Comfort is an easy place to live. We know what to expect, exactly what we can handle, and we have control over it. We can tuck comfort in our pocket and when things start to get tough, we just tap our hand on that pocket and we’re reminded we can take a step back to our comfort zone.
This place is where many of us choose to live our lives. After all, who doesn’t want to be guaranteed a life free from failure? Where every day may not be the greatest day you’ve ever had but it certainly isn’t the worst. If you never fail then you’ve got to be doing something right…right?
As a coach and an athlete I encounter this decision making on a frequent basis. In my own training I spend a lot of time under stress. WIth multiple workouts a day I have to decide whether I’m going to be comfortable with the workout, or if I’m willing to risk discomfort on a major scale on the chance that I could succeed in a big way.
With clients we face the same challenges. As a coach it’s my job to figure out what they’re comfortable doing and what I can do to challenge their very being and elicit a decision that makes them uncomfortable. Whether or not they step through that door is a day to day decision for them as well.
The weight behind taking action often falls silent though when confronted with non-life threatening actions like workouts. It seems that as humans we easily get lost in day to day monotony, the “little” things if you will. Is it really going to be that big a deal if i don’t take a risk today? Probably not. The question remains though, does that become your autopilot response to every question? If so, we’re not just talking one decision at a time, we’re aggregating all those decisions and weighting them over a lifetime.
It starts when we’re young and we realize not everything goes our way. We learn that life isn’t necessarily fair and sometimes we get the short end of the stick. It’s understandable then that we as people would start to develop an aversion to the negative. That when an opportunity to fail presents itself we quietly tap our pocket of comfort by not taking the potential step and all feels better.
The problem with doing this is over time, those pocket taps start to become the definition of your life. The pain never prevails, the road most traveled become more heavily rutted, and things run smoothly.
Let’s talk about the alternative though. The road LESS traveled. Let’s find out how we can make those decisions. Because if you understand the weight of a lifetime of safe decisions, a lifetime of challenging yourself will become that much greater.
- Start small
- If you quit your job, pack your bag, and hitch your thumb for destination unknown, you may recoil quickly when it all sets in. Instead, take a decision you’re faced with on a regular basis and ask yourself why you do what you do. If you normally stop with 5 seconds left in a workout, try going 5 seconds past the finish line. It’s a small decision that will have a listing impact on your training.
- Have faith in yourself. The greatest barrier to taking risks is self confidence. Once you trust in yourself and believe that you have the ability to succeed you’ll be much more likely to try something that may be challenging. Often the mind is the only thing standing in the way of where you are now, and success in the future.
- If you start, don’t second guess yourself. Continue on. Whether you get exactly what you were going for or end up with a different outcome than you were expecting, the greatest achievements happen because of perseverance and execution.
- Failure can be the greatest teaching tool you never knew about. Because the outcome was different than what you may have had in mind, the knowledge you gain will be greater than you could have imagined. Some of my biggest successes have happened because I failed enough to find the secret to that puzzle.
- Once you try it, become addicted. As your life rolls on, it will be the collection of choices you have made that move you to a place of success. You’ll find that your world can become wider and brighter when you realize that many of the things you experience from day to day are within your power to change.
It’s for many of these reasons that as a coach I take great pride in my clients when I ask them to do more than they may think they’re capable of. When they succeed it’s a celebration of more than just fitness. It’s often that they’ve blown through a mental wall they never knew was there and they’re slowly reshaping their lives just the way they want.
Take some risks, resist the urge to tap that pocket, and enjoy the ride. Small steps equal giant distances covered when you put them together. And keep this favorite quote in mind; “Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anybody else.”