The Major Waves In Your Life
It’s not exactly the stuff of dreams, is it?
Yet, believe it or not, these are the things that can make major waves in your life.
Comfort is familiar, it feels safe. It’s like pulling on your favorite pair of jeans. It sounds good, but there’s something else that comfort can be – deadening. It blunts your ambition and stifles your creativity.
Perhaps most importantly, it stalls your personal momentum. Conversely, discomfort can do the opposite for you.
You might make more mistakes than you do successes, but as you embark on such a journey you will notice small changes about yourself. First of all, embracing discomfort forces you to think differently. You act with courage. You were convinced that constraint would hold you back and limit you, yet it freed you from your paralysis and allowed you to embrace creativity.
Likewise, failure seems like it’s something that will crush your self-esteem. That could be true if you allow it to. However, failure will also provide you with valuable insights, into both the situation you are in and into yourself as well. When you force yourself through periods of discomfort you will unlock your true potential.
Humans Actually Thrive On Difficulty
This may surprise you, but your body isn’t just built to cope with difficulty. It thrives on it. With that in mind, here are a few ways to create brief discomfort to leverage to your benefit.
Seek Failure Out
Failure anxiety is real and it’s something that influences many of us. It’s the type of anxiety that stops us in its tracks and holds us back from chasing our passion and purpose. We would rather not try something because if we don’t try it, then we can’t fail. You can’t succeed either. There is discomfort in failure and when you possess this fear you are going to miss out on major opportunities.
Look, when you go bold or try something risky or radical, there’s very little information. You have to dive in headfirst and with that, you accept that there’s a high risk of failure. When you experience failure, you just have to ask yourself why until you know exactly where it went wrong. Use that to propel yourself forward.
Your palms are sweaty. Your heart is beating rapidly. Your stomach is flip-flopping like a fish out of water. All of these are by-products of fear. You experience those same things when you’re excited!
Yet, the moment you recognize it as fear you run the risk of being frozen in place. If you tell yourself that you’re excited instead, then you will feel challenged by the situation. Those same physical reactions can spur you on or they can paralyze you. Rewire fear.
Do you have a personal project? A creative one? It could be something you thought of 10 years ago but haven’t gotten around to yet. Perhaps it’s a book you started writing, you finished 75% of it, but you can’t bring yourself to write the rest. It’s time to slap a constraint on it.
Yes, you are going to use the discomfort of constraint to propel yourself forward. You now have just two weeks to finish that book. Or, one week to paint your next watercolor. Put yourself under some pressure to perform and watch yourself flourish.
It isn’t easy to swallow some truths. We spend our entire life building an idea of who we are or who we think we are. When you seek feedback, what you are seeking is the truth. It isn’t easy to hear. However, it’s the only way to accelerate growth. So, set yourself a specific time each month to gain feedback from the people closest to you. You should have a clear idea of what you’d like to know.
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to share their truth with you. So, asking them what you’re like when you’re stressed out is far too vague. Change the phrasing! I’m concerned that I may snap at people when I’m under stress, what do you think?
Actively listen when others are offering you feedback. It will be uncomfortable, but don’t let that put you off. Setting yourself up for discomfort once a month is the least you can do for yourself.
It sounds too much, but there isn’t a single experience in life that is just discomfort. As with everything in life, there’s nuance. So, asking for feedback is uncomfortable. It’s not nice to sit and listen to someone criticize you, even if you asked for it. The discomfort isn’t the only aspect of it. From your discomfort comes an opportunity for growth, and the insights from this feedback can propel you forward.
A New Way To Think About Discomfort
Think of discomfort as short and sharp shocks, but with massive gains.
It isn’t easy to do, but our primary mode of growth is to embrace the discomfort zone. The problem is the first step is the most difficult one. We already discussed ways you can promote discomfort in positive ways. Let’s now address ways you can actively seek success by stepping outside of your comfort zone.
What do you want to do, believe is worth it, but you have been too afraid of doing? Draw a circle on a pad of paper and write those things outside of it. This is about identifying comforts versus discomforts. Within the circle, you can write your comforts. It’s easier to overcome discomfort when you are aware of it.
Don’t just stop with writing a list of your discomforts, take it deeper. You want to overcome fear, so address each discomfort from that standpoint and be specific. Are you afraid of social situations? Why? Is it because you can’t work up the courage to approach people? Or, is it because you worry they don’t care about what you have to say? Are you worried you’ll be ignored? Are you self-conscious about your clothes or insecure about your looks? Take a deep dive into each of your discomforts until you find clarity.
