Yes, the comfort zone.
As humans, this is a place we love. We look for, strive for and have created products and even entire industries to help find and maintain high levels of comfort (hello Lazy-Boy!). You’ll find this desire for the comfort zone in all areas of life – physically, mentally, emotionally and more; face it, we are hard wired to seek comfort.
Given that, you might be surprised by the title of this piece. (Could I really want you to get uncomfortable?)
Why would any self-respecting personal and professional development author write something that seems so counter to what we all want?
Because like many things in life there is a difference between want we want and what we need. We all, at differing levels of fervor, want the comfort zone (it is, after all,comfortable). Yet what we need to reach our goals is likely in direct conflict with the desire for the comfort zone.
So why do I suggest you make discomfort your friend? Let me count the ways.
Five Reasons Why…
Discomfort allows growth. Whether you are talking physically (it`s hard to become more fit while comfortably sitting in your favourite chair, and especially when you first begin exercising, you will feel real discomfort!), mentally (thinking about new things, concepts and ideas requires energy), emotionally (doing something different can be hard), you cannot grow until you push the envelope of your comfort zone.
If you want more of anything in your life – from healthy relationships to a healthy body weight to a healthy bank account (and everything in between) – you must grow in knowledge, skills, habits and more. You must grow, and all true growth occurs outside the comfort zone.
Discomfort builds confidence. Ever noticed that the more you do something successfully the more confident you become? How do you get better at something – by doing it exactly like you did it before? Probably not.
Confidence comes in part from competence, which comes from practicing and trying new things in order to improve. Seethe connection? It is hard to build confidence sitting comfortably in the easy chair.
Discomfort promotes creativity. Creativity is borne of necessity. People create new things, ideas, concepts and products when they have a problem – or in some way are outside their comfort zone.
Often creativity is tapped to help regain comfort, which is great. The point is that when you feel or notice some discomfort or lack of satisfaction with your situation, you will likely be driven to innovate and be creative to find a remedy. If you want to be more creative, look for your discomfort.
Discomfort overcomes resistance to change. When we are comfortable, we are less likely to want to change – almost by definition. When we have a lack of satisfaction or have become uncomfortable with the way things are we are far more open to change. Change, of course, to create a new situation that is better and ultimately creates a higher level of comfort.
Discomfort facilitates goal achievement. This is the culmination of the other four points. If you want more learning, growth, promotion, profits, etc., you must consciously get outside of your comfort zone. Ask yourself this question: “Do you want your goals enough to put up with a bit of discomfort, or even fear?” Especially when you realize that the very discomfort will help drive you to your goals. If so, great. You know what to do.
If not, go ahead and sit back in your comfy place. Just don`t be surprised when you don`t create a better future for yourself.
You have traded it for all that comfort.