How to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable (5 Expert-proven Tips)

Jordan Tarver
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November 23, 2021

You may prefer to take the easy route in life—or live inside your comfort zone—but that's not necessarily in your best interest. Of course, choosing comfortability and avoiding situations that pose risk will keep you safe; however, it creates a ceiling for your life. Learning how to get comfortable being uncomfortable gives you an opportunity to reach your greatest potential and live life to the fullest.

Why Should I Want to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable?

Your comfort zone is a behavioral space where you can easily minimize stress, risk, and failure. Achieving any goal—especially the goal of self-discovery and experiencing personal growth—will require you to put yourself outside your comfort zone for some point of time. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable will help you take advantage of those opportunities outside your comfort zone and evolve into the best version of yourself.

If you don't get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you may never have anything better than you have now. You'll continue to live a life safeguarded by the same routine and patterns that keep you from making the changes, achieving the goals, and becoming the person you crave most.

Related Reading:

To learn more about the importance of getting comfortable with being comfortable, read my in-depth article outlining seven reasons stepping outside your comfort zone can change your life.

5 Tips to Get Comfortable Being Comfortable

Getting uncomfortable with being comfortable happens by taking action and developing a positive mindset. There are various actions you can take to build up the confidence to embrace discomfort, and they don't have to be out of the ordinary. Repeating small actions over time will give you the self-confidence to choose discomfort over comfort as your ideal way to live. Here are my recommendations.

1. Try a New Activity That Interests You

In the pursuit of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, you will likely have to do try unfamiliar activities—those outside the norm. And there are two types of activities you can try: those that interest or don't interest you. If you're like any sane person, I'd assume you'd trend toward choosing something that interests you. But if you're a unique individual who wants the challenge of trying a new activity that doesn't interest you, power to you—to each their own.

When you step outside your comfort zone for the first time, you'll find it easier to do a new activity that interests you compared to something bland that strikes no meaning in your life. Because doing something unfamiliar and unpredictability are like two peas in a pod, following your interests increases the your willingness to accept the challenge. 

In the beginning of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, the goal is to reduce the likeliness of you backing down from the test. Achieve this by trying a new activity that interests you compared to one that doesn't.

2. Face a Challenge Without Worry of the Outcome

As humans, it's effortless to become fixated on results. We put pressure on ourselves to perform well, meet our own and others' expectations, and avoid feeling like a failure. However, living in fear of our own performance builds four walls and a ceiling around us, shrinking and minimizing our potential. 

If you crave getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, you'll need to rewire your relationship with failure and face challenges without worrying about the outcome. Going into a challenge worrying about the outcome—meaning having a negative outlook on the situation—will inspire you to retreat to safety. However, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable asks us to not retreat to safety.

Give yourself permission to face a challenge without focusing on your results. Over time, this will train your mind that challenges aren't something to fear—you either overcome the challenge or learn something new that improves your life and effort the next time around.

Let go of your ego for once and see what benefit it can provide you.

3. Shake Up Your Daily Routine

Routines give life structure, structure creates predictability, and predictability breeds comfort. Add it all up and routines inevitably keep you in your comfort zone, unless, of course, your routine includes trying something new that interests you. As much as you probably love the structure your daily routine adds to your life, if you want to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, it's time to shake it up—it won't hurt.

I believe daily routines are crucial to propel you in your personal growth journey, life, and career. They nurture streaks of success and high levels of performance because, after all, they remind you when and where to take action. However, I also believe it's beneficial to break your routine temporarily (in positive ways) every so often. For example, if you:

  • Normally wake up at 6 am, wake up at 5:30 am
  • Exercise at the end of your day, exercise before work
  • Journal for five minutes, journal for 15 minutes
  • Meditate for 10 minutes, mediate for 20 minutes, or 10 minutes twice per day
  • Prepare lunch every day, prepare your meals for the week on Sunday
  • Stay inside throughout the work day, take a 15-minute walk after lunch

 

When you break your routine, you shock your system with unfamiliarity—landing you outside your comfort zone. Over time, you'll build up confidence around your ability to deal with unpredictability and become increasingly more comfortable with discomfort. 

It's like building a muscle: just how you can apply the leg strength you build from doing squats at the gym to other areas of your life, you can also apply the confidence and mental toughness you build from breaking your daily routine to other unpredictable situations that come your way.

4. Change Your Mindset Around Failure

Failure is one of the most uncomfortable and vulnerable challenges you will face. It strips you of your pride, confidence, and willingness to seize your biggest life aspirations—whether that be career-, family-, or personal-related desires. But, as much as you may not want to hear this, failure is an unavoidable part of life. Because it's something you will face if you have not already, it's imperative to change your mindset around failure to get comfortable with its discomfort.