Your new goal is to get acquainted with discomfort. In fact, it’s to get comfortable with it. Don’t run away from discomfort. For example, you’ve pushed yourself into attending a networking event. You feel the slight sense of panic creeping in as you start a conversation with someone new. Stick with it. Give it another 30 seconds before you abandon ship. You’ll soon realize after the time is up that it doesn’t feel so bad.
Would you rather do nothing than shoot your shot and fail? You need a mentor. Not just any mentor – failure should serve as your mentor. With every failure, there is a lesson to learn. With every failure, there’s adventure around the corner. Failure can serve as your roadmap to success, you just have to learn how to read and follow.
Don’t dive out of your comfort zone straight out. Start with little steps. You’re more likely to succeed if you don’t overwhelm yourself with change. So, if your ultimate goal is to be a public speaker, you can take small steps in that direction. You can start by speaking with smaller groups of people. Try it with your friends and family.
Spend time with the people who will push you out of your comfort zone. Do you know risk-takers? Hang with them and emulate their behavior. Slowly, but surely, it will influence your behavior and lead you to take more calculated risks.
Are you prone to making excuses? It’s time to cut the crap and be honest with yourself. When you say you don’t have time to do something, what’s the truth? Is it that you’re too afraid to do it? Forget making excuses, embrace discomfort and start being honest with yourself.
You want to step outside of your comfort zone. If you do so, what is the benefit to you personally? Going back to the dream of being a public speaker – as you pursue your passion, you will grow both professionally and personally. Those are benefits. Identify the benefits and use them as motivation.
Laugh a Little
If you make a mistake, just laugh it off. Inevitably, the process of taking risks is going to involve obstacles and failure. You might initially worry about it making you look foolish – but, who cares? Just roll with the punches and laugh a little.
Focus on Fun
There is fun to be had in embracing discomfort. When you push yourself outside of your comfort zone it’s an opportunity to learn new things about yourself.
As far as long-term strategies go, you might think comfort is the safest. Yet, it leads to discontentment, it aids boredom and fuels self-absorption. It doesn’t matter what lies you tell yourself, there isn’t a person on this planet who isn’t interested in personal growth. You want to be smarter than you are now. You want to do better than you do now.
You want consistent improvement. Your comfort zone is a self-construct, you have created this zone as a safe space. It’s where your behaviors, actions, and activities fall into a pattern that was designed to minimize both risk and stress. The reality of the matter is that comfort won’t provide you with that. Not really.
Discomfort Won’t Kill You
What can kill opportunity, action, and ideas, though, is your comfort zone. If you make sticking to the comfort zone a habit all you’ll get is what you’ve always had. You’ll be in the same place as you always were, but just a little bit older. There can be no personal growth within the comfort zone, it begins when your comfort zone ends.
While your mind/body crave the ease of routines and we naturally feel the pull of safety, your growth is dependent on your ability to withstand discomfort. Explore new ideas, try new disciplines, walk down a different path, don’t settle into a single routine. There are always new ways to do and be better at what you do.
When you leave yourself unchecked, you are going to default to the comfort zone. It just is what it is. It offers you mental security. Don’t get me wrong – that is valuable. There is value in retreating to your comfort zone to hit the reset button. However, it should be a vacation spot, not a long-term living situation.
There are all different world conditions that squeeze our comfort zones into smaller spaces. The economy, the political landscape, and our social situations all influence your comfort zone. The more scared you are the smaller your comfort zone will be. You may think this sounds like a positive, but it’s actually more difficult to break out of your comfort zone in these cases. We prefer to live in an illusion.
Failure to explore new ideas and challenge yourself leaves you doing what feels great in each moment. That might sound great, but we often do this as a way to stay comfortable and avoid the discomfort of stretching ourselves.
Knowledge is what will keep you from being left behind. Constantly improving yourself and acquiring new skills will push you forward and exercise your mind. Finding comfort in discomfort is not easy. It requires practice. It isn’t easy to stretch yourself to the limits. You will reach a point where giving up seems like the best option. However, the only way to make a better life for yourself, to be a smarter, better person is to embrace discomfort.
Don’t just settle for the information in front of you. Be curious. When your mind starts to wander, offer it a destination. Build habits that force you into trying new things. Perhaps every Friday night could be your day to pick up an album or book that you normally wouldn’t engage with.
