What’s Wrong With Comfort?
Comfort. Who doesn’t love comfort?
At the end of a long day, there is nothing better than getting home and slipping into your comfiest clothes before you enjoy an evening with the family. It’s safe. That’s what we view comfort as. Our safe place.
But, is it?
It might feel like it is, but it’s unsafe. At least, it is if it’s a long-term strategy. Comfort often leaves us bored and discontent. It doesn’t matter what you already know, most people want to know more. We’re all in need of growth. You should want to consistently be smarter and do better. That means stepping outside of your comfort zone.
What is the comfort zone? It’s the area where your behaviors and actions fall into a pattern or routine that reduce risk and minimize stress.
To grow, it requires discomfort. If you stick with the comfort zone, you are letting go of hope. You have no intentions of finding greatness, you’re not interested in uncovering new experiences or surprising yourself with your capabilities. No, you are comfortable.
Comfort will never provide you with greatness, it won’t challenge you to dive into new experiences. If you want to grow as a person, then you have to commit yourself to being uncomfortable. Live in discomfort. It’s momentary, but the benefits aren’t.
You may have heard people responding with “but did you die?” We like to complain about bad experiences. It’s human. We relate the situation to a friend, we share the pain and hurt with them. Then, one wise person will bring you back to reality with “but did you die?” You obviously didn’t because here you are reading this right now.
The point is that being uncomfortable, experiencing discomfort, won’t kill you. Although, at times, it may feel as though it will. Do you know what will kill you?
Comfort. It won’t end your life literally, but it will end any chance of growth you have. You will always be in the same place, puttering along, getting older, but never moving forward.
Growth can start from the point at which your comfort zone ends. Comfort will kill your productivity and negatively influence creativity. Yet, your mind will naturally gravitate towards safety, it loves an easy routine. Your body, too.
Yet, if you want to grow you have to learn to embrace discomfort. Don’t be afraid to explore new ideas, routines, books, disciplines, and paths. Take a different route to work every day. Pick up a book you would never normally read.
Learn about a new subject. Your comfort zone offers mental security, that’s why it’s so easy to steer back into it. If you don’t actively dare yourself to be uncomfortable, you will always slip into your default comfort zone.
When we feel uncertain about the conditions in which we live, our comfort zones start to shrink. So, while some people will choose to stand up and be heard at points like this, many shrink into their comfort zone and hold onto it for dear life.
Both are understandable responses. Of course, the best response is, indeed, to stand up and be counted. We hold onto this idea that whatever it is we want to do; we can always do it later. Then we start to crumble under the pressure of all these expectations we built for ourselves, yet never pursued. Your ideas of growth start to become a burden because you didn’t have the courage to leave your comfort zone. That doesn’t sound so comfortable now, does it?
That’s not to say you can’t retreat to your comfort zone every once in a while, it’s where you can process and relax. The purpose of being uncomfortable is to allow yourself to get better and to grow.
If you don’t go out of your way to explore new things and find new ways to challenge yourself, then you will default to doing what feels good. Unfortunately, what tends to feel good in a particular moment is something like watching television or playing a game.
They have their time and place, but you choose these instead of reading a book, exercising or, doing something more productive with your time. That isn’t leaning into discomfort it’s folding yourself back into your comfort zone.
Understand, you’re up against a fierce opponent. You are biologically wired to seek comfort. We are wired to avoid pain, particularly pain that we deem unnecessary. But, if you want to grow, and you want to improve, then you have to constantly challenge your biological instinct. You have to literally force yourself to grow.
Knowledge is critical. You will have to pursue it constantly to pick up new skills and avoid being left behind. So, you already know what you know… but what more can you learn?
Daring To Be Uncomfortable
Daring to be uncomfortable will take practice. It isn’t easy to stretch your limits. There will be points where you want to give up. Isn’t that true of any growth or improvement, though? If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Don’t just settle for what you have.
Don’t just settle for what you know now. Be a curious person. It’s good to daydream, it’s even better to give your mind a destination while it wanders. You should create a habit out of learning new skills. For example, perhaps every Saturday, you can make a point of trying a new cuisine or watch a movie that you wouldn’t normally select. You can embrace discomfort in every aspect of your life.
Once you do this for a while, you’ll realize that you’re doing bigger things automatically. Like, learning a new skill. Or, taking a new class. You don’t have to head to the community college to do that either.
