Each day is a great opportunity to try something new and push yourself into areas that test your capabilities as well as widen your horizons. If you fancy taking on something extra special, check out these 10 challenging yet rewarding things to do in order to get the most out of your year.

1. Run a marathon

Many people regularly put running a marathon in their list of things to do before they die, so why not make this the year that you actually do it? Completing a marathon is a great personal achievement that requires months of dedication to training, and the exhilaration you’ll feel when crossing the line will certainly be something special. If you’re already a marathon runner, then why not consider taking on some of the more extreme running events such as the Great Wall Marathon in China, the Antarctica Marathon, or even the Marathon des Sables run in the Sahara Desert?  

2. Take on a charity challenge

While a marathon may be a step (or 26.2 miles - or 42.195km!) too far for some people, there are many other charity challenges you could take on.

There are plenty of charities out there who provide opportunities to go and do activities such as trekking, mountaineering, cycling and whitewater rafting in some exotic destinations. All that the charities ask in return is that you raise at least the minimum specified sum of money. It’s a real win-win exchange: you will get the trip of a lifetime while your selected charity will receive much-needed funds.  

3. Exercise your brain

If you don’t feel like taking up a difficult physical challenge, then why not exercise your mind instead by doing something mentally challenging? You could do something such as learn to speak a new language or learn to play a musical instrument. You might also have been looking toward career advancement or a career change but not have had the necessary skills to achieve it, so why not plan to acquire these skills? Challenging your mind is important, as it will keep your mental faculties ticking over and expand your horizons.  

4. Surprise yourself

There are plenty of things out there that you see people doing and then say to yourself, ‘I could never do that’. But is there really a reason why you can’t do them, or are you just afraid of doing something new? The prospect of taking on some extreme activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding or diving with sharks might scare the living daylights out of you, but there’s no reason to think you won’t be just as capable of taking them on as other people. If you achieve something that you previously thought you couldn’t do, then the thrill of that moment will likely stay with you for a lifetime!  

5. Volunteer yourself

You could give a little of your time to help on a volunteer project – however much or little time you have at your disposal. It could involve dedicating a small amount of time to just helping with a local project on a regular basis, or alternatively it could involve taking on the huge commitment of helping out a project overseas, perhaps over a lengthy period of time. While you may think there’s very little impact you can make, giving up just a bit of your spare time to help other people will make a huge difference – not only to the people themselves but also to your own sense of worth.   Volunteering is just one of the many ideas in our 25 tips to change your life  feature.

6. Get a new job/seek promotion

If you feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job with very little prospect of progressing, then it could well be time to make a move. Feeling like you are in a job where you are not valued can be a really demotivating and stressful situation, so make it your challenge to do something about it! Start looking for new employment or look within your current employment situation for opportunities to advance yourself there. Since the majority of your day is spent in work, it should be high on your list of priorities to make your working life satisfying. Check out these ways to boost your happiness at work .

7. Overcome a fear

We all have fears of some description. For example, you could have something as big as a fear of flying , which may prevent you from traveling abroad, or you could have a fear of spiders, which may just prevent you from taking a bath! Whatever your fear is, it’s possible to overcome it. We’re not suggesting that you just face them head-on and go and leap on a plane without any help whatsoever – but there are ways to tackle your particular problem. Some form of counselling or even hypnosis could be a method of overcoming your personal obstacle.  

8. Climb a famous peak

You don’t have to be an intrepid explorer to tackle some of the high peaks out there. Instead, set your sights according to your own ability. This could mean deciding to climb the highest peak in your own country, or alternatively venturing further afield to take on some of the world-famous peaks in areas such as the Himalayas , Andes, Alps or the Atlas Mountains. You don’t even have to reach the summit on these climbs if you don’t want to, as some expeditions take you to lower-lying base camps. In this way you can still get a real flavour of a climbing expedition without having to put in all the effort and expense that is usually required to reach the top of the peak.  

9. Join a sports club

You’re never too old to try a new sport or pick up one that you left behind years ago.

Unless injury is preventing you from having a go, there are not too many other valid excuses for not joining up!  Sports clubs are not all focused solely on competition – so if you just fancy giving something a try for fun as well as getting into the social side of the sport, then make that your goal. Even if you’re not that ‘sporty’, it’s likely there will be a sport out there that is suited to your ability and aptitude.    

10. Get others up for a challenge

If you’ve set yourself some personal challenges, then why not spread that message and let that enthusiasm rub off on others? Whatever your goals, it will be great if you can encourage other people to set their own. It may be that they can join you on some of the challenges that you have set yourself and this way you can act as a source of encouragement to one another. If people see you setting yourself lots of goals, then that may prompt them to follow suit. So, make it your personal challenge to get others to set their own challenges!