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Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

It's probably safe to assume that you're well acquainted with your personal comfort zone, right? When was the last time you took a step outside that comfort zone?

Harvard Business Review published an article called "If You're Not Outside Your Comfort Zone, You Won't Learn Anything," and that really got us thinking...they're right (no surprise).

 

Comfort Zone

 

In our comfort zone, we do what's, well, comfortable. We stick to our routines, and we know what we like and we like what we know. But if we keep doing things the way we've always done them because it's the way we've always done them, we won't grow, we won't learn, and we won't experience anything new--which, for some of us, is the exact reason we avoid it. New is scary. New is new. New is different. New is change. New is uncomfortable. Here are three tactical ways to help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

 

Being uncomfortable is good for our personal growth and development, even though it doesn't feel good. Either way, it's something we better get used to, or at least learn ways to deal with it so our anxiety or discomfort don't interfere with the learning opportunities available to us. Here's how you can help yourself...

 

1. Baby Steps

241Start small. There's a scene in "What About Bob" where Bob (played by Bill Murray), riddled with anxiety and phobias, has to board a bus. The only way he can do so is with baby steps, literally chanting "Baby steps on the bus" all the way to his seat.

 

Let's say you have a goal or desire that means you'll have to do something that's uncomfortable in order to achieve it. For example, you want to write a book, but you don't want to submit it to any publishing companies out of a fear of rejection or criticism. Start small--join a writer's club or ask a close, willing friend to take a look at your manuscript and give you some feedback!

 

And, what if you want to get your PMP or some other professional certification, but you really don't want to take the test? Take practice tests as part of your study plan! Do what you need to do in order to feel confident and prepared on Test Day.

 

2. Understand Your Excuses

many-coral-red-alarm-clock-1We often justify avoiding things that we know we should do--or should want to do--but don't, because, while we know it will be good for us, we just don't want to make the commitment. We tell ourselves and others why "it can wait--[I don't have time right now]." Is it because you don't have time, you're not ready, or it will be hard and you don't wanna?

 

Think of something you've been meaning to do, but haven't gotten around to yet. Why haven't you done it? What's your primary reason for postponing or avoiding it? Now ask yourself: "'If someone else offered you those same excuses about their behavior, would you see these as excuses or legitimate reasons to decline?'" (HBR). Once you get to the root reason behind why you're putting something off, you can decide: is this a legitimate obstacle, or is it an excuse I'm making for myself so I don't have to do a hard thing?

 

3. Bring a Buddy

diverse-excited-best-friends-giving-high-five-together-cafe-meetingDon't go it alone! If you can, find a friend to participate with you or at least cheer you on. Accompany each other on this journey-- commiserate when the going gets tough and cheer each other on. Chances are if something makes you uncomfortable, it makes someone else uncomfortable, too. If you can find those people and connect with them, it will make the idea of attending that networking event or that conference more bearable.

 

Look for study groups, workshops, classes, online forums, webinars--we guarantee that you're not the only one who gets squeamish about the thing you're avoiding.

 

So if you take baby steps, understand your excuses and bring a buddy, you can get comfortable with being uncomfortable and learn new things. How do you become comfortable with the uncomfortable? Let us know on social media! 

 

Sinikka headshot 2017

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day.


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