As often as possible I try to be productively uncomfortable. It might sound like a ridiculous thing to aim for. Shouldn’t we try to be as comfortable as we possibly can?
I don’t think so.
You learn so much more when you’re not. This is true of everything. You learn the most about yourself, new situations, people, technology, places. If you don’t push yourself to the next big thing, the unknown, then I truly believe you are capping your capacity to grow.
This has to be a mindset, a mantra if you will. The belief that not knowing something is better than knowing everything. That you should be trying to learn as many of the things you don’t know as quickly as possible so that you can be a more rounded, successful and increasingly ambitious and educated person. That you need to put yourself out there to grow at a trajectory that creates real change.
For the last 5 weeks I have been away from my husband and two children. When they dropped me at the airport to leave, I didn’t want to go. I was that woman at the counter checking her bags through tears, being assured that it would all be fine and that I should just enjoy it.
It was very uncomfortable. Not because I was crying, but because I had never been away from my children for so long. I was scared of what I would miss, but also excited about the opportunity ahead of me. I had chosen to be uncomfortable and I had to own it. The start of the 5-week journey was hard.
I had to adjust to a different time zone and settle into a ‘new’ life for that period of time. I knew people where I was going in the U.S. and I had work to do, so I wasn’t completely and uncontrollably uncomfortable, but it was a journey. Five weeks later, I am home again and I can tell you that I have changed, just by the smallest amount, but in a very significant way.
I was put in plenty of situations where I had no idea what to do next. I met plenty of new people, each of which has enriched my life in ways that I am grateful for. I learnt to be on my own after years and years of being convinced I couldn’t do it. I learnt to further appreciate technology and the chance it offered me to see my family every day, from the other side of the world. I was reminded that by having an open heart and an open mind almost anything can happen.
I learnt a lot of things are easier than they once seemed. And that some things were much harder. All of which have changed me, just a little bit. For the better.
If you are not willing to be uncomfortable, strategically and predictably, then there’s a chance you will never awaken so many opportunities and get to the core of who you are.
Next time you let someone else be the driver of your life, or you fall into an old habit because it is easier… choose the hard way. You never know where you will end up.
The image at the top of this post was captured while running on a freezing day in Northern Virginia. The leaves had started to change and the river was a small, hidden vitory that I didn’t know was there. It was uncomfotably cold, but it was beautiful!