There are plenty of online options available and there are even free resources that allow you to take real college courses condensed into a 6-12 week course. Okay, you’re not going to earn a degree, but you will get to learn more about a subject.
Growth is about taking action. Daily action. Disciplined action. Measured action. It’s pursuing opportunities that will take you well beyond your comfort zone. It might mean that you have to take one giant leap into the unknown, but you do it anyway.
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
Have you noticed how stiff and tight your muscles become when you don’t get up and about often enough? It happens quicker than you think. Just a few hours sitting in one position and you’re struggling to stand up without clutching at an area of pain. Your mind is the same. If you don’t consciously work on it, then it will stiffen.
You can avoid this by exercising it regularly. How can you exercise your mind? Aside from the obvious learning endeavors, you can embark on, you can get interested. Get interested in places, people, events, things, and ideas. Observe, try, question, learn, imagine yourself as a small child who isn’t afraid to explore.
The good news is you don’t have to throw routine out the window entirely, you can start things off small. You can step outside your comfort zone and grow by gaining confidence in different areas of your life. You can grow in your current endeavor as well, this will help boost your confidence, which will influence other areas of your life. This is why it’s good to grow in more than one area as you attempt to grow and develop as a person.
The comfort zone maintains predictability. You know exactly what will happen at almost every moment of the day because it’s the same thing that happened yesterday and the day before. It’s the fear you have of the unknown that will keep you rooted in your safe space. Yet, everything is a mystery until it happens.
You might expect tomorrow to be the same as today, but absolutely anything could throw a wrench in the works. Your plan is in place, but external circumstances can trip you up. When those circumstances trip you up, you react with stress and frustration. Perhaps it’s time to let go of expectations and take measured risks outside your comfort zone.
For example, when large brands release new products, they don’t do it all at once. Fast-food chains try their new product in a few key locations to determine how well received a product is before they do a nation-wide roll-out.
You don’t risk it all in one roll of the dice. However, when you do take your calculated risks you should only gamble with things you’re willing to lose. You will lose sometimes, but you will learn from your losses and know what to change next time. That’s exactly what a fast-food chain does with a product roll-out.
How safe do you play it? Are you doing the same thing you’ve always done? If so, then you’re going to get the same thing you always have. That’s just how life works.
A risk might seem like a long-shot, but when the chips are down in the final seconds a hail-Mary pass doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Does it? New projects aren’t easy. Changing habits is difficult. Yet, if you don’t do anything at all, how do you expect to achieve what you want?
If you dislike your job, there will be things you can and can’t change. What you can change is yourself. You can improve yourself to a point where you can leave your position.
Or, you can change your attitude to embrace the positives about your role and live with those annoying asides. The point is, stepping outside of your comfort zone, embracing the discomfort can completely transform your outlook.
In order to be comfortable exploring growth, you have to first dare to be uncomfortable. The simple fact of the matter is, you will never know exactly what you are capable of if you don’t push yourself to try. For example, a teenager has dreams of being a writer.
It seems like a far-fetched idea, and as they settle into their first job working at the local supermarket, they realize how comfortable and easy it is. Of course, the work isn’t easy. It’s always challenging when you’re in a position that requires you to manage the expectations of others. The point is, they’re in the position now.
There is a clear path to work one’s way up the ladder to then secure a management position. The pay is fine, it’s enough to live and have a bit of fun.
If they do well and advance even further, they can make a comfortable living. It’s a job, though, not the career path they had imagined for themselves. It starts off just fine. As the years pass, and this teenager becomes an adult and does indeed advance in their career, they grow more jaded. They took the easy option at the time, the comfortable choice. Yet, they still long for that writing dream they always had.
They didn’t even try to become a writer. This person will never know if they could have achieved their dream because they didn’t even try. They chose the comfortable path and will always wonder what could have been. It isn’t too late for them to break out of the retail chains and try their hand at being a writer. It’s never too late to make a change.
Of course, a change of career is a big one. That’s something you might have to work up to. But it’s important that you understand you can. Some people choose to make small changes in their personal life to allow them the time to pursue a new career.
They can still work the job they have to mitigate the financial risk, but they do it. This will all depend on what dreams you hold. Regardless, in any situation, you have to dare to be uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the ways that you can dare to be uncomfortable, from little too large.
