5 Ways Getting Uncomfortable Will Change Your Life

You’re too comfortable. You just are.

I recently had friend tell me that he won’t come to train with our group because he doesn’t like being out of his comfort zone.

This hit me like a ton of bricks because it’s just not how I’m personally wired. I’ve managed to spend much of the last two decades wiggling my way out of that warm, cozy place that most people like to stay curled up in their favorite Snuggie petting their cat… the comfort zone.

Many of you know that I was lucky enough to experience life on the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade for over 15 years. But what many of you don’t know is just how barbaric and base that place actually is.

It can definitely stretch the Ol’ Comfort Zone pretty far and wide.

With a smile on my face I remember the last time I had to break into a new trading pit. They call it “breaking into” a pit for a reason. I knowingly walked into a crowded pit of grown men who instantly judged me based on how I looked while hating me because I was now a competitor. That was the easy part. The verbal barrages of insults and threats were a little worse, but not as bad as the outright assault on my intelligence and general manhood. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t roughly 50 on 1 most of the time. If they weren’t yelling at me, they were laughing at me, which is arguably worse.

Over time, I won many of them over and even made some great friends. The biggest takeaway, though, was that the experiences (all 4 “break-ins”) enabled me to become comfortable around almost any group of people that I don’t know. I’m now extremely thankful for those experiences, and look back on them with a smile.

But…that leads me to a quick list of gains to be made when you find yourself outside of that cozy place, and forced to adapt to something new. Now I am not saying that the only way to grow is to experience discomfort, but I am saying that I know from experience that you do grow immensely when you find (or put) yourself outside of it.

Please tell me this isn't you on the couch. Please.

Please tell me this isn’t you on the couch. Please.

1. Strength

Living outside your comfort zone will inevitably help you become a stronger person in most every way. The more you realize what you can withstand in life, the easier it becomes to withstand similar (or comparable) experiences in the future. It was a little bit easier, each time I had to break into a pit, much like public speaking becomes easier each time you do it. Remember how hard your first days in the gym were? They were outside your zone, but forced you to grow stronger. Are you not in many ways stronger than the day you walked in?

2. Adaptability

Have you ever travelled to a non-English speaking country? You were forced to adapt to your surroundings pretty quickly, right? Without choice, you adapt and learn how to function. It doesn’t matter if you are back in that same country or in a completely different one, you’ve now learned how to figure it out, and also know it won’t overwhelm you the next time you travel. You can adapt much more easily to any new situation, having these experiences in your toolbox.

3. Success

It’s been said that you fail at the edge of your experience. If that holds true, and I believe it does, the remedy is clearly to simply expand that area inside of the experience box, cutting down on the area of failure outside of it. The equation is simple. Greater experience equals greater success. Embrace a new level of discomfort and you’ll also embrace a new level of success.

4. Confidence

Strength, Adaptability, and Success all add up to increased Confidence. Once you’ve established that you are a strong person, can adapt to various situations, and are successful, you will undoubtedly experience a dramatic boost in confidence. And thus begins the cycle. When you survive life outside your comfort zone, you’ll realize that it’s ok and you’ll know you can thrive there. Your zone will become dramatically larger and your hesitation to leave it will become noticeably weaker.

5. Stories

Think of all the great things you could have experienced if you would have taken off your Snuggie and gotten outside your comfort zone. Maybe you skipped out on an adventurous trip to lay on the beach for an unmemorable tenth time. You can’t even remember what garbage magazine you read once you got there! Maybe you passed on the crazy race with your friends because it made you “uncomfortable”. Whatever it was, you can’t tell the awesome (or horribly awesome) story that goes with it. And now you’ve got to sit quietly while your friends won’t quit talking about it. For me, most of my best stories come from chances I took. I can say I’ve boxed in front of 2000 people, and peered through a cage and into the eye of a Great White. Even scarier (and much cooler), I tapped my future wife on the shoulder to introduce myself in a crowded place. I can’t describe how nervous and uncomfortable I felt going into those situations, but each one was worth it.

So back to my guy who won’t come in because he doesn’t like to be outside his comfort zone. Maybe he is right, maybe this isn’t for him, and that’s totally fine. An awesome community of inspired people living BIG just isn’t for everyone, and I can appreciate that. But the thing is, my guy will never find out because he will never take the leap. The upside for him is that he and his cat will hear some pretty cool stories from his friends that do.

Carry on, and get out there doing and pushing other people to do the same.