Three months ago we were living in a small, cozy apartment in a city that plays host to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Life was easy. We had a gym, a mall, the beach and a smorgasbord of restaurants all within walking distance of our home.
The problem with easy though, is that it quickly becomes routine. With nothing to challenge us, we found ourselves stagnating. Sure, we kept busy with things like work, volunteering, hiking and so on, but something was missing. We weren’t being challenged.
Rather than expanding, it’s as if our comfort zone was shrinking. Determined not to end up like my mother —who, in later years, refused to do much beyond go to the local coffee shop for a cappuccino and a slice of lemon meringue pie— I decided the time had come to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
According to T. Harv Eker —who has a bunch of life-changing quotes— the only time you can actually grow is when you are outside your comfort zone. That’s good to know, but theory is nothing without action, so how do you actually get out of your comfort zone?
Turns out it’s equal parts scary and obvious. Essentially, you do whatever scares you. For us that meant quitting the lease on our apartment and agreeing to house-sit a permaculture farm for a month. Yikes.
The experience had us feeling uncomfortable from the get go, which in the past would have seen us running for the hills (or in this case, the farm gate). But we reminded ourselves constantly of our mission and while it was unimaginably hard, it was also rewarding in the extreme.
It showed us what we were capable of, something living smack in the heart of our comfort zone never would have revealed. We’ve since moved on to our next adventure and we’re more uncomfortable than ever. But, we’re also happier and more fulfilled than we’ve ever been.
SAY YES TO LIFE
While there’s always going to be a time and a place for saying ‘no’ to something, saying yes more often brings with it myriad benefits. Among other things, it opens the door to new possibilities, it attracts positivity and it forces you to stretch yourself.
Before embarking on our mission to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, we used to say ‘no’ a lot. We always had an excuse for why we couldn’t do something and it was invariably pretty lame. We’d say things like ‘We have to be up early’ to avoid going out at night, for example. Lame, right?
These days we say ‘yes’ a lot. Sometimes to big stuff —like pet-sitting in the ostrich capital of the world for four months— but oftentimes to regular stuff, like lunch and coffee dates. Not surprisingly, our lives are way better for it.
EMBRACE THE DISCOMFORT
Our idea of discomfort will look different from yours though, so brainstorm some ways to step outside your comfort zone and do one (or more) of them today. It’s not going to feel great while you’re doing it, but that’s the point. It’s about finding out what you’re capable of.
Learn to lean into the experience and embrace it wholeheartedly. When the going gets tough (make no mistake, it will), remember the wise words of Abraham Maslow, “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”
Finally, if you need a little inspiration to get you going, watch Luvvie Ajayi’s TEDx talk: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. As someone who’s made it her business to be a professional troublemaker, Luvvie knows firsthand what it’s like to face your fear and do it anyway. Also, she has really cool shoes.