How to Make Big, Bold, Wildly Exciting Things Happen in Your Life

You're going to think this is a weird way to begin this article when you read what I write next, but bear with me. You'll see the relevance shortly.

Sometimes in the morning when I'm taking a shower, and it's cold in the house, I can stand under the warm water forever. It feels so good and relaxing that I want to linger there, just enjoying the warm comfort of it.

In fact, I have found myself internally negotiating for more time, because I know I have other important things to do. I'll allow myself just 20 more seconds, 1 more minute, counting backward from 100. Just a little more time in the warm, steamy water. My internal negotiator clearly likes the warm water too.

Over time I've learned that once I'm in the shower, unless I have something really pressing (ie: plane to catch, meeting to attend, water getting cold), I will allow myself to linger far longer than my higher self really wants to. In the scheme of things, I don't want to die saying, “I had thousands of 1-hour warm and cozy showers.”

Recently, knowing that both me and my internal negotiator don't have much will power under warm water, I have given executive authority to my right hand. I now allow my right hand to go directly to the shower handle without consulting me or the negotiator and turn it quickly to the off position. And once it's off, it stays off. There's no thinking or negotiating involved. My right hand just takes action.

This leads me to the main premise of this post.

Fear is not the biggest deterrent to living boldly and having exciting things happen in your life. Comfort is.

Fear is an uncomfortable emotion.

When we are fearful, we are motivated to make the feeling of fear go away. And if we are evolved enough, we realize that the best antidote to fear is to do the thing that scares us. Avoiding the fearful thing only prolongs the discomfort.

Comfort, on the other hand, is an easy state of mind.

Whether it is just a basic lack of negative feelings or thoughts or a state of profound peace and pleasure (staying in the shower, sleeping late, watching a lot of TV, etc.), comfort entices us to stay put. Why upset the apple cart when the cart is swaying so gently and the apples are so sweet?

But if you are. . .

  • taking long showers every day
  • sleeping a little too late
  • watching lots of TV or surfing the Net
  • staying in the secure but boring job
  • hanging on to those extra cozy pounds
  • remaining in a safe but unfulfilled relationship
  • spending carelessly on needless things and not saving for that dream trip
  • avoiding registering for that course you want to take
  • filling your time with easy, mindless tasks
  • sticking to your existing skill set
  • socializing only with your old circle of friends
  • going on the same vacation every year
  • having the same kind of sex on the same night of the week (or month!)
  • doing the same things day in and day out . . .

Then you will never make big, bold, wildly exciting things happen.

None of the actions on the list above are bad. You could do all of them and still have a pretty good life. But that's the thing about comfortable — it keeps you muffled and trapped in “pretty good.” And maybe that's enough for many people.

But look around you my friend.

Look at Stephanie Wetzel, my coaching client/now business partner, who has lost nearly 200 lbs., started a successful design business and amazing blog, who exercises every day after years of being sedentary. Stephanie is now socializing, creating, dating, seizing life by the horns.

Look at Leo Babauta, who was once overweight, smoked too much, ate bad stuff, and was in debt. His life was OK, but he wanted more. Now Leo has one of the biggest blogs on the Internet teaching others how to create great habits. He is making great money and supporting himself and his large family through his blog. He's written books, run marathons, and learns new skills all the time.

Look at Jennifer Boykin, who lost a child, suffered through childhood difficulties and a bad marriage, but she was surviving. Now Jennifer is thriving in a wonderful new marriage, writing for her outlandishly amazing mid-life blog, and making friends with some of the biggest bloggers out there because she's gonna make big things happen!

Look at Jason Gracia, who had a really good job as the president of a sports facility. He was doing well, but he wanted to do something he felt passionate about, something with more flexibility and fewer headaches. Now he has an online business with 2.1 million visitors, 130,000 subscribers in over 30 countries, books, audio programs, coaching, consulting, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in income.

Look at Scott Dinsmore, who had a pretty decent blog on reading for success, but decided he had something bigger to share, a more important story to tell. In a matter of a few months, Scott has created one of the best personal development courses on the Internet and has built his blog to over 11,000 subscribers, all while running a full-time business.

All of these people decided to move out of comfort by giving power to the hand. They made the executive decision to release themselves from the comforts of comfort so they could go from good to great.

This didn't take any special self-confidence or supernatural powers. It just took coming to the conclusion that comfort was holding them back.

Yes, when you release comfort, you might feel . . .

  • fear
  • loneliness
  • discomfort
  • anxiety
  • uncertainty
  • resistance
  • agitation

But all of those emotions are unpleasant and will motivate you to find a way out of them as quickly as possible. And you have two possible exit ramps:

1) you could go back to comfort even though you know it's holding you back;

or

2) you forge ahead through the bad emotions to the big, bold, wildly exciting thing on the other side.

Are there guarantees? Nope.

