We are creatures of comfort. Why? Because we have an innate need for certainty. You see, we are hardwired to avoid the potential dangers that come from making changes.

This means that you will need to consciously step away from what feels comfortable for you to create positive changes in your life. In other words, you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”  —  Brian Tracy

Clients come to me at that point when being comfortable isn’t good enough anymore in some area(s) of their life. They want to get better results in their career or business, have even more meaning in their life, have even better relationships, even better health, and so on. And, they are willing to step away from the familiar in order to reach those new goals.

I imagine that you are taking the time to read this article because you want to live an extraordinary life- to grow and to serve in an even bigger way. If that’s the case, here’s what I want you to know and remember. The key to success is making a decision about what you want and committing to it, even when you don’t know if the decision is the right one. You see, nothing prevents you from making changes later. This is exactly what high performers do.

Even though it can be scary to give up something known for something unknown, high performers know that feeling uncomfortable is necessary for them to achieve their purposeful mission. They are not driven by what will make them comfortable. In fact, they choose to step out of their comfort zone so that they can grow, develop, and serve others in an even bigger way. They accept and honor the struggle. This mindset sets them apart from everyone else.

The reality is that most people refuse to step out of their comfortable existence until something extraordinarily good or bad happens in their life, like tragedy, health concerns, scarcity, or some other major life event. They wait to experience extreme pain or pleasure before making the decision and commitment to change their life. Why? Because it is much easier to be comfortable than to experience uncertainty. As a result, a lot of people plateau in their careers, relationships, and other parts of their lives. They guide their actions from their comfort zone- they essentially choose comfort over growth- and therefore they experience stagnation.

“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.”  —  Robin S. Sharma

Stepping out of your comfort requires you to extend your personal boundaries. What do I mean? I mean that you must create a new comfort zone. There are four steps that you must go through to do that. No matter what you are trying to achieve or learn, you will be required to move through each of the following stages in order to feel more comfortable and perform well.

Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence
Stage 3: Conscious Competence
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence

To illustrate this point, I will use the example of learning how to drive. This is particularly relevant in my life now as my middle daughter prepares to take her driving test in a couple of months.

Stage 1:  Before you ever drove a car, you did not actually know (unconscious) what it was like to drive (incompetence).

Stage 2:  When you first got into a car and attempted to drive, I imagine you quickly realized that you could not do it. In other words, you became conscious of your incompetence.

Stage 3: When you started practicing driving and maybe even took some driving lessons, you started to observe the road and learn how to drive. At first, it was not very comfortable to drive, and it required a lot of your attention and energy. However, it became more and more comfortable the more that you practiced. This is the stage of conscious competence.  You have learned the skill, but you have not yet mastered it.

Stage 4: After you drive consistently for a certain period of time, you realize that you can do it without having to concentrate too much. You can perform the skill automatically. At this point, you have become unconsciously competent.

Why is knowing these four stages of learning important for you? Because creating lasting positive changes in your life will require you to feel uncomfortable and perhaps even afraid. Otherwise, nothing has actually changed. You see, leaving your comfort zone is a good thing. Over time, with more learning and practice, it will become your new comfort zone.

Here are three simple tips to help you move along the learning process with ease in order to create an even more fulfilling life:

  1. Find meaning and purpose– The stronger your desire for change, the more that vision will compel you to move forward toward the unknown. Ask yourself questions like, “What do I love doing?” and “What will give even more meaning and purpose to my life?”
  2. Take consistent action– Make a plan. Ask yourself, “Who is successfully doing what I want to do on a consistent basis?”. Model them. Many people are searching for instant gratification. Remind yourself that lasting change takes time and effort. Manage your time. Little by little, one step at a time, it will add up and you will realize that you are consciously or even unconsciously competent.
  3. Focus, focus, focus– Believe in your ability to learn and grow. When in doubt, remind yourself that change is a process, and that it’s okay to feel confused and afraid at times. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to make mistakes. Be very kind to yourself. Ask yourself empowering questions like “How can I acknowledge myself?” and “What would it take for me to do this?”.

Make the decision and commitment to move out of your comfort zone- to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. When you do that consistently, you will grow into the best and highest version of yourself and have an even greater impact in the world. Not only will you reach your own desired destination, but you will also inspire many others to reach theirs.

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