90 Taking on a new challenge Whether you’ve landed a new job, been asked to lead a big project or have set your sights on running a marathon for the first time, saying ‘yes, I can do this’ is a huge adrenaline-filled positivity peak. But, sometimes that’s followed by that nasty little voice in the back of your head. You know, the one that says ‘what if’. What if I fail? What if I fall flat on my face? Taking on a new challenge opens up the possibility of failure. It can turn what was once an exciting opportunity into something frightening and lead you straight back into your comfort zone. Finding a way to turn off that negative voice so that you can rise to the challenge is so important. By pushing yourself beyond your limits and taking on new and sometimes daunting opportunities, you’ll discover you’re capable of so much more than you imagined. Easier said than done, I know! Here are some thought processes and tactics that I’ve found helpful, when dealing with the highs and lows of a new challenge. Accentuate the positives According to psychologists, we’re all conditioned with something called the ‘The Negativity Bias’. This is our brain’s natural tendency to focus on threats and dangers. To get past it, try to focus on the positive moments in every day, whether they’re big achievements or little wins. Taking time to appreciate something that made you smile will help to switch your focus away from the negative and onto the positive. Find your team Don’t try to do everything alone, no-one is expecting you to be a one-person powerhouse all the time. Whether it’s a colleague you can bounce ideas or problems around with, a straight-talking friend who can set you back on course or a family member to offer support and comfort, surround yourself with the people you need to succeed. Learn to take criticism This is a biggie! No-one is perfect, there are always ways to improve, develop and move towards your goals. But at the same time, learning to take criticism positively, without taking it personally can be really tricky. Having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset is a great way to take on criticism and feedback. A fixed mindset is thinking that if you don’t do well at something the first time, it means you’re bad at it and that’s that. In contrast, a growth mindset is the belief that you’re always moving and growing, learning new things and developing new skills. Nothing is out of your grasp if you take on new information and ways to grow. So, with a growth mindset, receiving criticism can be a positive thing, a way to find out how you can improve and move forward. Also, often the person giving feedback wants you to do well. They’re on your side and are looking at ways you can improve so you can succeed. Celebrate your successes It’s easy to focus on the negatives and ignore all the things you’ve done well. Look back at how far you’ve come, the challenges you’ve already faced and give yourself a pat on the back. List your achievements, writing things down in black and white is a good way to remind yourself of your own abilities. Finally, be kind to yourself! It’s easy to talk yourself down and be too self-critical if things aren’t moving in the way you’d hoped. Take a moment, reflect on the journey so far and keep going - you’ve got this! When you’re presented with a new opportunity or challenge, it can be so exciting. Sara Davies discusses the positives of starting new journeys and trying something new! Sara Davies MBE is founder of Crafter’s Companion.