There is a multitude of books, articles, and videos on how to achieve success in virtually any area of your life. Roadmaps, guides, and lists are readily available. Believe me, I’ve read and watched them. One of the most important ingredients I have found to be a prerequisite to any personal growth or success plan is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I can hear the “ugghhhs” now. It’s part of the journey, my friend. So, let’s get into it.
Society of Convenience
We are both fortunate and unfortunate to live in a society with the advantages of extreme comfort. With a few clicks on the phone, we can have virtually anything we desire delivered to our doorstep. We can take the elevator or escalator instead of the stairs. And we can set our thermostats to be the perfect temperature at all times. And we LOVE it!
Because as a society, we value comfort above all else.
While this is a wonderful benefit of being alive during this particular time period, it does not help us to attempt to do things that feel the least bit uncomfortable, scary, or difficult.
As a result of striving for comfort, our cues and signals get mixed up and flabby. Like any muscle, if you don’t use your “uncomfortable” muscles, you lose them.
We misread the cue of being uncomfortable as a “sign” we shouldn’t do it.
If it feels like too much work, we give up, believing those things we are truly meant to have will show up effortlessly.
We mistake being uncomfortable with somehow being a negative feeling and avoid it at all costs.
As humans, we seek homeostasis. And that generally means comfort.
Success Requires Feeling Uncomfortable
We falsely believe great entrepreneurs or those at the top of their fields, were magically lucky. They must have a higher IQ, or some unusual success gene that enables them to succeed.
We believe outstanding athletes were “born that way.”
And those famous influencers? Well, they are just beautiful. If we were that beautiful, we’d be influencers too.
While “success” may be in part attributed to IQ, innate ability, and even physical beauty, it has more to do with hard work, overcoming obstacles, accepting failure as just part of the learning process, and getting very comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Success requires the willingness to push through the fear and do it anyway.
It requires doing the thing that makes you feel inadequate.
If we continue to do the things that make us feel completely secure and adequate, we will never grow outside of who we are today.
Fear isn’t a stopping point, it’s a data point saying “Yeah, you haven’t done this before.” So what. It feels uncomfortable. Why wouldn’t it? You haven’t done it before (or consistently).
When we stop every time something feels uncomfortable, we eliminate our opportunity for growth. Hell, I’d never do any of the following things again, if I hadn’t acquired the skill of being uncomfortable:
- Go on a first date
- Get a new job
- Ask for a promotion
- Skip a meal
- Travel to a new destination
- Write an article
- Make a new friend
These are just a few of the things that are uncomfortable for me. Your list may look much different.
So, how do you get more comfortable with being uncomfortable? I thought you’d never ask.
3 Tips for Getting More Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
- Become conscious of the things that make you uncomfortable and why. Instead of living on autopilot and just avoiding anything that makes you uncomfortable, start paying attention to all the things you avoid each day because they are uncomfortable — the stairs, the thermostat, saying hello to a stranger, shopping in a store you generally never go to, or maybe it’s taking a cold shower.
- Become very clear on your purpose or goal for being uncomfortable. Without a compelling reason, mindset, or goal, you won’t do it. I mean why would you be uncomfortable just for the hell of it?
- Every single day set an intention to do one thing that is uncomfortable for you. This doesn’t have to be some grand, huge thing. It’s in the small things that we grow. For example, I recently added a cold shower to my routine. I started by taking a regular shower and then ended it with just 15 seconds of cold water. I’d increase this time period until I got comfortable with 3 minutes. Once I was comfortable with 3 minutes, this was no longer a task I was uncomfortable with (so I couldn’t use it as my daily uncomfortable task). Some other examples of small changes might be changing your morning routine, changing your route to work, or purposefully meeting someone new. Just make a conscious decision to get outside your comfort zone and do something uncomfortable every single day.
By following these simple tips, you’ll being to get comfortable with that feeling of being uncomfortable. It won’t be scary anymore and you’ll be able to discern it as a common feeling you have every day. You’ll also begin to reinforce the behavior of being uncomfortable because every time you do something that makes you uncomfortable, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to do something bigger. Before you know it you’ll be asking your boss for a raise, traveling across the country, starting that business you’ve been afraid to try, and playing sports instead of watching Netflix!
I’ve always been all about change and keeping myself flexible but I didn’t realize how important this feeling of being uncomfortable was until I quit doing it. Within just a couple of years of “comfort,” I lost my confidence, courage, and ability to grow. So, I started doing things that made me uncomfortable again. Small things at first, like driving in traffic again (sounds weird but it’s really a thing). Finally, I got to the place of working toward a big goal and you can read about that here. Take baby steps consistently and I promise, you’ll see real change.