Are there things that you want to do but you fail to get yourself doing them?
Perhaps they are old habits you’re “trying” to change?
Or you have actions you’ve decided to take, yet you fail to get yourself consistently taking them?
Maybe you give it your best shot for a while and then it’s hard to keep it up?
Perhaps you find yourself resisting these actions?
Or even avoiding them altogether?
What to do?
This is the topic I was writing about here on MORFOCUS.
See, the bigger challenge for me and most my clients is different to this thing we typically call focus.
It’s beyond the obvious things such as prioritizing, organizing, shutting off distractions, etc.
Because it comes back to the emotional thing—
Sometimes just thinking about your goals can feel uncomfortable.
Taking your best actions can be uncomfortable.
Even when you “want” to do them or have “decided” they matter it can still be hard to get yourself focused on what is uncomfortable to do.
As I wrote about here, the hard thing about doing hard things can be knowing what to do.
If you have an action that you are CERTAIN will drive the results you want, it’s generally easier to get yourself doing it, isn’t it?
But what about when there’s ENORMOUS uncertainty?
Meaning, you think the action may drive the results you want, but you cannot know.
Maybe it’s a lack of believing.
Or, even, you have no clue what will drive the results you want.
Here you have brain-freezing uncertainty about the action itself, let alone achieving your desired results.
A hard thing can be breaking through this uncertainty to even know what to do.
Even harder can be getting yourself consistently, repeatedly, over and over again taking your best action.
Much of my life is lived in the discomfort zone.
By definition that’s NOT because discomfort is comfortable for me, but because our mission demands I push boundaries.
It’s like when I used to train MMA.
There was a phase of my life where doing this every day was what I wanted.
But there was still plenty of moments, minutes, hours training that your brain would prefer to avoid.
It feels uncomfortable.
It is uncomfortable.
To the point where if you didn’t have a trainer or someone punching and kicking in front of you, it would be far more comfortable to stop.
That’s life in your discomfort zone.
Just because you’ve decided to do something doesn’t mean that you want to do every part of it, or that all or even any part of it will feel comfortable.
That’s why here in this discomfort zone is ALL your growth.
Unfortunately, growth doesn’t always come easily.
And in fact it can feel extremely hard some of the time, can’t it?
As a client recently said, “Just watch your kids grow teeth.”
Or even feel the pain of watching them learning to ride a bike and keep falling off, when you just want them to be happily riding around.
We all know it, of course.
Growing can feel difficult.
It’s like stretching your legs beyond that old limit.
Or lifting weights, forging your body against resistance.
Or setting goals that are WAY out of reach.
Even if you want so much to stretch your potential, this can feel devastatingly uncomfortable.
Elon Musk calls this eating glass, which as he points out in striving for extreme goals, for years, maybe decades, you might have to do.
Retired SEAL Goggins refers to building a calloused mind, as I wrote about here.
To keep growing and expanding your comfort zone, sometimes you must “simply” keep pushing and hardening up.
You can see on the chart at the top of this page my beautiful depiction of a discomfort zone.
No way I’m getting a gold star for my art but you see this is a way to keep EXPANDING your comfort zone more comfortably.
Meaning, you can see the border of your comfort zone is solid.
Everything inside here feels comfortable.
And even just looking at this chart can give you an appreciation for all the things that are now comfortable for you.
You’re reminded that your entire life you’ve kept expanding your comfort zone.
Then you see the discomfort zone is just a series of tiny dots.
So it’s rarely like you have to pick up this entire boundary and “push, push, push.”
Or like a marathon runner hitting the wall that you’ve ‘just gotta push through.’
Like stretching those legs you’re only reaching a little further each time.
Just one tiny dot at a time expanding your comfort zone.
“Will and skill”
“Vigor and rigor.”
These are two phrases I often use that depict driving further into your discomfort zone.
A reason I use these is because I’ve found that motivation is RARELY enough.
“Wanting” is rarely enough.
Even the deepest burning desire is rarely enough.
When you reach the limit of your comfort zone, even if you really, really, really want to keep driving, it can be FAR easier to stay stuck or recede back.
And continuing to forge forward expanding your comfort zone can demand will and skill.
I typically avoid saying “forcing” yourself to do it.
But, if nothing else is working.
And it really, truly matters that you keep yourself moving and growing.
Well, this can be your final doorway.
As is having someone else force you to do it by holding you accountable.
Yet you typically find that just getting yourself started can do something magical.
Push start to flow
If you’ve ever trained kids.
Or yourself to keep doing things that are hard and uncomfortable, you know this strange, common thing.
At first it can feel extremely hard to get started.
But once you’re moving you can find it’s so natural to just keep going.
This is one of the elements of the elusive peak state for happiness and performance, the flow state.
Ironically, a requirement for reaching flow is that the action MUST be hard.
So it can demand some “push” to get yourself started.
But from here you can quickly, easily, joyfully, find yourself “effortlessly flowing.”
This is the reason in my system for Ultimate Days I most often set a timer for 33 minutes to get absorbed in an action and keep flowing until it goes off.
It’s an example of a process-based “push start.”
Outcome-based goals and deadlines can “push” or ideally “pull” you the same way.
But you see the point I’m making here is that sometimes just the gentlest push can launch you QUICKLY into peak flowing.
Progressing to comfort
Neuroscience tells you that the human brain wants two things.
It seeks novelty.
This means that it wants to do things outside of your comfort zone.
It wants new experiences, even if there’s some fear and resisting in these things.
The second thing that your brain seeks is to automate actions as quickly as possible.
Meaning, once you’ve got yourself moving.
Or started a new habit.
Or you have a new way of thinking and being, for instance.
Well, now your brain wants to make this automatic, effortless.
This natural process you’ve been through many times before.
Just one step at a time your brain naturally integrates things that used to feel uncomfortable into your comfort zone.
And growing is just one thing you find here.