But if you fail, at least you know you have what it takes to go after big and bold — and it didn't kill you. In fact, just stepping out of comfort is exhilarating in itself!

Is comfort holding you back?

Here's what you can do:

Analyze

Analyze where too much comfort and security are holding you back. In your job? In your relationship? In your health? Now ask yourself, “What is the big, bold, wildly exciting thing I'd rather be doing in this area of my life?”

Strategize

You're a smart person. You are smart enough to know what it takes to get from point A to point B. So what are the specific actions it would take to get you from comfort to big-and-bold in this area of your life? Write them down on a list. Break each action down into the smallest possible actions.

Anesthetize

Anesthetize your thoughts so they can't creep in with negativity and negotiation. Don't allow your thoughts to remind you how comfortable you are, how difficult and unpleasant change can be, how scary big and bold appears to be. Only use your thoughts as a tool for figuring out the steps to get you from point A to point B and to help you overcome any obstacles.

Empower

Empower your right hand to turn the knob, just like I did in the shower. In other words, empower your hands and feet and voice and intuition to do the work in spite of your fearful thoughts or internal negotiator. As Nike reminds, “Just do it.” Make action your CEO. (Not blind, careless action — but the action which derives from your highest self.) Take the actions you put on your list.

Acknowledge

Positive, forward-moving action creates tons and tons ofself-confidence. Every time you take one of the actions on your list, do a happy dance! Give yourself a treat. Acknowledge your big and bold behavior. You are able to release comfort for something better. Yippee for you. You are “da bomb!”

Repeat

Now you can do this with every comfort area of your life. Kick it up a notch in everything you do. Each time you succeed in creating more excitement, interest, and boldness in your life, you will be more self-confident and better-positioned to take charge in another area of your life.

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for this article Barrie. I think you’ve nailed it. Put to words the thing that I just couldn’t quite articulate in my mind. I catch myself thinking that I just need to get out from behind myself. Comfort is the word that I was missing. I just need to get out from behind my comfort. I’ve recently found your website and am excited to continue to learn from you. Thanks so much!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      You are so welcome Cathy. I love that expression: “get out from behind myself.” It is so true! We are often our own impediment, and we don’t even know it. So glad you found us here. ­čÖé

  2. Barrie,
    Boy can I relate to that feeling of a nice hot shower. Unfortunately, I can also relate to the negative effects of comfort. I have begun to sleep later and later (I’m self employed). My business is just clicking along without any extraordinary effort on my part. It’s very comfortable. So comfortable, I’m not motivated to grow my business. I am however making efforts to re-launch my personal blog in the next few months. That seems to be the only “business” that really excites me. Thanks for helping me “put a finger” on what has me in limbo.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Congratulations on your success David! It just shows that reaching the mountain top isn’t allows what brings us the most happiness. It’s the striving and working toward something bigger and bolder that is most satisfying. You can rest in the comfort of success for so long before you feel that tugging again! ­čÖé

  3. Hi Barrie,

    Indeed comfort is more subtle than fear is when it comes to sabotaging ourselves. It does not seem to do us any real harm unless we look at the bigger picture and the long run. If we allow our need for comfort to dictate our lives, then meaningful change can never happen. Worse still, we stagnate without even realizing it.

    I enjoyed reading the steps you have put together to help us to overcome comfort. I think it is vital for us to take a step back to analyze where comfort is holding us back. Only by being aware and conscious of what comfort is doing to us can we hope to take meaningful steps to deal with it. After that it is a matter of crafting a plan that is sound enough to get us out of our comfort zones by any means necessary.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Irving,
      You are so right — meaningful change is what we are after, that’s what creates the restlessness when we are comfortable for too long. Life is about continued growth. Stagnation is a slow death of who we are meant to be. Always love your comments Irving!

  4. Jon Sollie says:

    Hey Barrie,

    With just a few exceptions, your list of “comfort zones” could serve as a check list for my daily routine(s). Ugh, how easily we can fall into behavior patterns that provide courses of least resistance. As a “senior” senior citizen, I can say from experience that very few negative aspects of our lives can’t be turned around with very pleasing results.

    To hell with the ticking clock, or the perceived “closing window of opportunity”… just get out there and grow where you need to grow. The “ultimate comfort zone” is inevitable, so throw away the “ticking clock” and do something now :-)!

    All the best,

    Jon

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Amen to that Jon! Who says we are limited by age — or anything for that matter. The fun is in the trying, the striving. That’s where we really learn.

  5. Doctor Cris says:

    Ahh, comfort. We are all drawn to it because it makes us feel good. I never really thought about comfort holding us back—now that I think about it—I agree with you. What a coincidence, I was reading about self-discipline and how to use it to reign over your life. Giving yourself permission to turn off the warm water, make mistakes, not be perfect, etc., help us to be and do what our spirit inspires us to do. We have time and the inclination—because we have bold and exciting goals to reach. Thanks for sharing your insight with us!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Cris,
      It’s kind of like the lesson our parents taught us about delaying gratification (or cutting it short). We can either sit in the shower, or on the couch, or in the bed, or we can jump up (even if it’s cold or uncomfortable) and go do something thrilling! If not now, when??

