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8 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You More Successful

8 Uncomfortable Things That Will Make You More Successful

It happens to all of us, whether we bring it on our selves or it just shows up. That pit in your stomach. The butterflies. The times when our palms start to sweat. I’m talking about when we are thinking about things we don’t want to do — the things that we know we should do in order to get to where we want to go. I know you know what I’m talking about and I guarantee you have at least one thing in your mind you are thinking about right now.

You might be thinking of that dream or big goal that you want to accomplish one day. The book you want to write. The business you want to start. The big audacious goal that scares the daylights out of you but keeps you dreaming because you know you can do it. The problem is that there are a lot of steps along the way that are uncomfortable. It can be as small as that email you don’t want to send or that person you don’t want to call, even though you know at the end of the day it will make you better and that much closer to your goal.

Here is a list of eight of those uncomfortable things, though the list could go on and on. Let’s be honest: we all procrastinate. How do you overcome procrastination? You make things easier to do.

It’s not rocket science. When you do uncomfortable things more often, they become more comfortable. Maybe after doing these things more often, you’ll lose that pit in your stomach the next time it’s your turn to show up.

1. Waking Up Early

We know we should do it and that it will make us feel great for the rest of the day. We feel energized and ready for the day the one time a month we finally do it. So, why do we not do this every day? I’ll tell you why I don’t: because my bed is so warm and comfy! When my alarm wakes me up early and I know I can either a) Get up and spend some time for myself before the day gets started, or b) Spend another hour or two getting some more Z’s, I’ll pick the snooze button almost every time.

We’ve all heard the interviews with the most successful people telling us about their early morning routines. How they read, work out, make a healthy and organic breakfast, and then still have time to journal all before work. It’s pretty hard to believe they’ve ever heard of a snooze button.

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One thing that I started recently to help me wake up a little earlier is the Five Minute Journal. It has been a great first step in waking up earlier than normal. The best part is, it’s only five minutes earlier than I would usually get up!

2. Public Speaking

Talk about a pit in your stomach! The only people you meet that love public speaking are public speakers! They do it all the time and likely get paid to do it. You can’t be successful without someone giving you a stage to tell your story. You can try to avoid it all you want, but it comes with the territory.

People striving for success (like you and me) want to know how successful people got to where they are. How do you think they tell their story to us?

Public speaking, like everything else on this list, is something we need to start doing to make it more comfortable. Whether it’s volunteering for a toast, starting a video blog, or chiming in when the speaker says “does anyone have any questions?”. That’s our turn to push through the discomfort!

3. Exercising

You might be saying “Hey, I exercise all the time and I’m still not successful.” Maybe you’re not, but you are one step ahead of most of us! For those of you, like me, who break a sweat twice a week every 30 days (aka 2 times a month), exercising isn’t on the list of top to-dos. Maybe you just can’t seem to find the time. It’s time to make the time.

I wish they would come out with a study that shows that getting that extra hour of sleep before work or the extra episode on Netflix before bed gives you more energy and is better for your body than exercising, but I still haven’t seen it. Instead, I keep seeing studies like this one from Harvard that reads “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills,” and just hoping they misplaced “exercise” when it should’ve said “doughnuts.” Still waiting on that study.

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4. Networking

You just received an email in your inbox that reads, “The local business professional networking group will be at the office from 5:00 to 5:30 today, please stay late to network with them.” This just makes you jump for joy, right? Not even close! You know you should, and you might meet an awesome connection to help you with your next goal or job, but your soft, warm couch is calling your name in a calming, late-night radio voice that you can’t resist.

I give the excuse of “I am terrible at small talk and I could care less about meaningless conversation.” It’s a valid excuse and my go-to every time. It doesn’t get me anymore connections and I never meet anyone exciting or new because of it. Let’s start small and start asking questions.

The people that are the most charismatic and outgoing ask the most questions. Have you ever noticed that? You don’t need to make small talk. Ask questions and let the other person talk. The truth is that the more people talk, the more they like you. Strange, but true.

5. Taking The Blame

This point does not read “taking the blame for someone else.” This is about admitting your own mistakes when you mess up. It’s so easy and comfortable to quickly make excuses for when you mess up. When a mistake is made and no one takes the blame, it’s hard to move forward and get it fixed because no one wants to fix someone else’s mistake if they won’t fess up.

This one is so simple, but it’s not our first reaction. Leaders take responsibility. When they or their team mess up, they take it on the cheek. The best part about this very uncomfortable action is that it helps everyone quickly move on. You can’t move forward unless you start to look in that direction. Take the blame and take the next step forward.

6. Continuously Learning

You know your dream and your goals. Are you reading the right books to reach those goals? Are you attending seminars and conferences in that genre?

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I was very guilty of this for a long time. I was reading books that I wanted to read, books that were comfortable. Of course, reading is a great hobby. If you are a reader, don’t stop. If you are not, start!

The uncomfortable part is reading books that you know will get you closer to your dream or goal, but are not on the top of your reading list. Don’t just read for joy, read to build your knowledge.

 7. Unplugging

If the leader of the smartphone revolution didn’t let his kids use his own inventions, there must be a benefit. There are more smartphones than humans on this planet now. We are even starting to wear these devices on our wrists because it’s too difficult to reach into our pockets to read texts! We are all guilty of the smartphone and other technologies ruling our lives.

If you want to be successful, do as the successful do. Who doesn’t want to have the success Steve Jobs had? He limited the time his kids spent with technology because he knew it would slow them down in the long run. As much as we like to think our iPhones keep us more connected and more efficient, they don’t. We could get a lot more done in a day if we weren’t checking out what our friends are eating, where they are in the world, or perfecting our next post to make them just as jealous.

You know exactly what I’m talking about — we are all guilty. Let’s get uncomfortable and start unplugging at the times we want to plug in the most!

8. Meeting Adversity On Purpose

Who is ready to face the most difficult and most uncomfortable thing they can think of and jump headfirst in? Adversity is more simply defined as “Difficulty.” I’m not talking about feeling good when you start off your day with a spilled latte. That stinks, but I’m talking about getting in over your head, taking on something that you know you can’t accomplish right away, but that you believe in yourself enough to try and make it happen.

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The great philosopher John Wayne said it best, “Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.”

There is a quick story in the Bible that I love about a man named Benaiah:

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, mighty in deeds, struck down the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion inside a pit on a snowy day.

He went face to face with a lion and killed it. Not with a gun in perfect weather, but on a snowy day with some sort of ancient weapon— he faced a deadly predator and conquered it.

What gives you a pit in your stomach that you know will make you a better person, a better parent, a better boss, a better employee, or will help you reach your big audacious goals? If it’s uncomfortable, it’s probably something we know we should start doing.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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