Getting comfortable has proven to be the greatest threat to me in my life, my career and with my money. Each time I've started to settle into some comfortable status in my business or even my personal life, I've been spanked into reality, recognizing that it's always best to continue to push myself to new levels.
I believe that most people never get where they want to be in their life, their career and their finances because they stop at places that appear to be comfortable. I hear so many people express this idea of being comfortable in their lives by saying things like "We have enough," "I make enough to get by," "I haven't saved a lot, but I'm comfortable," or "I haven't fulfilled my dreams, but I've done better than most."
I've said each of these things in periods of my life when I was getting comfortable and trying to make sense of where I was rather than where I could go.
Don't Stop When You've Had Enough
Settling is about getting comfortable. Being satisfied is about making sense of where you are rather than your potential. I'm not sure why so many people settle, but most do. Almost everyone I've ever worked with quickly admits they're capable of doing much more. "I could do more, but I'm comfortable," I hear way too often.
It's common to be afraid to try new things, approach new people, find new customers, move to a new city for better opportunities, search for a new business opportunity or learn a new skill. But the world we live in today demands that we continue to push ourselves beyond our comfort levels. If I learned one lesson from the 2008 economic collapse, it's that no matter how much success you have, it can be taken from you sooner than you think.
The survivors in business refuse to settle for "comfortable" and are always reinventing themselves, pushing the edges, trying new things, making new investments and swinging for the fences. The survivors are always attacking the market for new clients and new territory—they're never satisfied with the status quo. These are the companies and executive teams I love working with.
Trying To Get Uncomfortable
After this last recession, I made a commitment to do everything to stay uncomfortable—yes, un-comfortable. I'm always seeking out new challenges and new problems. When I stay uncomfortable, my business grows. For instance, every week we make a list of new people we've never done business with and make contact. This is an exercise in being uncomfortable.
Last year I moved my business and my family across the country from Los Angeles to Miami Beach. I had lived in California for more than 20 years, so yes, I was comfortable and thought this move would be a great way to stretch myself and my business. This move expanded my personal life, my marriage and my company. It forced us all to make new friends and new contacts.
And not only did I move my family and make them uncomfortable, I convinced my staff to relocate with me. This bonded us in even more meaningful ways as we faced new and different challenges.
If you don't have new problems, you're getting comfortable, which can lead to boredom. New, bigger problems will keep you creating, sharp and expanding.
Take an honest look at your business, your life and your finances, and ask yourself, "Am I pushing myself to new levels every day, or am I just comfortable?" Look for areas where you've become comfortable or might be settling for less than you can really do.
If you're still not sure how to break out of your comfort zone, these four simple changes can push you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable:
1. Don't see time as an obstacle. "I don't have enough time" has to be one of the great lies people tell themselves. Every time I say, “I don't have enough time,” I add something to my calendar. Learn how to create time by forcing yourself to take on more.
2. Meet new people every day. We all have this discomfort with meeting new people. The moment I commit to introducing myself to five people I don't know, I find I become more expressive, confident and creative.
3. Write down your fears, then go confront them. I don't care what comes up on the list. Get it handled by confronting the little beast, and do what you can to get over the fear.
4. Take on a new role at your company for a few hours so you can experience what others have to do on a daily basis. You might want your employees to take on this task as well. It can be very revealing for all employees, especially executives.
The American middle class was built on the concept of creating a comfortable life. But that concept is now failing. Most Americans feel they don't have enough income, savings or time to do the things they truly want to do.
Those doing best in this country are those who refuse to settle with being comfortable. They push for freedom instead. Seek a life of freedom, not a life of comfort, and you'll see how truly far you can go.
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