Being comfortable is in high demand.
We are surrounded by many offerings all intended to make us comfortable. New homes and apartments offer a comfortable style of living, while new automobiles offer a more comfortable ride. Financial institutions offer advice to provide for comfortable investments, and fashion companies offer clothing that combines comfort with style. Hotels and resorts promise to make us comfortable for the period of time we are away from, you guessed it, the comforts of home. Make no mistake about it, comfort is a big selling point.
Then again, there’s no shortage of opportunities for us to feel uncomfortable. We’ve all experienced situations at work that make us feel uncomfortable. Speaking in front of a crowd or introducing ourselves at a networking function causes many of us a high level of discomfort. Even situations which should lead to excitement can be uncomfortable, such as learning a new skill, sharing an opinion that we are passionate about, starting a new job or taking on a new position. And if you want to be extremely uncomfortable, then quit your job and start a new business.
After working with a variety of people over the years, I’ve realized no one is comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Yet we so often hear that it’s important to constantly challenge ourselves by stepping out of our comfort zone.
Although it’s necessary, it’s not easy. From experience with many uncomfortable situations, here are five profound ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
1. Don’t wait for the perfect time.
Getting started is always the most difficult part. I always say the perfect time does not exist. The perfect time is now. It’s also important to set your intention early on. Find your why and write it down. This way if you get stuck, you can remind yourself about why you made this commitment in the first place.
2. Acknowledge the situation.
I attempt to fully understand the reality of the situation. For example, what is going on? Why is this situation making me uncomfortable? What is going on that is giving me anxiety? Am I in real danger, or am I elevating the perception of danger? What is the worst that can come from this, and what is the best that can come from it?
3. Embrace failure.
You have to be willing to fail to succeed. Take the example of learning how to ride a bike. It takes many times of falling and getting hurt repeatedly. But once you got it, you felt exhilarated. You would never have learned how to ride if you gave up the first time you fell. The same applies to other aspects of life. You must see the value in failure and get comfortable with the process to succeed.
4. Build a network.
I encourage all my children to network as young professionals. It’s important to meet new people outside your social bubble. It opens you up to new perspectives and opportunities. It is certainly uncomfortable to put yourself out there but throughout my career, I’ve found my relationships to be the catalyst for my success. Before I started my company, I had to build a network. By doing so, I was able to learn from others and find opportunities that helped me advance in my career. It’s also encouraging to have a support system and people to go to for advice.
5. Recognize your accomplishments
Sometimes all it takes to get comfortable with discomfort is confidence. A way to build this is to reflect on your past accomplishments. Look at where you were five years ago compared to now. What are you most proud of? Celebrate the small wins. This will give you a sense of hope and encouragement. Don’t forget to track your progress along the way. It really puts things into perspective
If we avoid putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations, will we be less successful? Is not one of the reasons so many of us work and struggle through education, jobs and careers so that we may become more comfortable as we age? Should we fear becoming that person who gives up being uncomfortable to become complacent, refusing to seek out and take on new challenges?
Learning to be uncomfortable is one of the most valuable skills you can master in your professional and personal life.
Like most people, I enjoy being comfortable. Yet, I have also learned to embrace a level of discomfort in my life. It is important to me to continually grow and learn, both in my professional career and in my personal life. For better or for worse, this also means I spend a certain amount of time being uncomfortable. I don’t just sit around and wait for the discomfort to pass. I work to make myself more comfortable.
Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.