How many times have you heard, “You have to get out of your comfort zone,” or “To grow you need to feel uncomfortable?”
You know this is the biggest truth ever, right?
But sometimes I start to feel people say this because it is the right thing to do. I even started to hear this from 6-year-old children. WHAT??
I get it…they say this because that’s what they were told to do, and it is not wrong!
But children do the uncomfortable thing naturally. They are the most curious people, and they are the ones who adapt faster to any type of uncomfortable situation.
And remember the times you ARE comfortable as well! Enjoy those moments, as they are the self-strengthening experiences for when you feel uncomfortable.
The moments or situations you feel uncomfortable are temporary. This means you will begin to feel comfortable after a while. You won’t always feel uncomfortable about the same things because your comfort zone will expand.
“My comfort zone is like a little bubble around me, and I’ve pushed it in different directions and made it bigger and bigger until these objectives that seemed totally crazy eventually fall within the realm of the possible.”
– American rock climber, Alex Honnold
What does ”Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable” mean?
This is a quote that is not identified by an author, but everybody uses it, including the Navy Seals.
I learned this concept during my specialization on Women Leadership by eCornell, where we were challenged to put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, so we could learn how to be uncomfortable and be okay with it.
I decided to start simple and challenged myself to ask the barista at Starbucks for a discount each time I go in. The first day, I was so uncomfortable that I froze at the last second. The second day, I was so nervous I couldn’t even talk clearly, but I embraced the challenge. After 5 days, I was already expecting different answers and by the end of the week, if the barista said no, I was asking why.
This was a very easy and quick challenge to learn to live in uncomfortable situations. Surprisingly difficult to begin with, but I’m proud of myself for pushing through. The great part of this exercise is deconstructing the different emotions. I went from completely embarrassed the first time to completely natural and free by the time the challenge was over. After this exercise, I ask for discounts quite often! What’s the harm? The worst thing that could happen is they tell me no.
I gave up on Starbucks though (they never offer discounts without a Starbucks card).
Now you understand why being out of your comfort zone is so important, and you are the one who can decide what to overcome those situations and boost your confidence.
Please see below the 4 tips to make the process easier to expand your comfort zone:
1. Be intentional.
Understand the area of growth, choose situations addressing those growth opportunities, so you are the one in control. Having the feeling of being in command makes everything easier.
2. Keep it short.
This is like having a plan B. For example, I am going to this networking meeting, but I am going only for 30 minutes. This makes the situation less painful and less stressful and allows you to be more present during the time you are attending the meeting because you know it’s temporary.
3. Expect failure.
You are going to be okay if it doesn’t go right. The process is more important than the results. And no matter what the situation is, the fact you showed up is an opportunity to learn.
Share with a close network what your experience was. This is like a report of your improvement, when you say it to yourself or to others it magnifies the effect. If you present it as a learning experience, you will gain a cheerleading crew, which is always an encouraging boost of confidence.
Being okay in uncomfortable situations is a skill. The more you practice, the more you master it.
So the more uncomfortable situations you put yourself in, the more you will grow.
These 4 tips can be seen as a sequence of steps. Provoking change is not an easy thing to do. That’s why hearing your inner voice is so important, so you can be more confident with yourself and deeply understand your personal purpose.
Like Eleanor Roosevelt said,
“Do one thing everyday that scares you. Those small things that make us uncomfortable help us build courage to do the work we do.”
Let me know in the comments one thing you can do that could make you uncomfortable. A small thing or something that will really challenge you!
If you run out of ideas, follow the same challenge I did asking for a discount when you go to a store or restaurant, but not at Starbucks. 😉