You’ve heard the advice: Get out of your comfort zone! Indeed, life takes on a different quality when challenging yourself to go beyond what feels easy now. And if you have goals and dreams, achieving them usually requires stretching past your current competence and confidence levels, and that can feel uncomfortable.
No wonder many people prefer to continue living a comfortable life—one where things always remain the same. It’s just…well…comfortable. And comfortable equates to easy.
Most of us like easy, right?
But remaining in that comfortable state is a long-term plateau existence. You may have worked hard for the comfort you enjoy, and you should enjoy it! But there’s more to life past that point. There’s another peak to ascend.
You know that. You feel it.
That’s your soul whispering to you…even pushing you…to do and be more…to fulfill your potential.
You probably already realize that you are meant for more. And something more exists for you…if you push past the plateau and give up the comfortable life.
Credit Yourself for Creating Comfortable
Comfortable is an achievement for sure. So be sure to give yourself credit for creating comfortable. Unfortunately, many people never get to that point. Instead, they remain caged and struggle to alter their circumstances.
But admit it… A comfortable life likely is not your endpoint. (You know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this post.) The plateau where you now live is not the height of your human potential.
Your soul knows that. It wants more. And to achieve that, you must challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.
So how do you do that while knowing you will feel uncomfortable in the process? I can think of three ways.
Discomfort is Temporary
First and foremost, know that any discomfort you feel while getting out of your comfort zone is temporary. Honestly, it is!
For example, imagine that you want to wake up earlier every morning. The first few days feel hard. You drag yourself out of bed and feel grumpy and groggy for the first 30 minutes. But by the second week, waking up earlier becomes easier; you swing your legs over the edge of the bed, rub your eyes, and don’t even consider getting back under the covers. And by week three, you are eager to meet the day when the alarm clock rings. Two months later, you can’t imagine not getting up early.
Or consider starting a new workout regimen. At first, you might have to force yourself to go to the gym, especially by day three when your muscles are sore and your body tired. However, if you continue your workouts consistently, by the second or third week, you will start feeling strong, energized, and happy, especially since each workout releases all those great endorphins. After about a month, working out is simply what you do daily…and you enjoy the process as well as the benefits it provides.
In both cases, by the second or third month, you may have reached a new plateau you may later choose to move beyond. (Stay there too long, and you enter your comfort zone again.) In the meantime, you have reasonably quickly pushed through your discomfort. And that process allowed you to achieve something you desired.
So, when you decide to move out of your comfort zone, commit to whatever discomfort you encounter for at least 30 days. By then, the discomfort will fade away and become a thing of the past.
Second, challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone somehow. Challenge is one of the human drives. In fact, humans thrive on challenge because it helps us learn, grow, change, and move toward our potential.
Taking on a challenge moves you out of your comfort zone quickly. No wonder you can find so many challenges online for things like weight loss, manifestation, writing books, and accessing your intuition. Most transformational coaches and experts know that people rise to them and want to continue pursuing excellence afterward.
Also, the word “challenge” easily replaces “discomfort.” Discomfort can feel like a struggle—or you might believe you will struggle if you are uncomfortable. But when you reframe the discomfort to mean challenge, your mind will see this as something positive.
The brain—specifically the reptilian brain—is more willing to accept a challenge than discomfort or struggle because it is wired to help you avoid pain or anything dangerous (i.e., anything different). It constantly conducts cost-benefit analyses on your choices and actions, evaluating how uncomfortable it feels to exert effort and if it is worth doing so.
However, the ventral striatum, a brain region that helps process rewarding outcomes, can be helpful when moving out of your comfort zone. It becomes more strongly activated when you achieve something through higher rather than lower effort. And studies show that you can learn to enjoy the journey, regardless of the destination or the discomfort level, because the brain perceives the effort itself as rewarding.
So, don’t focus on the discomfort but on the effort, you are making and the reward you will enjoy when you reach the next summit.
Enjoy Being Outside Your Comfort Zone
Third, decide to be someone who enjoys getting outside your comfort zone. You don’t have to choose to start sky diving or bungee jumping if those things feel scary and seem to have little reward for you (although, to some people, they do.) Simply become someone who thrives on stretching, changing, and growing.
Then do the things that allow you to accomplish that. For instance, you might learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, join a dating app, start an online business, or travel to another country.
I realize you might wonder how you suddenly become such a person. Simple: change your identity.
How do you do that? First, decide to be someone who thrives when uncomfortable—who finds that state exciting, enjoyable, and rewarding because they know they will be better off for having experienced it. Then, do the things that person would do.
By deciding to be such a person, you will much more easily develop the habits and mindsets that align with your “new self.” For example, you can stop telling yourself you hate discomfort and want to stay somewhere comfortable. Instead, tell yourself you enjoy discomfort because it helps you get off your plateau and climb the next mountain.
Neuroscience has proven that by choosing a new identity—and thinking and behaving in alignment with that identity—you create neural pathways that support that state of being. Thus, if you start telling yourself you are someone who thrives on the journey to your next level of human potential, prosperity, health, relationship, or whatever you desire, that journey will become more comfortable every day.
The journey will also become enjoyable, exciting, and fulfilling. And the next time you find yourself on a plateau enjoying your comfortable life, you’ll want to get a little uncomfortable again and recreate that charged-up life.
How do you withstand the discomfort of getting out of your comfort zone? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend or on social media.
If you want to activate your 10 human drives so you nourish your soul consistently, let’s chat. Get on my calendar here. Or join the Inspired Creator Community for group transformational coaching every month. (In March 2023, we begin a new series related to the human drives.)
Photo courtesy of: Gabriel Tovar