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 . . .
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;
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 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?”
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 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 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.
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!”
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.