The Bigger Picture: The Opposite of Comfortable

January. It’s still a new year. Full of possibility. So many plans, so many dreams.

2018 has 8,760 hours and we have only used up about 216. Yup, believe it or not, more than 200 hours have already slipped by.

8,544 hours to go.

What will you do with your year?

You could eliminate fear of rejection like Jia Jiang.

You could walk across a continent.

You could write 12 novels.

Or, you could ditch a bad habit or create a positive one. Changing a habit sounds simpler and easier than walking across the United States. But that’s not necessarily the case. If it were easy to change a habit 25% of us would not have already abandoned our new year’s resolutions. Yes, that’s right, 25% of people who make a resolution don’t even stick with it for one week!

Why is that? Are we lazy? Uncommitted? Do we not really want what we believe we want?

I don’t think so.

I see it this way: If we keep doing what we have always been doing, we will get the exact same results. So, if we want things to turn out differently, we have to change. I know, it seems obvious. Even George Costanza figured that out on the famous “Do the Opposite” episode of Seinfeld.

But think about it. If you haven’t been making progress on your novel, or your applications, your diet, your start up, your travel adventure, your relationship or your PhD…you may need to change what you have been doing.

And change is uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. It’s draining. It can generate anxiety, fear or failure. It can even be physically uncomfortable; just ask my friend who is training for an Iron Man.

Change is uncomfortable until it’s not. At some point, whatever you are working on becomes habit. Once it’s a habit, it’s a lot easier to go sugar-free, to wake up 30 minutes earlier, to fit in an hour of daily MBA application work.

But before it’s a habit, it’s not a habit. It’s a struggle and that’s uncomfortable. It’s during that uncomfortable time that our brains try to trick us. Part of the brain is literally designed to protect us from discomfort with a fight or flight type response. And, often, this brain response makes it very challenging to be effective at what we actually want to do.

That’s when the vast majority of us abandon resolutions. So how do we outsmart our own brains? Start by following your discomfort. Expect it to be hard, to feel bad, to be physically and mentally challenging.

There are all kinds of tricks to get through the hard stuff, but we need to begin by pointing ourselves in the right direction, however uncomfortable.

As you move ahead with the goal to make 2018 the year, be sure to chase feelings of discomfort. In order to change you often have to go against everything your brain is telling you. But it’s like Jerry Seinfeld said: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

By the way…if you need a little boost making changes in your life, check out my 21 Day Projects. I will send you an email every day for 21 days with concrete advice to help you move towards your particular goal, whether it is Getting More Done, or Creating An MBA Resume. Check out all the 21 Day Projects in the SBC store.

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