Careers & Passions
We already highlighted the career aspect. However, it’s a big enough point to raise here. We used the example of the teenager choosing what they perceived to be the comfortable path. We also touched on there being aspects of your job you can and can’t change.
Not everyone can be ecstatic about their career. That person who chose a career in retail can still pursue writing without throwing their career away. It’s something they can do on their side as a passion project. How is that uncomfortable?
Well, to pursue a passion project you are going to have to sacrifice time you spend elsewhere. Each evening (or morning), you will schedule time to pursue that passion project. That means letting go of extra television time. Or, whatever way you often waste time. The process of settling into a new habit can be an uncomfortable one.
However, isn’t the idea of never knowing what you’re capable of more uncomfortable?
This is a small step outside of your comfort zone, but to be people who don’t typically put themselves out there it can feel like a major step. Challenge yourself to attend the conference or to say yes to coffee. We often limit ourselves in social situations because we just can’t picture ourselves in that position.
It’s nice to have a friend group, but it’s even better to grow it. New people bring new ideas and that can be challenging. There is growth in expanding your social circle and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.
Challenge The Status Quo
We’ve already discussed work a lot, but this one is a little different. You can dare yourself to be uncomfortable by asking for the raise (or promotion) you feel you deserve.
Put together some notes on why you believe you deserve what you’re asking for, be prepared to “argue” your point, and schedule a meeting with your boss. If you don’t ask for it, you will never get it. So, go ask for what’s yours! Even if your boss says no, there’s a good chance you’ll plant a seed in their mind for later.
Go On An Adeventure
Go see a movie by yourself. Book a table for one in a restaurant you have been desperate to try. What type of adventure would you love to do, but you have never done it because no one else will come with you? Just do it! Enjoy the adventure on your own.
Nothing will feel more exhilarating.
What’s stopping you? Discomfort.
It’s time to dare yourself to be uncomfortable. It’s also the perfect opportunity to enjoy bonding time with yourself. You’ll learn a lot about yourself when you do solo activities.
This is similar to the last point, but it’s about furthering your knowledge also. It’s amazing what you can learn when you step outside the comfort zone of your region. Go visit another country, visit a state that’s completely different to yours. Learn about the locals, their industry, their culture, and challenge yourself to try a food you would never normally try.
If you hate seafood, try ceviche in Mexico. Have that crawfish boil in Louisiana. Are you unsure of strange cuts of meat? Have the pork cheeks, try the oxtail, just do it! It might seem like a little thing, but by trying new things you are challenging yourself to learn as a person. You might find out you still don’t like them, “but did you die?”
Be a Host
Do you prefer being a guest to being a host? Push yourself out of your comfort zone by playing the host for an evening. Cook dinner, prepare the entertainment, and invite a handful of people over. You’d surprised at what you learn about yourself when you cast yourself in a different role.
Of course, this can be applied in other areas of your life. What roles do you fill? How can you cast yourself in a different role and challenge yourself to grow as a person? Think about your roles in terms of family, work, and socially.
How can you force yourself outside of your comfort zone? You don’t have to be content with the role in which you were cast just because you’ve grown comfortable in it. You can be whomever you want to be.
Join a Class
Finally, join a class. You can tackle a brand-new subject or learn more about something you’re passionate about. And, at the same time enjoy the social aspect of it. Even if you choose a free online course, other people taking it will engage you in the comments section.
You will have your point of view challenged, your mind expanded, and you will grow as a person. If you do opt for the free online route, you can choose subjects that you know nothing about and perhaps find a new passion. You never know, you might just uncover the passion that changes your life entirely. You’ll never know if you never grow.
We aren’t productive people when we’re too comfortable. Likewise, you won’t be productive if you are too uncomfortable. It’s up to you to find the perfect amount of uncomfortable to drive you forward as a person.
Personal growth is waiting for you to capture it.
Only you can determine how far out of your comfort zone you need to go to be the best version of yourself. Once you have a good idea of how to climb out of your comfort zone, the more you will think about when and how often you can do so.
It will take time, it will require effort, you will need to draw on your determination, but if you plan and strategize, you can do it. Extraordinary things are out in the world waiting for you, you just need to have the courage to step outside the lines and chase it.
Dare to be uncomfortable, you never know just how great it will feel or how far you will go.