Maybe you’re going to drive a different way to and from work or order something different from the menu. When you do this consistently, you can move on to bigger things. Like, choose a new course every few months.
True growth is about action – daily, disciplined, and measured action. It’s pursuing opportunities and stretching yourself far beyond your comfort zone. It might take you into the unknown, but why is discomfort so terrifying to us? Your brain is a muscle and it’s up to you to exercise it.
Show interest in others, strike up a conversation with new people, engage with new places, things, ideas, and events. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, observe the world around you, try it, and learn. Think about how children operate in the world. At some point, we lose that wide-eyed gaze. By embracing that you will grow outside of your comfort zone. This means you can grow in confidence in every area of your life.
We tend to know exactly what’s going on in our comfort zone. That’s why it’s so comfortable – the predictability of everything makes us feel safe. However, allowing fear of the unknown to keep you where you are will stifle every part of you. Outside of your comfort zone, pretty much everything is unknown. In all honesty, though, pretty much everything is unknown inside of your comfort zone, too. You know what you have planned for work tomorrow, but you don’t know what life is going to throw at you to disrupt your day. All you know is what you’ve planned.
Let go of expectations and accept the results your actions produce. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks and embrace discomfort.
When you think about taking risks and you consider change, think about this Tony Robbins quote – “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. Is discomfort that much of a risk? It kind of seems as though the bigger risk is doing nothing and sitting still in your comfort zone.
Nobody said it was easy, you can guarantee that it’ll be harder than you anticipated. That’s okay. Keep pushing. The truth is if you don’t do something, then you’ll change nothing.
If you become too comfortable you won’t be productive. Likewise, if you push yourself to be too uncomfortable, then you won’t be productive. It’s finding the sweet spot of productive discomfort. Push free from your comfort zone because your success depends on it. As you learn to perform outside of your comfort zone you will get better at it. More importantly, you will be willing to venture out more often.
Getting used to discomfort takes time, but if you have a solid plan and the courage required to move forward, then who knows what you’ll achieve.
It might seem scary at first, but there are benefits to be had by embracing the discomfort zone. Push yourself slowly from your comfort zone and as you do you will start to feel more at ease with discomfort and change. What once felt dangerous no longer will.
By taking responsibility for yourself and your life, you are opening the door to opportunities. More importantly, you’re awakening wisdom within yourself. At every level and stage of life, we must become comfortable with discomfort.
As nice as the comfort zone feels, it’s a false dichotomy. It is comfortable, but it’s slowly drowning you.
The problem is that we often don’t recognize the danger we are in until it’s too late to do anything about it. Right now, it’s not too late. You have the power to turn it around. You have plenty of time to step outside of the comfort zone to embrace discomfort. This is in your wheelhouse.
When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade – open a lemonade stand. You may feel as though you’re stuck in a rut, you may feel uninspired, but sometimes we need that internal shift to spur us onto something new.
Your response to life is what will dictate how you grow and thrive. Do you need ideal conditions in order to thrive? Or, are you capable of thriving even when embracing discomfort? How we respond to the uncertainties of life will influence how we grow internally.
Resting on your laurels is the easy choice. Success doesn’t come easy. Success requires risk, big thinking, and dreams. It requires action. What once was terrifying and unknown becomes your comfort zone. Which means you can begin the cycle of stepping out of your comfort zone again. That’s the beauty of life, we constantly evolve as humans.
We all live and learn. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to sit in your comfort zone and watch life pass you by. Or, if you’re going to push yourself harder and embrace the discomfort zone.
If you want belief powerful enough to move mountains, then what are you doing to gain that level of belief? While familiarity will keep you feeling safe, it will keep you stagnant. If you want to walk through life completely unaware of your potential, then don’t take risks. If you want to build self-belief, achieve your dreams, and do great things in life, then you’re going to have to take risks. Comfort zone dwellers are too afraid to put themselves out there and take risks, even calculated ones. It’s difficult to find success without taking risks, though. A bit like trying to make an omelette without cracking an egg.
The biggest risk you can take right now is to get up out of your seat, find something that makes you feel discomfort, and do it! Go ask for a raise. Ask your crush out. Sign up for a language class. Go skydiving. Whatever it is, find a way to push yourself out of your comfort zone, grow as a human, and embrace the discomfort zone.