Are you choosing comfort or courage?

Nancie A. Vito, MPH, CHES

The best way out is through. ~ Robert Frost

As you may know, I help people with transformations. People who may feel stuck and want to move beyond point A, beyond spinning their wheels. It's fun! That said, oftentimes transformation and growth are NOT about feeling comfortable.

If you think about the major points in your life where you grew and learned many lessons, my bet is that they were not necessarily the pretty, peaceful times:  they were most likely the ones that were challenging for you. 

For me, the times in my life I can I remember learning and growing the most are those times that were also a bit challenging for one reason or another. Perhaps I was about to do something I had never done before. Or simply, perhaps I was at one of those general turning points where I chose the path that seemed super scary instead of the one that seemed only comfortable.

So yes. The truth is that growth is not always painless. Transformation is not necessarily easy and it’s not about feeling comfortable. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I believe that the more we get out of our comfort zones the more we're going to grow.

One time a client asked me if he should work on becoming more comfortable before taking steps in his life, as in waiting to “get out there” until he felt more comfortable. Great question. While there are things that can be done to cope with anxieties and addressing fears, working with me is not about doing things that are comfortable. It’s actually more about doing things that are uncomfortable. It's about not waiting, because we get more comfortable when we do take the action.

The truth is that the clients who quit when things get uncomfortable do not have as great results as the ones who do the work that may not be “fun.” They’re not the ones who skip the assignments that may require some reflection. The clients who succeed and SOAR are the ones willing to get their hands dirty and do the work.

You see, if we stay comfortable, we stay where we are. If where you are is what you want, that’s totally fine of course!  If not, staying in our comfortable routines can keep us small. Most people who come to me want to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be in life. They want to take steps towards their ultimate, ideal lives instead of thinking about it as “one day.”

If we continue to grow with a goal to live a fulfilled life, we may never feel 100% comfortable. The point is continue to take steps forward in spite of feeling scared. To get comfortable with being uncomfortable, as a certain level of uncertainty in your life is a good thing.

Now there is a difference between something that just doesn’t feel right, and something that you are resisting because you are scared. That is for you to determine.

This of course is not a new concept.  Oprah has said that your power comes from the strength gained over and over again from the challenging times. Angela Davis, fitness expert, has said “What doesn’t challenge you does not change you.” Iyanla Vanzant has said, “In order to birth something, you have to be willing to go through the labor pains." And even Elizabeth Gilbert has recounted the painful times of her divorce before launching her year-long quest.

The things we resist because we’re scared are the same things we need to do in order to get the life we want. If you think about your greatest dreams you have for yourself, my guess is that the one thing you don’t want to do is the one thing that will get you closer to that dream. I’ve seen it over and over. Whether it is public speaking, becoming more "visible," quitting a job or letting go of a relationship.

So how to do this?

Simply put: It takes courage. Simple, yes. Easy? Not necessarily. Continue to take steps forward no matter what. Be mindful of when the fearful part of you makes the decisions. Get an accountability partner or a professional coach to help you. You have to be vulnerable and trust yourself to know that you will be ok. The universe has your back, especially when you take action in order to design a life you truly love. And know that in the bigger picture, all is well and will be well.

So what do you say?  I say let’s choose courage together.