Difference Between Challenge and Problem

Key Difference – Challenge vs Problem


In day today life we often encounter challenges and problems on our way to success. These can often hinder our progress and make it difficult for us to achieve our goals. Most people consider challenges and problems to be synonymous as both create a barrier for the individual. This, however, is a misconception. A challenge is vastly different from a problem. It can even be stated that our outlook plays a decisive role in identifying something as a challenge or problem. Some barrier that one person conceives as a challenge can be conceived as a problem by another. This is why we can say that our outlook plays a key role in comprehending whether it is a challenge or a problem. They key difference between a challenge and a problem is that while a challenge is a demanding task that an individual wishes to overcome, a problem is something difficult to deal with or understand that hinders the progress of the individual.

What is a Challenge?

As mentioned above, a challenge can be defined as a demanding task or situation. In order to overcome a challenging situation, the individual needs to put a lot of effort. Although this can be very tiring, at the end the individual feels a sense of accomplishment as he was able to overcome the difficulties. For an example, imagine a student who has to complete his internship and also support his family. This is a challenge for the student because he not only has to work as an intern, but he has to provide for the family while completing his studies. But with a positive attitude he can interpret this as a challenge and work towards success.

The term challenge is also used as an invitation to take part in a contest or to prove something. In the past, such challenged were quite common. For example, a man can challenge another over a dispute or to prove his worth.

Difference Between Challenge and Problem

What is a Problem?

A problem is something difficult to deal with or understand. We all face problems in various situations. It can be at home, at our work place, or even on our way home. A problem can be viewed as something that stands in our way that hinders the achievement of a particular goal. Hence, most people approach problems with a negative attitude. When people face problems personal or otherwise they often affect their thoughts and behavior. This is why we find such people under a lot of stress.

Here is an example of a problem. In order to achieve a particular target, a team requires ten members. The team leader notices that only six members have turned up for work. This can be interpreted as a problem because it stands in the way of achieving a given target. But the same situation can be viewed as a challenge as well, where the leader would ask the team members to put extra effort in achieving the target without being disheartened by the lack of team members. This is why attitude plays a decisive role in interpreting a situation as a challenge or a problem.

Key Difference - Challenge vs Problem

What is the difference between Challenge and Problem?

Definitions of Challenge and Problem:

Challenge: A challenge is a demanding task or situation.

Problem: A problem is something difficult to deal with or understand.

Characteristics of Challenge and Problem:


Challenge: People approach a challenge with a positive outlook of overcoming it.

Problem: Most people view a problem with a negative outlook.


Challenge: A challenge is often very demanding.

Problem: A problem may appear as a great barrier, but it usually has a solution.


Image Courtesy:

1. Sami Kontio Challenge pylon race round 2 D-EZOZ 06 By MKFI (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Question Mark (black on white) By Neutrality (Created by Neutrality.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons