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David Goggins and How to Get Out of your Comfort Zone

I wouldn't normally quote David Goggins, but I found myself drawn to his words when it comes to discomfort and suffering.


"Our whole life is set up in the path of least resistance. We don't want to suffer. We don't want to feel discomfort. So the whole time, we're living our lives in a very comfortable area. There's no growth in that."

I have a ton of respect for this man, but I disagree with a lot of his philosophy. If you don't know who he is, I suggest you google him and I do highly recommend his book, Never Finished (I haven't read the others). 


His motto is "stay hard" and my motto is "be gentle with yourself."   That's the most simplified version of why I usually disagree with him.  😆


But we are not here to talk about David Goggins, we are here to talk about discomfort and the idea of getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.



 

Let’s talk about the thing that no one wants to discuss- feeling uncomfortable. People will go to great lengths to avoid discomfort or making anyone else feel uncomfortable (hello people pleasers, I see you). 

 

That's why I picked the quote above because I think he is right about the fact that we don't want to feel discomfort; we don't want to suffer. And we avoid growth because of it.

But why is that?


Why do we try to avoid something so… unavoidable?


I was talking to my mom about this the other day- it's actually what inspired me to write about this topic to my email list, and in the blog.


I was telling her about some frustrations I've been having in my life and she eventually said something to me that has been bothering her for a few months. When she said it, I was pretty heated, and I raised my voice and spouted off some of my beliefs and opinions. My mom then told me "This is why it took me so long to speak up to you, because it's uncomfortable when you react like that."


So I took a breath and calmed my tone (been working on that one for a while), but I said to her "So what? Why do people avoid discomfort?" I have emotions, I am a human after all, and I have done a lot of work on myself to be able to express those emotions. Are they always pleasant? No, absolutely not.


We are not here to only experience positivities, we are here to experience the full range of life- which includes negatives. I wasn't upset with my mom for what she brought up; I was actually in agreeance with what she said to me- but I still had emotions about it.


So we continued our conversation and I explained to her why I don't think people should avoid discomfort as much as they do.


First of all, if you are growing and learning and participating in the world, then at some point you are going to feel uncomfortable. And that’s ok.


One of the four noble truths of Buddhism is that life is suffering. It isn't something that we can avoid, no matter how hard we try. Even though it took my mom months to bring up the thing she wanted to say- she still wasn't avoiding discomfort by holding it in. She was experiencing a different type of discomfort. It felt more familiar and safer than what she imagined would happen when she brought the topic up to me.


A lot of us have this deep limiting belief that feeling uncomfortable will destroy us.


But it’s more along the lines of what our brains perceive as a threat.  I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you 1000 more times that our brains are primed and programmed to prefer the familiar.


So even if you hate where you are in life, you feel exhausted and in pain all the time (none of which is comfortable, btw), it's still SAFE and FAMILIAR compared to taking action to make a change. 

(Que the overthinking) Because if you do take action, what if it's the wrong action? What if you make things worse for yourself?


Or worse yet, what if you make things better? Then what? What do you do when you get everything that you’ve ever wanted?


We jump to these two extreme conclusions, not taking a moment to step back and realize that neither is very likely... 


But that’s how anxiety works- it holds on to the least likely scenario and tries to find a solution. Because then it feels like you’re doing work and making progress, but you are keeping yourself still and stuck. You don’t have to do anything to feel like you’re doing something. 


So, this is what my mom did, and what I'm sure you do in your own life. She chose the version of discomfort that felt safer (not saying anything to me) until she eventually got the courage to choose the unfamiliar version of discomfort. Which helped move her through all of the uncomfortable feelings because now, she isn't experiencing either. Choosing the unfamiliar version of discomfort allowed her to feel comfortable again.


And that's the David Goggins solution for you too: Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. 


Think about the last thing you accomplished. It could be a big thing or a little thing. Whatever it was, did you feel comfortable right at the start of it? Probably not!


But that thing, that goal became more important than the feeling of safety and familiarity that your brain needs. And then as you started working on the thing- you got more comfortable. It got more familiar. 


You pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone to become someone better than you were before. 