  6. Fantastic article Barrie. I’m sharing this.

    The only thing I would add to your excellent list of suggestions would be to consider involving other people as part of one’s strategy. A few weeks ago I started an early morning hiking group on Facebook solely for the purpose of getting my own butt out of bed and up the hill. Even though people were enthusiastic, 7:30 AM is challenging and for the first few weeks I was the only one who showed up, but putting myself out there as the “leader” gave me incentive to keep my word. The days I have hikes scheduled are now the best days of the week. I’ve been outside, gotten my exercise and still have the whole day ahead of me. I find I have more energy on those days, too.

    Today it was just me again and the trail I usually take was closed. My comfort zone would have dictated going back home and maybe take a walk on my street. It was such a beautiful morning I decided to drive another area of the park to explore a different trailhead. I was rewarded with new views of the city, a trail side vegan restaurant, and a couple of fascinating people including a fellow who just won an Oscar! It may not seem like much, but these early morning hikes are making me feel so much more alive. I still take my warm showers, which I love too, but only AFTER I’ve gotten up and out of the house.

    I saw a quote recently that I’ll paraphrase: “Step outside your comfort zone. That’s where the magic happens.”

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Oh Linda, I wish I could be part of your hiking group!! I would show up. Good for you. That’s a great idea — combining exercise, nature, and socializing. It sounds fantastic.

  7. Paige | simple mindfulness says:

    This is a great perspective Barrie! We tend to think that “bad” things like fear hold us back. Who would have thought that it’s the things that feel good (but not great) that can hold us back. Love it!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Paige,
      Yep, it’s those things that lull us into inaction that can be our undoing! So glad you enjoyed it Paige.

  8. I think you make great points about comfort and it can be a considerable hindrance. However, I also find that business is a hindrance as well.

    I have an approach that keeps me moving forward without being frenetic. I call it my one step at a time approach, so I am thinking in terms of next steps and each next step is small so I don’t scare myself to death with each new step. The only time it is difficult is when I am entering a major new phase which can feel overwhelming.

    I am also a great believer in taking frequent breaks to assimilate and make sure that I am not going too fast or too slow so that I am doing the work that needs to be done. Slowing down can help you do better work.

    Thanks for a good article.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Maria, that is a great way to tackle new things — one small bite at a time. Moving forward without being frenetic! You nailed it with that comment. That is the way we want to live our lives. ­čÖé

  9. Excellent article Barrie,
    little that I can add…duly shared with my Universe. Thankyou.
    be good to yourself
    David

  10. Great article, Barrie!
    The whole piece is wonderful, but your main point is the one that jumped out at me and, I think, changed my thinking for the better within a space of about 5 seconds. Of course: fear is not the deterrent – comfort is. On some level I knew this, but perhaps I was just too comfortable thinking it was fear that was holding me back! This is the second time today I’ve been presented with the idea of taking action outside of my comfort zone. I think it’s time to start paying attention! Thanks so much for this. I’m going to link to this on my Facebook page.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Bobbi,
      Thank you for sharing that. I love it when an article connects with someone just at the right time. Yes, you are getting strong messages to push yourself. Great things await you!!

  11. This was an awesome blog, what great comments. I agree whole heartedly!!

  12. AMEN! Discomfort is where the real growth is. Life gets serious, and exciting, just beyond our comfort zone. That’s one of the reasons we love travel sooo much. It can really pull you out of your comfort zone and that’s when you really start to grow. We are traveling from AK to Argentina with 5 kids, because we want to live deliberately and make a difference in the world. Talk about uncomfortable situations! But it’s totally worth it. Our best experiences and our biggest growth come from moving beyond our comforts that tempt us to hold back.
    Thanks for the post!

  13. I guess that’s why they call it the “comfort zone”. I agree that fear should be sufficiently uncomfortable to prompt some action but comfort and safety keeps you put. A very useful distinction. Thanks for sharing it and the steps to move past it.

  14. Thank you for everything you write! I love your blogs!
    This particular blog helps me understand my friends around me. I am a natural risk-taker and am confused with those who seek comfort first. But this blog helped everything make sense! I will be more patient with them and I now know the words to say to them to encourage them to make the “leap!” to adventure and risk. =)
    Now, I also just read your Control Freak blog and I am nervously admitting that could be me…gulp. But your words have opened my eyes and I will TRY to relax and let go a little more, although I will admit that I really don’t know HOW! I will keep reading your blog to figure it out. ((Smile.))
    Keep up the great writing!!