?”

Good point, I thought, and then began my investigation of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.

The idea of going backcountry seemed intriguing, but hardly comfortable. I had never strapped forty pounds on my back and hiked a mile, much less multiple miles in one day. I didn’t know how or what to pack, nor did I have the right gear.


Notice As The Obstacles Are Removed, And Go For It!



A friend, hearing I was interested in the challenge of going backcountry, removed all obstacles when he literally handed me every piece of equipment I needed. “Here, borrow this, and check out the Facebook groups to learn more about it,” he said as he put his super lightweight backpack and sleeping hammock in my trunk.

Over the next few months, I spent twenty-one nights backcountry. Five of those nights were solo. Talk about uncomfortable!

Each time I went backcountry, I came across different challenges. In one of my solo trips I broke my water filter, busted up my knee, ran out of phone battery, and ended up having to hitchhike for the first time in my life. Each trip brought different challenges, and yet I kept going back. Why?



Yes, Challenges Can Be Fun


Because as hard as it was, I was having fun! The journey, in every case, was worth the destination.

If you have to experience challenge to grow in life, there is a big value in getting to pick some of those challenges. As it turns out, sitting at home fretting over what has come to pass, and what is yet to come, was exhausting. Such fretting never helps, and yet I was doing it, hoping the difficulty would soon be done.

Being out on the trail was not only fun and rewarding (the views were spectacular and so were the stories I got to hear), it was also filled with challenges, and life lessons.


GET the Lessons From Your Difficulties


If you want to grow, pick a challenge, and throw yourself into it. At least in my case, I got to pick the scenery as I went about learning the lessons I was needing to learn anyway.

Your challenge doesn’t have to be something you’ve always wanted to do, or something that is BIG. It can be something you’re simply curious about… I was (only slightly) curious about backcountry backpacking. Now, I’m even more curious about the Camino. We’ll see what happens this year.

One thing is pretty certain: I’m likely to spend 30 consecutive days on the Appalachian Trail in May. I’ll be doing videos, uploading, and posting from the trail. That’s my plan right now; we’ll see what my higher power has in store. I am open and flexible (necessary components) to what surfaces in the process of planning, and I am putting one foot in front of the other.

How will you challenge yourself in 2020? I look forward to hearing your ideas, stories, and lessons learned.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister has been helping leaders have difficult conversations for more than 15 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Help your team reach its highest potential at