That’s it; that's all there is to it. And there are an infinite number of ways to get out of your comfort zone. 


How to get out of your comfort zone


  • Go to a new fitness class. Try yoga or pilates, cardio dance, or something else entirely- just get yourself out of your comfort zone.

  • Train for a 5k,10k, or 50k race- something you’ve never done before. Push yourself. 

  • Challenge yourself to sit in meditation for 3 minutes longer than what feels comfortable. If you use guided meditations, continue to sit in silence after the audio finishes. 

  • Pick a recipe to cook that uses ingredients you’ve never heard of- go to the specialty grocery store that you’ve never been to and try and find those rare ingredients. Learn to cook something new. 

  • Say the thing that you’ve been avoiding saying to your friend/partner/mom/boss.

  • Take a cold shower or cold plunge.

  • Join a club like Toastmasters or something that will encourage you to do more public speaking.

  • Go to therapy or get a coach.

  • Join a book club... it just so happens that I host a book club focused on self-mastery. 😉

  • Learn a new language... or better yet, travel to a country where you don't speak the language.

  • Introduce yourself to the cute person in line at the coffee shop.


All of these activities will take you out of your comfort zone, which will improve your discomfort muscles. The same skill of tolerance can be translated across all aspects of your life.


That's where a lot of people mess up. They think that if they are a good ultra runner, then they are good at getting physically uncomfortable and pushing themselves to run long distances, but they still can't handle feeling emotional discomfort and having hard conversations.


Yes, it's a different sensation associated with getting out of their comfort zone, but the skill is the same. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is the same no matter what activity you are doing.


It requires trusting yourself, and knowing that you have the capability and strength to grow. It means that you have to dig deep sometimes, remind yourself of your goals, and focus on exactly what you want for yourself.


Getting outside of your comfort zone is how you grow and evolve into a better version of yourself. Getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable is what sets successful people apart from unsuccessful people. 


Because if you are showing up and participating in your life, I promise you that you will get uncomfortable some of the time. And that’s ok. 


Discomfort doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Discomfort means that you’re probably doing it right. 

Because like David Goggins said above, there's no growth in the avoidance.


Need some more inspiration? (Because who doesn't have a whole Pinterest board of inspirational quotes?)


Here are some quotes to motivate you to get out of your comfort zone:


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

  2. “A comfort zone is a beautiful place – but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown

  3. “Don’t confuse comfort with happiness.” – Dean Karnazes

  4. “Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Jack Canfield


 

And hey, if you want support and guidance in getting outside of your comfort zone, you should join my 1:1 coaching program! It’s in the beta stages right now, which means that you can get intimate and personalized support from me for a heavily discounted rate!


It’s a 6-month container, and each month corresponds to an aspect of your deep health. I wrote about this last week or you can read more on this blog post. We’ll dive deep into your social relationships, physical health, mental health, emotional health, environment, and existential health. 


Since I’m in the developing stages, I want to invite my beta testers to work with me at half off, for a total of $597 per month. You get 3 live sessions per month, with a strategy for improving each aspect of your deep health. It’s the framework that you need for a total lifestyle overhaul.


Yeah, it will be uncomfortable sometimes. But it will also get you started on the path toward your greatest life, being your best self. 


This offer is only good until March 31, 2024. If you're reading this before that date, send me an email and let me know you're interested!


 

the author smiling at the camera, sitting with her legs crossed in a white tee. She is a self mastery and mindset coach for high achievers.

Kaylin is a Self-Mastery and Mindset Coach located in Orange County, California. 

Her focus is teaching high achievers how to recover from burnout so they can enjoy their lives again. 


You can learn more about Kaylin here, or schedule a consultation to work with her here.








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Excellent article, Kaylin. I enjoy David Goggins and listen to him often. I loved how you juxtapositioned your philosophies against his. It makes sense. Where David's words help me the most is in the gym. About the time I'm ready to say "I cannot do another one" I hear him say "that's only 40% of what you got. You can do more." And I can. But for other parts of life, his motto of "stay hard" just doesn't fit. Love your list of how to get out of your comfort zone. Great suggestions

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