For the longest time in human history, we had to get a little bit out of our comfort zone in order to increase our comfort. We had to go hunt to get our food, to gather some fruits or vegetables in order to eat, to grab or cut some wood to make a fire and warm ourselves, to go to the local inn to get our news.
When you get comfortable getting uncomfortable, bit by bit, day by day, things don’t seem that hard anymore. It’s part of the journey. Part of daily life.
But here’s how we changed our world. We are in a constant strive to increase our comfort. You now have a thermostat to keep a constant temperature. You can get your news while being in bed. You can even work from bed.
Our constant strive to be comfortable created ideal conditions for us to be safe. The problem is that it’s incredibly easy to feel stuck. It’s pretty hard to increase your comfort as well.
While increasing your comfort is expensive, you need to keep an eye on another thing.
We often get so captivated by our daily routine, so entrenched in our comfort zone. Especially during this pandemic.
If you want to progress, you need to step out of your comfort zone. A little bit here, a little bit there. Just so you get used to that feeling of slight discomfort.
There is actually a pretty cool fear framework that you can reliably apply to extend your comfort zone. (See practice)
Fear and comfort zone are basically two sides of the same coin. You love your comfort zone because you feel safe, you can focus on what you actually want to do and not anything else.
You don’t exit that comfort zone because you are afraid. You are afraid you will lose time, you will lose comfort, you will lose energy.
We are so obsessed with being efficient with our time, that we forget that the only way to grow is to deliberately engage in new activities.
That means we will not be efficient. That means we will lose some time. That means we are out of our comfort zone.
At the same time, that’s the only way we can grow. We can only improve ourselves if we know our limits. We can only know our limits if we try to reach them.
Yes, that means getting dangerously close to burnout. Yes, that means putting stress on yourself. The difference is, you are doing this willingly. You don’t find yourself being overwhelmed. You deliberately add things to your schedule until you feel overwhelmed.
You know you can cut some of those activities, but it’s important to push through it. It helps to put a reward at the end. Give yourself a day off.
The immune system
I’m not going to talk about the real immune system here, but about another thing. When you put pressure on yourself, you will feel the urge to go back to the comfort zone. This is what I mean.
You will feel a strong urge to go back to safety. Don’t let that urge overwhelm you. But make no mistake, this urge is incredibly strong and hard to resist.
The easiest way to overcome it is to have an actual plan before you start. If you know it’s doable beforehand, you will have an easier time going through it.
It can also help to have a deadline or a schedule of some sort. If you want to exercise, make it 10 minutes or 30 minutes, whatever.
It’s easier to do something you don’t like when you know when it’s going to be over.
It’s easier to push through something you don’t like if you know you have a reward at the other end.
You need to give meaning to your struggle, otherwise, you will just feel miserable.
I believe this to be an integral part of self-awareness. Know your weaknesses, know your limits. Test your weaknesses, test your limits. Push your weaknesses, push your limits.
Do something that scares you a little every day.
Do something that scares you every week.
Do something that terrifies you every year.