Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

By |

One of my favorite personal and professional mottos is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

I have used this phrase in many moments of fear, doubt and shear panic: when training for an event that seemed undoable, when starting a new job, when going back to school, when going on my first date with my husband. And for every time I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, held this motto close to my heart and plunged into something that made me want to pass out/barf/pee my pants, I have come out a little stronger, a little wiser and a little better (oh, and married, in one instance.)

I want you to think about the biggest transitions in your life – the events that changed you forever, welcome or unwelcome. Think about schooling, working, dating, marriage, childbearing, physical accomplishments. . . In order to succeed in any of these, you likely had moments of discomfort, dread, fear. But you put on your big girl pants, got comfortable being uncomfortable and did what you needed to do to make these events the events that likely came to define your life.

Conversely, in any rough & tough situations (divorce, death, job loss, unraveling friendships) you have faced, you had to make a very big decision to get comfortable being uncomfortable and power through with every ounce strength and courage. And these events, too, came to define who you are.

Raise your hand if you like change?

My hand is dragging on the floor right now. I HATE change. HATE IT. It scares me to death. In fact, when my mom dropped me off at college, I pretty much lost my marbles. I called her hysterical everyday for a week begging her to come get me. Imagine an 18 year old sobbing uncontrollably (yes, tears, snot, all of it) as if she were two and an half. That was me. It was pretty.

Fast forward 4 years . . . I begged my mom to let me stay a fifth year in college – because I was too scared to leave. She didn’t let me. Smart woman.

That is how I handled transition for much of my early adulthood. Complete fear. Many meltdowns. Sky high anxiety.

In 1998 I accidentally changed how I handle discomfort, change and transition. That is the year I ran my first half marathon. That event changed my life. I can’t talk about it or write about it without tearing up. It was the first time I ever took on a challenge that scared me to death and KNEW with every ounce of my being that I would conquer it, even if it killed me (which I was quite certain was a possibility).

One of my mentors recently told me that success comes from two things: the thoughts that occupy your mind and the people with whom you surround yourself.

I signed up for this half marathon in 1998 at the urging of some co-workers who thought it would be a “fun” challenge. These women knew I could do this race. I certainly had my doubts, but they knew. By race day, I knew it too.

I was successful because of the thoughts in my head and the people I chose to have in my life at that time. This was a defining moment in my life.

Had I not gotten comfortable being uncomfortable I would have been unable to endure the training, mental and physical. I would have quit. I’m not a quitter. I may be a scaredy cat, but I’m not a quitter.

When I look back at all the changes in my life since 1998 (there have been many BIG ones), I can say I have really pushed myself to GO BIG, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to go home. The fear is still there. The anxiety still keeps me awake at night. But I have shown myself over and over that I am a better person for every uncomfortable situation I have endured.

On two separate occasions in the last few months, I have had new Boot Campers come up to me and say, “I’ve been coming to class for awhile now, but it still feels really hard. I thought it would feel easier by now.” To both of them I said, “You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Once your head stops acknowledging the physical discomfort, you will be able to power through your workout. You will KNOW YOU ARE STRONG rather than presuming you’re weak.” For both of these ladies, this was a pivotal moment. They came back to me later and said that mind shift made all the difference.

How you control the thoughts in your head makes all the difference.

It’s easy to say you must step out of your comfort zone to grow. But it’s very hard to grasp what that means. Do you look back at your life’s challenges, struggles and triumphs and note how they made you bigger, better, stronger? If you don’t, you should. This will remind you to KEEP STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.

I didn’t know when I ran that first half marathon in 1998 that it would lead to me running many more half marathons, a full marathon and a ton of triathlons. I didn’t know that it would ultimately land me back in school to become a fitness professional. I didn’t know it would be the first little step toward opening my own business years later. But in hindsight, all this is very obvious. So, now I make myself acknowledge the good and the bad that come out of every challenge in my life. Because from there I can see how I’m growing and becoming a better business owner, trainer, friend, wife, sister, daughter, woman.

I note when others in my life step out of their comfort zones to get comfortable being uncomfortable, as this inspires me. Here are some of my favorite examples:

*My client Jane who recently completed my 4 Week Rapid Fat Loss Program. She came in very intimidated. She knew she was among the oldest ladies in the group. She hadn’t exercised in years and certainly not in a Boot Camp setting. Her first week she lost 9 pounds. More weight than any of the other 27 participants. She emailed me after that first weigh in to tell me she cried the whole car ride home because she had never been the best at anything. She had never seen herself as someone who could do anything better than anyone else.

*My client Anna, who decided to workout at the beginning of her fourth pregnancy. She had never done much more than yoga and did not workout during her first three pregnancies. She bit the bullet, stuck to a program until the end of her pregnancy and had the best of all her pregnancies: more energy, easier labor/delivery and super speedy recovery. Not to mention she was back in her pre-pregnancy jeans in just a few short weeks and smaller and more toned than ever in her life within a few months.

*My husband, who begrudgingly committed to hiking the Inca Trail with a group of friends and me. After the first full day of hiking (and making me chase him up the trail, despite my superior conditioning) he told me this was one of the best experiences of his life.

*My client Erin, who fought breast cancer in her 20’s. A 5th grade teacher, she taught straight through multiple surgeries and chemo. She is now 9 years cancer free and intent on living a healthy active lifestyle that will keep her that way. When the doc gave her the go ahead, she and her husband decided to start a family. She is now the mother of Avery, who has the biggest and best cheeks I’ve ever seen on a little lady. Sometimes life THROWS you out of your comfort zone and you have now choice but to get comfortable with the unknown real fast. As horrendous as it can be in the moment, your appreciation for every moment after is exponentially greater than it ever was before.

*My client Dorothy, who came to me in her 70’s to start training. Our years of work together has kept her mobile through multiple surgeries. I frequently push her out of her comfort zone. She yells at me. But when we’re done, she agrees that she’d like to be able to get on & off the toilet for many years to come, so she’ll keep doing her “(*expletive*) squats”.

*Anyone who SHOWS UP to the first day of Boot Camp, or one of my weight loss programs or online programs. In many cases life’s biggest transformations come from simply SHOWING UP. It is in taking that FIRST step out of your comfort zone that the transformation begins and your journey from the inside of your bubble to the outside of your bubble where you can become something more and see things in an entirely new way.

I can’t think of a time when I’ve known someone to regret stepping out of their comfort zone. While scary and daunting at the time, the lessons learned, the growth experienced and the resulting insight, confidence (aka badassery) and pride are always worth the risk, despite the success of the outcome.

Show up for your life.

Take one small step out of your comfort zone each and every day. It can be as small as a smile at a stranger.

Change the thoughts in your head.

Surround yourself with people who support you.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

(If you found this post to be helpful or you think it may help others, be sure to click that little “Like” button below :).)



Powered by Facebook Comments

Leave Your Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Facebook Like Button for Dummies