You only grow when you challenge yourself according to ideals. Then challenge = growth.

From OptimalScience


Growth, or an increase of virtue, occurs when an individual desires the growth and willingly embraces a challenge. The psychological disposition of embracing a challenge has been described as having intrinsic motivation, as opposed to extrinsic motivation. [1] Intrinsic motivation is conducive to learning, competence, and growth, while extrinsic is not, and actually hinders the process. [2] What does this have to do with challenging oneself according to ideals? When someone approaches a challenge purely with the goal of growing to become their ideal self (in a true and objective sense), they are intrinsically motivated, since they are acting towards a learning goal.


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  • The Psychology of Action: Linking Cognition and Motivation to Behavior by Gollwitzer and Bargh
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  • Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development by Dweck
    • This book discusses...

Intrinsic motivation (or a learning goal)(5) occurs when a person experiences joy and fulfillment in approaching the task or challenge, and their actions have an "internally perceived locus of causality" (2). This means the person has found meaning in the action itself, rather than merely the results. When extrinsically motivated (or having a performance goal)(5), a person acts out of anxiety, due to social, economic, or other pressures. This hinders growth, since challenges are seen as obstacles to desired outcomes, and are then avoided and dreaded. This ultimately leads to frustration and vicious cycles.

In learning to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, a person develops intrinsic motivation to learn from an experience, and growth can occur. They learn to see the process, rather than the outcome, as the reward (2).


Alex Ortiz


  1. Gollwitzer, Peter M., and John A. Bargh, eds. "All Goals Are Not Created Equal." In The Psychology of Action: Linking Cognition and Motivation to Behavior, 7-26 New York: Guilford Press, 1996
  2. Dweck, Carol S. "Achievement Goals: Looking Smart Versus Learning." In Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development. Essays in Social Psychology., Philadelphia, Pa.: Psychology Press, 2000