A common piece of fitness advice is to “find comfort in discomfort.” The basic premise is that you cannot move forward and grow without pushing yourself past the boundaries of your comfort zone and into new territory. You need to learn to recognize that being uncomfortable means positive change. This advice is beyond fitness enthusiasm: it is a mantra for achieving life success.
Our personal habits revolve around avoiding stress and discomfort at all costs. It is difficult to see the long-term benefits in short-term excursions outside of our comfort zones, especially when the hurdles to surmount are particularly distasteful. Lucky for us, our brains are hard-wired to propel us to action once we begin to feel some level of stress and discomfort. The key is finding balance: too much stress can lead to the undesirable meltdown, while not enough stress will keep us imprisoned in our comfort zones, well out of the reach of meaningful actions.
If you’re ready to push towards optimal performance — and are prepared to handle the discomfort that comes along with it — then it may be time to embrace these uncomfortable tasks.
1. Meditate daily
Meditation may sound simple, but anybody who has tried — and failed — to consciously still their mind will tell you otherwise. Take a few minutes every day in a quiet space to forget what is going on around you and find some perspective. It may not be comfortable to “do nothing”, but it will physically improve your brain by increasing density in areas responsible for self-control and focus.
2. Tackle the “impossible”
You know that list of things you keep that you’ve always wanted to do, but don’t do them for fear of failure? Get it out and start knocking off tasks. Achieving goals that you think are impossible not only challenges you, but gives you an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that boosts self-esteem and overall well-being.
3. Wake up earlier
This may be your least-favorite challenge, but the benefits of early wake-ups are worth the discomfort. Waking up even an hour or two earlier gives you time to get more done in your day. You will have the opportunity to plan out your daily schedule, squeeze in some exercise, meditate, and eat a solid breakfast that will fuel the rest of your day.
4. Speak in public
If you’re one of the 74 percent of Americans who fear public speaking, then this task will be especially challenging. Even if you need to start out in a room with five audience members, any level of public speaking is a boost to your confidence and career. Tip: speak about something you are passionate about — you will feel more knowledgable and less like you don’t know what you’re doing.
5. Say no
We all need to say no at some point in our lives in order to keep from being overwhelmed. Not only does saying no honor your existing commitments, but it frees up time and energy that you could spend on more important — or enjoyable — things. Make sure your “no” is decisive, though; phrases such as I’m not certain leave room for negotiation.
6. Practice self-control
Lashing out at an irritating coworker or the inconsiderate neighbor brings short-term benefits and long-term problems. Wrecking relationships beyond repair for the sake of being right in a conflict is hardly worth it. Keeping quiet and considering the wisest move will keep your relationships and sanity intact.
7. Make new connections
Talking to unfamiliar people is a fear right up there with public speaking for most people. Even if social interaction is something that makes you uncomfortable, it is a tool for widening your professional and social networks, increasing self-confidence, and absorbing new ways of thinking.
8. Stop procrastinating
Stop putting off things that you know you should do just because they are difficult. Start with one or two things on your “must-do-but-don’t-want-to” list and get them done. The “I’ll do it tomorrow” mentality never brings about success. If you want to improve your chances of being successful, then you need to complete every task, even if it is undesirable.
Comfort zones are stagnant — you will never accomplish things within them. If you can “find comfort in discomfort” in life, then you can greatly improve your chances of success.