Get uncomfortable! Five reasons to make discomfort your friend

Don’t you just love the comfort zone? Most of us do. We look for, strive for and have created products and entire industries to help find and maintain high levels of comfort. You’ll find this desire for the comfort zone in all areas of life – physically, mentally, emotionally and more; we are hard wired to seek comfort.

So why would any self-respecting writer write something that seems so counter to what we all want?

Because like many things in life there is a difference between what you want and what you need. We all, at differing levels of fervour, want the comfort zone (it is, after all, comfortable). Yet what you need to reach your goals is quite likely in direct conflict with this desire.

Do you want to improve; do you want to grow; do you want to advance yourself, your team and your organisation? If so you must stretch past your comfort zone and become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Five reasons to make discomfort your friend:

  • Discomfort allows growth. Whether you are talking physically (it’s hard to become fitter while comfortably sitting in your favourite chair – 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 unless you push the envelope of your comfort zone. If you want more of anything in your life – healthy relationships, a healthy body weight, a healthy bank account – you must grow in knowledge, skills, habits and more. You must grow, and all true growth occurs outside the comfort zone.
  • Discomfort builds confidence. The more you do something successfully the more confident you become. Confidence comes in part from competence, which comes from practising and trying new things in order to improve. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at any skill. A lot of effort and discomfort – but don’t you think you’d then be pretty confident? See the connection? It is hard to build confidence sitting comfortably in your easy chair.
  • Discomfort promotes creativity. Creativity is borne of necessity. People create new things, ideas, concepts and products when they have a problem – in other words, when they are outside their comfort zone. 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 – often to help regain your comfort! If you want to be more creative, look for where you feel discomfort.
  • Discomfort overcomes your resistance to change. When you are comfortable, you are less likely to want to change – almost by definition. When you are dissatisfied or have become uncomfortable with the way things are you are far more open to change. Change, of course, is usually in the direction of a new situation that is better and ultimately creates a higher level of comfort!
  • Discomfort helps you achieve your goals. This is the culmination of the other four points. If you want more learning, growth, promotion, profits etc, you must consciously get outside your comfort zone. Ask yourself this question: “Do I want my goals enough to put up with a bit of discomfort, even fear?” When you realise that the very discomfort will help drive you to your goals, great. You’ll 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’ve traded it for all that comfort.