If you are alive and breathing, you are on the field of adversity in the game of life. And sadly, on this field, there are no rules. Anything goes…even a pandemic. Your ability to navigate through life over and beyond the challenges it presents is greatly connected to your mindset towards the game. Over the years, I have found that of all the mental skills needed to master these challenges, learning how to effectively manage discomfort is the most important.
Reflect back on a time when you fell short of a goal. Is it possible that your inability to handle the consequential discomfort was what stood in the way of your success?
What would change if you could handle discomfort more capably and effectively?
Would you stop procrastinating? Or perhaps master your diet? Could you commit to exercising every day? Would you successfully complete everything you start?
Of course, you would…
However, most of us avoid discomfort. Although it is the biggest obstacle to success, avoiding discomfort is a hard habit to break for many people.
So how do you free yourself from the self-imposed limits that stem from this misguided behavior?
The key to expanding your comfort zone is to practice becoming more comfortable in challenging and uncomfortable situations.
Here’s a 5-step process to expand your comfort zone.
- Challenge yourself every day: Over the past several years, I’ve practiced a steady ritual: I wake up each morning and kill something. Sounds extreme? Let me explain. I get up at 4 AM and I do something that’s very difficult and challenging – basically, something I do not want to do. For me, my first discomfort of the day is found in the gym. That’s where I measure and push myself beyond my previous achievements – whether it’s lifting weights, running on the treadmill, or flying on the elliptical. The idea is to get out of bed, hunt down my challenges, and kill them. This is one of many resilience strategies I practice daily to expand my comfort zone and strengthen my mindset for change. It has become a ferocious habit.
- Start small: If you are new to expanding your comfort zone, start with something that will enhance your life but won’t be overly challenging or time-consuming. Find your baseline and add a little bit to it each day or week – whatever works for you. Put yourself in new and challenging positions which present opportunities for success.
- Push through the discomfort and embrace the pain: Expanding your comfort zone is not a pleasant feeling. On the contrary, it’s tough, and sometimes even painful. However, keep reminding yourself that the discomfort and pain are temporary. Avoid quitting whenever you feel the urge to give up. If you keep practicing and pushing beyond your current levels of comfort, the pain and discomfort will lessen. You’ll find that what was once painful and uncomfortable will become familiar and surprisingly ordinary.
- Acknowledge and study your discomfort. A powerful way to deal with discomfort is to simply acknowledge and study it.
How does discomfort make you feel? How do you naturally respond to it? How does that response benefit or serve you? What empowering behaviors can you implement to reverse it?
Acknowledging, studying, and not becoming emotionally involved with your discomfort will allow you to discover practical techniques you can use to expand beyond them.
- Push a little further the next time. With anything and everything you do, you can always do just a little bit more the next time.
Each time you work through a little more discomfort, it gets easier and easier and expands your capacity to deal with it.
Expanding your comfort zone is all about learning how to manage, master, and even conquer discomfort.
Only those who go the extra mile can find out how far they can go. – Anon
Imagine what you could accomplish if being uncomfortable didn’t stop you! Challenge yourself to accept and master the discomfort that shows up on your field. Erase your limits. Expand your game. Think of the possibilities!
Comment below and tell me how you are doing in expanding your own personal game. I’m looking forward to hearing from you
Resilience Trainer & Facilitator