Is your present situation not cutting it? Have you decided to make a change? Do you want a different level of success? Has your definition of success changed?
Embracing change goes beyond the “decision” to change. You must experience a change inside yourself — a shift in your thinking, in your wants, and in your willingness to be uncomfortable as you learn or try on something new. Change happens from the inside out. Change requires you to step outside the box of your comfort zone, take risks, and lean in to the discomfort.
How do you stay uncomfortable? Here are five ways. Consider doing more than one (or all) to increase your odds of success.
1. Find your “why.” Your why is more than a “wish” or strong want. It’s conviction. You may have to dig deep to find it.
I attended a seminar years ago where the facilitator asked us to set a sales goal for the next quarter. I wrote my goal on my paper, like a dutiful student. He asked me to share my goal, and then asked, “why is getting this goal important to you?” I responded with something like, “so I can achieve my sales goal for the year.” He asked, “why is it important that you are successful?” I gave him more lame answers; he probed further. Then it hit me. I looked up at him, a lump in my throat, unable to speak, anxious & shaken. My “why” was racing through me. The facilitator smiled with a sense of knowing, looked into my eyes, and said, “that’s it. That’s your why.”
You may know someone who has known his or her “why.” This person has gone out and achieved a goal with persistence and consistent effort, moving ahead with or without help or support from friends & family. I bet that if you look back over your life, you can find a time when you had that same kind of conviction — when nothing and no-one could stand in your way for long. When the “why” is big enough, the “how” will happen.
2. Use your strengths. Use your strengths to help you win the fight against your excuses and any negative self-talk. When you hear yourself making an excuse, out loud or in your head, fight it off by remembering your strengths.
And “I Am” list can help. Imagine you are peering through a window, looking at yourself from the outside in. What do you see? What strengths do you have? In what ways do you stand out? Make a list from what you see. Start each statement with “I am” — as in, “I am creative” or “I am kind.” See if you can come up with at least fifty (50).
If a particular excuse captures your attention more than others, write an affirmation about the strengths you have that contradict the excuse. For example, if your excuse is you have difficulty meeting new people, but you list “friendly, generous and positive” as strengths, an affirmation like, “I am a friendly, generous, and positive person and people enjoy knowing me” is helpful. Affirmations should always be positive and in present tense. Keep affirmations visible & handy — posted on a wall, on your computer as a screen saver, or on a card in your pocket or wallet. You never know when an excuse or other comfortable distraction will come into play.
3. Accept Temporary Setbacks. Success lives next door to failure. The most successful people have high failure rates. They have high failure rates because they are out there doing the work, taking chances and risks, knowing that the next big success is around the corner. They behave as if they have no fear. Everyone has fear, but successful people also have courage and faith. Courage is accepting fear as part of your life. Faith is not letting fear rule your life.
The doers in this world are the believers. They believe in their goals. They concentrate on their aim long enough to get it. Most failure is temporary defeat, not permanent failure. Recognize temporary setbacks, do what’s needed to recover, then stage a comeback and get back on track.
4. Cheat! Get Help. From a young age we learn — and then we demand — to do tasks ourselves, and over time, we start to resist asking for help.
But being the best at something is rarely a purely individual effort. Professional athletes have more than one specialized coaches. Actors thank co-stars, directors and agents for helping them bring out their best performance. Your local gym offers orientation & personal training services to help you get the most out of your workouts. My personal trainer has a personal trainer; my coach has a coach.
A coach can help you stay focused, prepare for challenges, practice new skills, develop courage, keep the faith, push through fear, recover from setbacks, celebrate wins, challenge self-imposed limitations, reach higher, attempt more and stay motivated. You can trust your coach not to be a dream stealer. They are there to help, guide, and support you and the achievement of your goals.
5. Control Your Environment. You don’t have control over everything, but you do have control over your immediate environment. Your environment triggers your habits. Everything you see, hear, smell, touch and experience influences your thoughts, and thus, your behaviors. For this reason, controlling your environment as much as possible is important.
What do you see and hear every day? Pay attention and make conscious choices. For example, it can be helpful to stay up on current events, but if you struggle to stay positive, the “news” can take the wind right out of your sails. Or if your news comes from a sole source, you miss out on diverse perspectives. Choose the best way for you to get the information you want and need without sabotaging your goals.
Seek the company of people who are like-minded or possibly those who are differently-minded, depending on the change you seek. These may or may not be people you already know. You may need to go find these people and build relationships with them.
Bottom line: to stay uncomfortable, you have to do what others won’t — what others find too hard, too embarrassing, or too far outside their comfort zone. Fall in love with being uncomfortable. The change you seek is just outside your comfort zone; you’ve got to get uncomfortable to win.