Nothing Will Happen If You Don’t Get Uncomfortable
Reluctant to move to a new city? Stuck in a soul-crushing job? Scared to take on new challenges in your career? I know what you have. In fact, I just got your tests back. I’m afraid you’re suffering from Comfort zone’s disease. Don’t fret because it’s highly treatable.
Human beings are instinctively — by default — fearful. What before served as a survival tool now is keeping you from achieving great things.
It can be hard to swallow but comfort plummets creativity and kills productivity. Comfort keeps you from experiencing the raw throb of life. Uncertainty and fear are ubiquitous emotions that we are constantly faced with and sometimes it seems like we are helpless before them. But, should we allow fear to take over our lives?
“Growth and comfort do not coexist” — Ginni Rometty
Fear is your best ally
We often find ourselves fueled by fear, shame, uncertainty, and vulnerability. Why? What do we do that? Our lives are set up to take risks and to be rewarded for doing so. Thus, it will only pay off if you try, otherwise, prepare to live in a constant ‘What-if’ state.
When exposed to an unknown situation our brain releases survival instincts. When this happens, everything that is out of our comfort zone starts flowing in an unrealistic manner. All of the sudden those things you thought you couldn’t do or perform start to unfold. You get new ideas with fresh perspectives, where before there was only emptiness.
Fear can be swept out easily by taking a stride out of your zone of comfort. We continually are riddled and overwhelmed by a system that has told us repeatedly that:
- Our wings must be the same as everyone else’s.
- Our dreams are too good to be true.
- Not everybody can strive only on talent.
- That you are a just a number. And, don’t you even dare grumble about it or you’ll regret it.
No! Your wings are not designed to take you off to a place where you’ll live an ordinary conventional life. Your dreams are just valid as everyone’s and shouldn’t be treated like horrible diseases. Seems like in today’s society dreams are a wasteful use of time and money. This is a huge societal epidemic.
Society itself pressures us to the point where we need to feel uncomfortable even when deciding to choose a different path for our lives, whether this is: your career, love, or spirituality.
When did we decide to become such conformists? How did we get trapped into this traditionalist loophole? Why all of the sudden is one considered a weirdo, an outcast for thinking out of the box?
Going beyond our fears and facing them down allows us to enter into a new world full of possibilities. A whimsical journey waiting to be explored. Sounds remarkably cliché and naive and that’s why I challenge you to give it a try.
For some, taking the next step might may be an enormous hurdle to overcome, but believe me, it is a gateway that will enable you to live fully. You don’t know what you’re missing out until you go out and look for it.
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good and go for the great.” Steve Prefontaine
Don’t get me wrong we all love a steady lifestyle. But, is it just me, or do we frequently confuse stability with happiness?
Unfortunately, comfort has a horrible side. You see, by staying in the same place you risk settling into a life that even you find average. It might make it even harder to thrive than it would be if you moved constantly, try new stuff, or provided yourself with some sort of getaway at least once in your lifetime.
Life isn’t necessarily fulfilling if the promise of stability is eating you alive especially since later you might feel like your almost-perfect ordinary life was stagnant and without direction at all. Don’t we deserve better than this absurd-imposed concept of life?
In my case, comfort makes my body shiver. It elicits a tremor of unease throughout my system — one I sometimes fear I won’t be able to quell. That’s what comfort does to me. It seriously scares the shit out of me. But it hasn’t always been this way.
A few years ago life presented me with an opportunity to move to Europe for college. At the time, I was an 18-year-old high school graduate clueless about what to do with my life. When I told my mom about the possibility of going overseas, she quickly said: “Let’s go, we need to get you a suitcase”.
I was shocked and confused. I asked her why she was letting me go so easily. She added: “Son, you’ve been living in this country [Venezuela] for a long time and it’s time for you to move on and get out of the nest. Opportunities like this come once in a lifetime”
She was right. I often wonder how different my life would have been if I hadn’t moved to Russia and then Spain. I wouldn’t have learned another language. I wouldn’t have traveled so much. I wouldn’t have met one of my best friends. My mom always, always made sure I was chasing my dreams and she gave me the wings to fly. I will always be grateful to her for believing in me and for letting me be myself.
Step outside of your shell
Productive discomfort allows you to thrive on snap decisions, decisions you wouldn’t have taken if you hadn’t had the courage to move on. Before too long, you’ll transition from an OK state of living to a magnificent one. It’s hard to imagine it, if you haven’t been there yourself, but once you experience it, is like a drug going through your veins, a runners’ high release of hormones or ayahuasca trip kind of deal.
I get the fact that for some individuals this represents a death sentence, a self-imposed distress not worthy of a try -which makes sense. Starting from scratch kicks in primitive fight-or-flight responses in our body as it is subjected to unfamiliar experiences and scenarios.
Getting out of a known environment is a daunting task not only because of all the things and people you might be leaving behind but because of losing that sense of security of knowing your place and your surroundings. Something intimidating could become as comfortable as home once you push your boundaries and open your mind and soul to the new experience, whether it is a cultural, physical, mental or spiritual one.
“If you argue for your limitations you get to keep them. But if you argue for your possibilities you get to create them!” ―Kelly Lee Phipps
Discomfort means thriving
Once you’ve steeped out your comfort zone. There are things you should take into consideration. Take it slowly. Don’t rush it. Enjoy every second of it. Be patient though and take the opportunity by the horns as soon as you get it.
At the beginning, it’s perfectly fine to feel left out and without a horizon or with no clues at all, yet I guarantee you that little by little you’ll find your path to awesomeness. Again, you are here to experiment. The familiarity of a safe boundary often brings you ease and security, but are these the right feelings to get to the next level in your personal and professional endeavors?
By breaking out of your comfort zone, you’re setting yourself new boundaries and most of the time this brings to the table an extra dosage of anxiety. You see, by living in an anxiety-free state of mind there’s no way you’re going to move forward in your life. Being aware of what is holding you back is key to understanding what needs to be changed. After swimming in foreign waters you wouldn’t want to go back to that safe pool anymore.
Accordingly, a moderate level of anxiety is more beneficial than you think and it’ll help peak performance as well. A small amount of stress in your body will facilitate your brain to better perform a task. Don’t take my word for it. Psychologists have conducted several studies since 1908 and they have concluded that a little bit of anxiety does wonders to your system and is superb for your health.
“If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.” ―Daniel H. Pink
During times of grim austerity, the best way to reinvent yourself is to get out of your bubble of security and face the audacity of the waters of being free. Alive in a new intriguing environment.
Anyone who’s ever pushed their limits to the fullest and took on challenges will tell you that once they did, they materialized on things they thought were out of reach.
Step outside of the horrible comfort you are in. Break free. Go for it. Ultimately, how do you know if you’ll thrill or fail if you’ve never tried it before?
The safe zone will always be there for you if it doesn’t work out. By definition humans are creatures of habit.
Will the 21st-century man be capable of fighting against this natural feature?