Changing your mindset is as simple as seeing failure for what it truly is: a learning opportunity. Most people see failure as a fast track to being knocked off their saddle, but that's only because they haven't been shown how it's a beneficial aspect of life. Here's how I teach it to my community: The more you fail, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you grow. This helps you become more comfortable with coming up short and rewires your mental relationship with failure.

Related Reading:

To learn more about the positive side of failure and how to use it to your advantage, read my in-depth article introducing my unique framework: growth hacking failure.

5. Reflect on Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

As you embrace your courage and step outside your comfort zone, reflect on your experiences after they take place. Self-reflection is a powerful tool that lets you look at an experience neutrally and understand the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions associated with it. 

For example, let's say you choose to try a new activity that interests you. After you finish the activity, take 10, 15, or 30 minutes reflecting on your experience to understand its impact. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did you feel after doing something outside your comfort zone? Was it harder or easier than you expected?
  • Would you make any adjustments the next time around? Or was your approach successful? 
  • How can you put yourself in uncomfortable situations more often to build your confidence?
  • What benefit did stepping outside your comfort zone provide you? Was it as bad as you originally thought?

 

Reflecting on your experiences will help you reveal what went well and what you want to adjust the next time you step outside your comfort zone—essentially building a mental toolkit to help you be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Benefits of Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

  1. Prepares you for life's unpredictability. Whether you think so or not, life is an unpredictable energetic tornado. You can't tell the future and understand when you're going to get hit by a healthy dose of life's unpleasantness. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable will help you manage those unpredictable and unpleasant situations more easily. You'll have the mental toughness to weather the storm.
  2. Builds the confidence to face challenges. Every time you do something unfamiliar or uncomfortable, you vote toward your self-confidence. Each action outside your comfort zone strengthens your ability to face future challenges.
  3. Promotes personal growth. When you become comfortable with discomfort, you begin to see how it adds more value to your life compared to living in your safe zone. And the harsh truth is that your safe zone doesn't breed personal growth because everything is predictable and constant. Change and unfamiliarity—or discomfort—promotes personal growth.
  4. Helps you cope with change. Change is uncomfortable. Most of the times, though, we make change difficult because we are not ready and, as a result, resist the change. However, if you are comfortable being uncomfortable, you'll have a more positive experience coping with change because of your ability to manage discomfort.
  5. Requires you to learn more about yourself. Getting comfortable with being comfortable is likely a new experience for you. When you have new experiences, they often help you understand your character more. So not only can embracing discomfort give you greater access to life, but it can also give you greater access to who you are at your core.

Evidence-backed Benefits

The benefits of getting comfortable with being comfortable and stepping outside your comfort zone have been proven by various studies over the years. Here's some evidence you should know about:

  • A Yale study found that if you're not outside your comfort zone, you're not learning. The research shows the stability—or predictability—flips your brains learning centers off. If you can predict the pattern of an experience, such as your daily routine, there's no need for you to learn. However, the moment you can't predict what's happening, such as being in a place of discomfort, your learning centers switch on.
  • Becoming comfortable with discomfort can help you live outside your comfort zone more often. And while living in a state of relative comfort can produce steady performance levels, stepping outside your comfort zone can maximize your performance, as shown by a classic psychology experiment. This is also known as "optimal anxiety," where your stress levels are slightly higher than normal but enough to manage and perform well.

10 Quotes to Help You Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

  1. “My comfort zone is like a little bubble around me, and I've pushed it in different directions and made it bigger and bigger until these objectives that seemed totally crazy eventually fall within the realm of the possible.” — Alex Honold
  2. "Uncomfortable doesn't mean bad, uncomfortable simply means you're doing something you haven't done before." — Joe Vitale
  3. "I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time." — Michael Phelps
  4. “As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” — Robin S. Sharma
  5. “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both.” — Brené Brown
  6. “Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
  7. “The hardest thing to do is leaving your comfort zone. But you have to let go of the life you’re familiar with and take the risk to live the life you dream about.” — T. Arigo
  8. “Great people do things before they’re ready.” — Amy Poehler
  9. “Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end…because in the end, it shows you a whole new world.” —Manoj Arora
  10. “I will guarantee you that the day you step outside your comfort zone by making success your goal, is the day you discover that adversity, risk, and daring will make life sweeter than you ever imagined.” — Mark Burnett

Bottom Line

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is essential to your personal growth and handling unavoidable future adversities. While it's a challenging journey to start, it provides rewards that pay dividends for the rest of your life. Use the five tips outlined in this article to embrace discomfort and live life outside your comfort zone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordan Tarver is a lead editor at Forbes, a keynote speaker, and the bestselling author of You Deserve This Sh!t.
He’s transformed over 30,000 lives through his book, amassed more than 200,000 devoted followers, and garnered over 60 million views online. Jordan is on a mission to empower people and organizations to unlock exponential growth and expansive possibilities.
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