We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears:
"'This porridge is too hot!' she exclaimed. So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl. 'This porridge is too cold.' she said. So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge. 'Ahhh, this porridge is just right.' she said happily, and she ate it all up."
Other than teaching the lesson that Goldilocks is finicky and able to break and enter without repercussions, this children's tale actually carries a very important message for both children, and adults; being able to recognize your "just right challenge."
The "just right challenge" is a technique that is used in occupational therapy, which represents a level of a task that is challenging, but still doable. A sweet-spot, if you will. However, I have found that the "just right challenge" is a technique that can be generalized to everyday life. If you're a student, your "just right challenge" may be taking a class that might be a lot of work, and may elicit a groan whenever you have to read a chapter from your textbook or put in an extra hour writing a paper, but that you know deep down is adding to your education. In the workplace, a "just right challenge" could be taking on a project that means spending time on work when you're at home, but one that will benefit you in the end.
A "just right challenge" pushes you out of your comfort zone, but not so far that you feel stuck in a riptide of responsibilities, with bleak chances of success. A successful "just right challenge" means growing, and learning something; whether that be about yourself and your capabilities, or your environment.
I constantly have to evaluate whether the challenge at my internship at the Parkinson's Association of Madrid is "just right." For example, on my first day, I showed up expecting to be interviewed. When I arrived, I met my supervisor and went straight into my first day of work instead (which is completely in Spanish). I felt flustered, but instead of throwing in the towel, I just reminded myself that being in that environment, gaining experience, and making my Spanish better were the exact reasons why I chose to intern. I took a deep breath and pushed through my first day.
A "just right challenge" will be hard. It might be a little bit grueling. You might need to splurge on your favorite food afterward to reward yourself for a job well done. But, you have all the capabilities to complete the challenge. If you don't, the challenge is not right! It's too hot, or too cold, like Goldilocks' porridge.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say here is: Strive to be like Goldilocks, just without the whole breaking into someone's house and eating their food and laying in their bed and whatnot. Find the challenge that is just right for you.