Have you ever noticed that when you’ve been comfortable for a long time, you get a little stale? Do you know why that is? It’s because comfort and growth simply do not occur at the same time. It may as well be a law of the universe. You have to pick one over the other.
Our natural inclination is to be comfortable. After all, comfort is safety, and being safe has its advantages. The desire to be comfortable and safe prevents us from accidentally falling off the roof or intentionally driving our car into a tree.
Unfortunately, the only way any of us can truly grow is by having the willingness to stretch ourselves and try new things.
For example, imagine joining Toastmasters International, a public speaking organization. Although this might be uncomfortable for many people, it’s hardly dangerous. How would you feel about giving a speech every week?
Consider how much something like this could change your life.
You would be exposed to new people and ideas and learn a new skill. You could get over a fear of public speaking. That surely has the potential to impact your future more than repeating the same routine you’ve been doing for the last 6 months.
Try these ideas to embrace growth:
1. Consider the long-term. Where will you be in one year if you continue down the same path you’re currently traveling? Answer: In the exact same place you are right now. Any other result would be due entirely to luck. Do you want to rely solely on luck?
- Before rejecting a growth opportunity, think about where you might end up if you don’t at least try.
2. What is the real risk? Consider what the worst outcome could possibly be. Can you handle it? If you can, then you should move forward. If you can’t then it might be best to find a better option.
3. Realize your time is limited. Everyone seems to believe they will have more time. Hence, most of us put things off until another day. We erroneously believe things will be easier in the future.
- Everyone only has so many tomorrows. There is rarely a good reason to procrastinate. Just get started!
4. Start small. For example, instead of going back to school full-time, maybe it would be easier to try taking one class at a time. Ease into change and you’ll likely realize it’s not really as challenging as you thought.
5. Make a trade. A great way to grow is to trade one routine for another. Instead of watching TV every night, go to a yoga class or join a book club and meet new people.
- What has the last year of television done for you?
- What would going to an exercise class every day do for you?
- What could reading books and meeting new people do for your social life?
6. Be brave. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being uncomfortable. At the end of the day, all emotions are just your interpretation of physical sensations you experience in your body.
- You don’t have to let your discomfort stop you. With practice, pushing through emotional discomfort becomes easier.
Stepping outside your comfort zone is uncomfortable by definition. However, that’s where personal growth is experienced. The longer you stay in one place, the more challenging it is to make changes. Your thoughts and actions become more repetitive, and you’ll usually find yourself in a rut.
Move into a place where your life can grow and get better. It’s not the easiest path but it is the most fulfilling. Pick one area of your life and start moving forward today. You’ll be glad you did!