by Kathi Szabo

You made your New Year’s Resolutions or Intentions. Maybe you set your goals and are setting your strategies to get there. Are you including doing those things that make you uncomfortable? Are you stepping out or are you staying right where you are?

Growth requires change and change requires doing things differently.  If we don’t do the uncomfortable, we don’t move forward.  We stay stagnant. It’s like taking the same road somewhere every day. And one day you don’t even remember how you got there.

Our mind goes on autopilot and when that happens, we are just going through the motions. We are on that hamster wheel of mediocrity.

Being uncomfortable is not the same as saying something is difficult or that it’s hard. So many of us believe we must work hard for everything, our jobs, our relationships, our goals. We tend to think that anything worth having is hard.

But working for something is different than the work being hard.  Just as doing uncomfortable things is also different than the work being hard.

Let’s tackle stepping out of our comfort zone first.

You’ve heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.” If it’s not insane, it’s still not the way the Universe works.

When we want something different in life, like maybe having more patience with our family or co-workers, yet we don’t do anything different, we stay in our comfort zone of behaving and reacting the same way as always, how would we have more patience?

Yet so often we set an intention, but then we get stuck in our comfort zone of doing the same things.

We can even get so comfortable with being sad or angry, it’s our go-to emotion! We say we don’t like it, but our brain is wired to repeat that emotion because our brain likes certainty. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s certain. We know how to be sad or angry.

In this example of wanting to behave more patience, to embrace the patience that is inside of us, we must get uncomfortable. Patience may not be our go-to emotion or action, so it doesn’t feel comfortable.  Yet, only by allowing ourselves to feel uncomfortable, by letting go of the anger and feeling patience instead, will we begin to change and create the person we actually want to be.

Using Character Strengths

One of the things I teach in my Total MindShift Coaching program is how to use Character Strengths to achieve your goals.  What are Character Strengths? Character Strengths, as defined by Values In Action, are the positive aspects of your personality. There are 24 of them and we each possess all of them. What makes us uniquely different than others is how and to what extent we use them.

Now you may be thinking, “yes, using my strengths, of course, would help me achieve my goals.”  But what if I told you that you can be happier and more successful when you embrace your signature strengths in a new uncomfortable way.

It’s true. We are happiest and most like ourselves when we use our signature strengths, (those that are most like us and that we use every day). But we activate our growth mindset when we use them in a new and different way, challenging us to embrace being uncomfortable.

Take for example that one of my signature strengths is Love of Learning (which it is). But I like to learn independently by reading and watching videos online (which I do). If I have an intention this year to open a retreat center (which I do), I may find myself achieving it faster if I use Love of Learning in a new way.  Instead of learning independently, maybe I take a class or find a mentor or workshop to engage with others. I am still using my comfort zone, my signature strength of love of learning, but I’m using it in a way that is not my comfort zone.  I will get uncomfortable.  But that uncomfortableness is a good thing. It is opening up new pathways in my brain that will continuously help with my intention of opening a retreat center.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Hard

Being uncomfortable is not the same as it being hard. When we believe something is hard, we begin to immediately formulate doubts in our brain. We start thinking we will not enjoy it. That we won’t be able to do it. We won’t accomplish whatever it is.

Things are only hard if we believe they are hard.  When we are uncomfortable, that is not a decision or belief, it is an emotion. A reaction in our body.

When I am uncomfortable, my body tightens up, my belly feels a bit queasy.

But when I believe something is hard, my body doesn’t do anything. Something being hard is all going on in my mind. It’s my monkey mind. It is a decision I’ve made.

Your perspective of something being hard, and mine, may be completely different. It is simply our belief that something is going to be difficult. It is a decision we are making. AND we can decide to believe differently.

What if we decided it is not going to be hard? That we may be uncomfortable, but that it will not be difficult? Would that change your perspective? Would that change how you strategize?

It’s Never HARD, it’s just Uncomfortable

What if we looked at challenges as not being difficult, but simply uncomfortable? New and unfamiliar situations trigger our brain to release dopamine, which has been noted to increase our happiness. When we are happy, we are in a powerful state. And when we are in a powerful state, we make better decisions. When we make better decisions, we grow. And when we grow, we continue to create the best version of ourselves.

Give yourself permission this year to be uncomfortable. To embrace the new neural pathways that are created when we step out of our comfort zone.

And decide that things don’t have to be hard just because they are uncomfortable.

In fact, being uncomfortable can be easy when we decide to step in with excitement. When we decide that when we feel uncomfortable, we are growing