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How to be comfortable with discomfort

discomfort is your compass

“Discomfort is your compass!” It’s amazing how those four words capture what’s likely THE most powerful concept of change.

Here’s why:

The only way to change your outcomes is to change your actions.

If you:

  • Keep grinding away at a job that makes you unhappy but don’t change anything, how will you feel about your situation next year?
  • Don’t like your house or where you live, but don’t take any action to change your situation, where will you be living next year?
  • Aren’t happy with the way you look and feel, but keep eating and exercising the way you always have, how will you look and feel next year?

The reality is:

👉 If you want different results, you have to take different actions.

But there’s more to it than that. There’s still one question we have to answer.

What keeps you from changing your actions? And the answer is: discomfort.

Change Is Uncomfortable

A client once told me in a perfectly accurate statement, “Change is simply uncomfortable!”

  • If you do what you usually do, that will feel, well…comfortable.
  • But if you do something different that will – by nature – feel uncomfortable.

New actions are uncomfortable because we’re not used to doing them. That is until we are!

If we take new action consistently, it becomes easier and more comfortable.

But until then, we must face discomfort.

5 Ways To Be Comfortable With Discomfort

1.) Seek discomfort.

Imagine someone at work brings in a box of cookies. What’s the comfortable thing to do?

The comfortable way:
Grab a few cookies and eat them, right?

But that’s not what we want. We’re looking for the opposite of that! We want different results, and we’re actively looking for different actions.

The uncomfortable way:
The hard thing to do is to skip the cookies and save our indulgences for when it’s worthwhile.

2.) Start fresh, right now.

“I start a new diet every Monday and the first of each month!”

If we indulge today, it’s easy to start “tomorrow” or “next Monday” or “next month.”

The comfortable way:
It’s easy to tell ourselves, “Forget today, I’ll start fresh tomorrow.”

Or:

“Forget this week. I’ll start fresh Monday!”

But:

How many times have you “started” your diet “tomorrow” or “next Monday”?

The uncomfortable way:
The uncomfortable thing to do is: get back on track right away!

We’re all going to have those challenging times. It’s inevitable. But it’s what we do in those times that makes all the difference.

We all take a wrong turn every now and then, but it doesn’t help to drive in the wrong direction for hours. The quicker we get back on track, the faster we get to where we want to go.

3.) Start down the path!

Some people would rather “jog in place” knowing they’re not going anywhere, rather than trying something different.

Why?

Because trying something different is – wait for it…….uncomfortable.

The comfortable way:
The easiest thing to do is to keep on doing what you’ve been doing – and hope and wish something changes.

(Of course, us MBT-ers know that hoping and wishing isn’t a strategy. If nothing changes…nothing will change.)

The uncomfortable way:
Ask for help. If we’re stuck “jogging in place,” it takes courage to ask for help, doesn’t it?

And before that, it takes a willingness to be honest with yourself.

And if we’re being totally honest:

  • If you were taking the right actions, you would have succeeded already, wouldn’t you?
  • Where will you be in 3, 6, 9 months if you keep doing what you’re doing?

Asking yourself questions like this helps you be honest with yourself. And they don’t only apply to your health and fitness.

(Of course, this is where daily and personal accountability comes into play. And it’s one reason why we get the results we do.)

4.) Take ownership of your actions.

The comfortable way:
When we run into problems, the easy route is to fall back on excuses and rationalizations.

  • “I’ve got too much going on in my life right now.”
  • “I’m drowning in work. I’ll wait until it slows down.”
  • “I just don’t feel motivated.”

The uncomfortable way:
Without a doubt, the hardest thing to do is to remove the excuses and face the fact that: If we want to see results we have to take responsibility for making it happen.

5) Embrace the discomfort.

New diets and programs — or anything really — can be fun and exciting at first.

We start off with lots of ‘motivation.’ But, eventually, the newness and excitement wear off. It starts to feel monotonous.

And that’s when we start to question ourselves.

  • “Am I still working on this?”
  • “Do I really want to lose the weight?”
  • “Is this that important to me?”
  • “Is this really worth it?”

The comfortable way:
When the newness is gone, the simple thing to do is to start a new diet or jump to a new program.

The most natural thing to do is to quit and tell ourselves:

“Next time will be different.”

Or:

“Next time I’ll try harder!”

Or:

“Next time I’ll be more motivated to push through.”

The uncomfortable way:
The hard thing to do is experience discomfort.

Whenever we have a choice — let’s try to choose the harder — the more uncomfortable route — the majority of the time.

If you do, success will follow. Because when you’re changing your actions, your outcomes will change too.

 

We come to realize that the only thing standing between us and our goal is discomfort – then we learn to embrace the discomfort because it will take us down the right path.

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