“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” — Hunter S Thompson
Pause for a second. Think about how you got to where you are today. Would there be a pattern somewhere?
I am often fascinated by people’s journeys. How an ex-marine becomes a history teacher or a screenwriter. How a mother and wife, who had multiple careers and children, started to pursue music or art or teaching after denying herself that opportunity for years. Or even a young student who started doing something, rather than watch T.V or daydream.
So what is this subtle, sometimes overlooked pattern?
People who succeed relentlessly shatter their comfort zone.
They do it even if their core starts to tremble; they know they have to do it, regardless of failure, because it’s what their heart desires. At that moment, fear isn’t tranquilizing; instead, it propels them forward.
The new, first-time salesman has no idea what they’re really doing. They follow the script that their manager gave them to make a sale. The salesman gets comfortable with this bullet-pointed instruction manual and never attempts to step out of it. And yet, they wonder why “we’re just looking around.”
The salesman who throws away the instructions, engages with their customer, pays attention to their desires and needs, has a better chance of making that sale — even if their mind is saying, “No, look at the manual.” Do they always make the sale? Maybe not always. But they learn, adjust their strategy, and give it another go. They master themselves. They fail forward.
Breaking out of that comfort zone is one of the most difficult tasks. But what it ultimately does is help you master yourself.
Purposely be uncomfortable
I reflect back on my journey often.
The times I willingly sought out discomfort was when I became aware of my bad habits. The habits, that if I didn’t fix soon, would have buried me. Because I knew that change was hard — changing my habits, day-to-day activities, and perspective on things — it was because I pushed through that comfort zone I was able to redefine myself.
Steven Pressfield said: “I can divide my life neatly into two parts: before turning pro and after. After is better.”
I can pretty much say the same. There was life when I was unaware of what I was doing, how I felt, and how I reacted to things. And there was life when I started practicing self-awareness, became aware of all the roadblocks in my life and what I had to do to fix them). Yes, after is much better.
I’m not preaching to walk around uncomfortable like you have shit in your underwear. Never that.
Do something that scares you. It can be anything. It can be as simple as looking someone in the eyes and telling them what you really feel. It can be jumping off that diving board. Starting that book you’ve been wanting to write. Getting back into drawing, photography, or music. Asking yourself tough questions that you’ve been avoiding.
Whatever it may be, do it often. Do it now. Practice breaking through that comfort zone to master yourself. To learn, unlearn, and then relearn. To find your success.
Be honest and ask yourself, What are am I scared of? Honestly?