On September 8th, 2023 I started an ambitious journey — and it was much harder than I expected it to be.
I found a new location for Affinity.
It seemed like a dream location. It had the perfect foot traffic, the perfect location in view of a congested main road, and we were hopeful for a good interior, too!
Unfortunately, what was left inside wasn’t what I was expecting. The building was completely gutted.
My business partners and I talked it through, and thought the other perks seemed to outweigh the challenge ahead. So we put down the deposit on the property and started getting to work.
I thought I was up for the challenge. Because easy shit isn’t fun, right?
Really, think about it — easy video games are boring. Easy, repetitive tasks are unfulfilling.
Small, simple tattoos no longer interest me, either.
I can’t stay engaged in tasks that are “too easy” for me. It pulls me right out of flow. There has to be a match between skills and challenges to stay in the flow channel. (The Art of Impossible)
This is why I don’t let my son use cheats in video games, or take the easy way out of doing his chores at home. A little bit of difficulty is good for the little man, and it’s good for us grown-ups, too.
Renovating and moving to a new luxury location seemed like a great challenge for us to overcome as a group of artists. And it wasn’t going to be an easy task. That was part of the appeal.
The Power of Challenges
We had to solve dozens of unexpected problems during our renovation of a 2800 square-foot building, from finding contractors to picking the projects that we would have to take on, ourselves.
Cognitive challenges seemed to have a HUGE impact on our creative and problem-solving skills.
It really stretched us to think about what we were capable of and how to solve problems in the most effective and aesthetically pleasing ways possible…without spending much money.
While the challenges of the renovation were overwhelming at times, the pride we all have in this new space is something that has brought us all an immense sense of satisfaction.
To me, this is one of my greatest accomplishments in my career so far. I’m proud to work here and call myself an owner of Affinity Art Co.
More than anything — I feel like we’ve become more resilient.
We had setback after setback during this process. We had emotional ups and downs. We had weeks where we weren’t sure if it would happen, but our family and friends kept pushing us.
My wife, in particular, kept me going some nights when I thought I was running on empty, but I got one more thing done, and that was one step closer to finished.
There were a lot of not-fun times during the renovation, but challenges promote growth, learning, and TEAM development. We’re all much closer as friends and business partners since we finished this journey.
Engage with Difficulty
So…how did I manage to keep pushing through all of this? Here are my three big tips when it comes to taking on huge challenges head-on.
1. Do your best to EMBRACE challenges.
Instead of avoiding challenges, seek them out. Because every challenge is an opportunity. And the best opportunities lie on the other side of challenges.
2. Turn your challenges into a game.
The easiest way I’ve found to seek out challenges is to think about those challenges as a game. Every challenge earns you some XP, you level-up, and eventually you discover a new set of challenges on a different level than the ones you just faced.
3. Pick FUN challenges.
This is probably the most important part. When you can, pick challenges that you find fun as a process, not just chasing a reward at the end.
This lets you stay engaged through the entire challenge. I can’t say that MOST of the last challenge I faced in building Affinity 2.0 was a whole lot of fun, but it was still worth it in the end.
Tattooing and art challenges, on the other hand, are incredibly fun to me and I can stay engaged indefinitely in those tasks.
Picking fun challenges really feeds into the “game” aspect of full engagement.
Worth It in the End
From fatherhood to career changes and building a business — my biggest challenges have all been worth it in the end.
Understanding this is really the key in tackling new and interesting things. Knowing that if it looks hard and I push myself to finish once I’ve started — the rewards outweigh the effort.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve conquered? How did it feel when you crossed the finish line? Who did you have to become to succeed? Was it worth it?