You’ve heard or read how “comfort kills”, and why we need to “break out” of our comfort zones, right? On a scale from 0 to 5, zero being not at all, how comfortable are you / have you been the past month? I don’t just mean physically as in, staying cool in the summer heat, or even getting a good night’s rest. No, I mean, have you been so comfortable lately that you’ve really not made much if any progress toward achieving your goals and dreams?
Comfort or Progress
While it’s not an absolute, it is a good general rule that if you are too comfortable in too many areas of your life, you’re probably not making progress in any area of your life. Let’s face it, we all love being all cozy and comfortable. There’s nothing like a nice nap on a quiet afternoon. It’s good for you and it just feels so freakin’ great!
If it’s good for us, what’s the problem with comfort, then? When the desire to remain in that comfortable place / space overrides the need or desire to push to a better place and space, then comfort is a problem.
You’ve heard the story of the old hound dog, yes? Every night, Ole Blu would sit on the porch with his master, and howl in pain the whole time. When the neighbor finally asked the Ole Blu’s owner about the dog’s constant, low, grumbling howl, the owner replied, “Oh, he’s okay. He’s just sittin’ on a nail and he’s too comfortable and too lazy to move anywhere else…”
For a more interactive example, imagine a frosty, dark, winter’s morning. You’re just waking up from an ideal night of sleep; you’ve had the best, most realistic dreams, ever, and every one hour of sleep felt like three. You smile and snuggle deeper into your toasty bed, but then you realize it’s time to get up and get the day started. Do you:
- lay there as long as you can, staring at the clock, contemplating a move to an ever-warm climate?
- imagine that the world has frozen over so you might as well stay in bed?
- eventually forsake the warm, comfortable bed, get up, ignore the chilly discomfort, get out, and make progress on the day’s tasks?
If you chose the comfortable route, you’ll stay warm and stay in bed. Who wouldn’t? But if you like to eat, like most of us, then you probably choose the latter option. You bite the bullet and go against the frigid morning and do what you have to do, despite how uncomfortable it may be.
Comfort and Progress
Even though I’ve been espousing comfort or progress, you can actually have both; you just need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There can be a certain fear factor involved in doing what’s uncomfortable but once you switch your mindset, discomfort just might become your primary indicator that you’re on the right track.
Becoming friends with discomfort starts by doing one uncomfortable thing each week (or every day) in the areas of your physical, mental, and emotional being. Of course I’m not talking about doing dangerous or stupid stuff; kicking your boss in the knee because you always want to, playing in traffic during rush hour, or jumping in with the lions at the zoo are just a few examples of what not to do.
No, I mean you should try doing things like, taking your workouts to the next level, challenging your subconscious beliefs about yourself, and doing something that scares you just a little (but that probably won’t kill you).
If that method doesn’t resonate, try the following instead.
- Write down your life goals and dreams, or areas of your life in which you’d like to make progress
- Examine what inner leash is holding you back and keeping you from achieving your goals. That leash, your inner fears, is the chain that keeps you inside your comfort zone
- Get uncomfortable by doing what you’re afraid to do. Go after it and feel what you feel: discomfort, uneasiness, doubt, sick to your stomach, etc
- Notice the progress. It might be a small step at first, or it could be a quantum leap; either way, you’re on your way
Since taking my leap of faith in early 2017, I’ve been squeezed and twisted, pushed and pulled, and through it all, I have come to understand on a deep personal level the truth of the “comfort or progress” mantra. More than ever before, I know that to get to where I want to be, I have to change, evolve, constantly. Discomfort leads to change, and change leads to progress. Most recently, I’ve been challenged to change aspects of each of the big three, and uh, its not been easy, or comfortable…
Physical: I’m training harder and smarter, and watching what I and when I eat. I’m also challenging myself to get more sleep and take better care of myself in general.
Mental: Because it would be easy to stay as I am, I’m challenging the limits of what I have believed is possible for me.
Emotional: I’ve been closely examining the auto-triggers and the related fears that frequently throw me off for one reason or another. Just thinking about looking deeper can be, and is, disconcerting, but it is necessary.
None of this is easy, at all. In fact, I sometimes question God and my path because it would be way easier to just give up and go back, or do something else. Then again, the challenges and the discomfort are near-constant confirmation that I am on the right path.
I’ve collected a few thoughts from others on the subject of comfort zone in hopes that they might spark your heart and soul and imagination.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” -Roy T. Bennett
“Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end…because in the end, it shows you a whole new world!!
Make an attempt…” -Manoj Arora,
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” -Brian Tracy
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“Most everything that you want is just outside your comfort zone.” -Jack Canfield
Are you ready to make greater progress by making discomfort your beautiful friend and constant companion? If so, comment below and share your plan or where you most need to get uncomfortable. Be sure to come back later and share your progress as well.
I wish you all the discomfort you need!