Comfort Doesn't Change YouSep 13, 2022
“Discomfort is the currency of your dreams.”
According to Google, comfort is a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. Just reading that makes me feel more relaxed. Comfort is quiet, warm, and cozy. It is security and the sense that everything is OK. I spent most of my life seeking comfort and actively avoiding discomfort. I told myself a story that I don’t handle change well and that nothing good comes from change.
When I found physician coaching, I heard the saying: “Discomfort is the currency of your dreams.” I immediately balked at the ridiculous thought. Fortunately, coaching trains us to examine our thoughts. Could it really be true that discomfort is the currency of my dreams?
One of my earliest dreams was to attend a prestigious college. I excelled in school and wanted to be a doctor. I believed attending a prestigious college was the key to my eventual success. Despite numerous people telling me I should focus my sights on a less competitive school, I was accepted early decision to my dream school. When I arrived, I was surrounded by top students from around the country. That first semester was a great struggle. Looking back, I’m still not sure how I persevered. There were many moments when I thought I wasn’t cut out for the academic rigor, which was highly uncomfortable. But less than six months later, I fell into a rhythm. The discomfort of that first semester taught me that I could do hard things. My motivation and drive could take me far, so long as I never gave up.
As I examined my past experiences, I found the tremendous benefits of leaning into discomfort everywhere I looked.
- Pushing through the exhaustion of my post-call state to make the first phone call to the woman that would one day agree to be my wife.
- Moving 1000 miles away from my family and friends for my medical training, where I would subsequently meet some of the closest friends I had ever known.
- Publishing my writing online and receiving accolades from friends and strangers alike.
- Creating a physician coaching business and meeting so many incredible people who see more potential in me than I ever could.
None of these things came easily to me. But when I leaned into the discomfort, my life changed forever. Each small, uncomfortable moment led to a personal transformation that allowed me to see myself in a slightly new way.
So, why is discomfort so important? It turns out that we rise to the highest level of our comfort. When things start feeling uncomfortable, our brains tell us that something has gone wrong and we need to stop because something terrible might happen.
Comfort feels fantastic, but there is a cost to comfort. Comfort is not motivating and does not push us to try new things, accomplish challenging tasks, or set impossible goals. In comfort, there is warm and fuzzy complacency. Discomfort, however, pushes us to grow, change, and evolve. When we lean into discomfort, we push the boundaries of who we think we are and what we believe we can achieve. And on the other side of that discomfort is a person that did not previously exist—a human with new experiences that will drive them to new heights.
If discomfort is so incredible, why don’t we seek it out? The answer is simple: Discomfort doesn’t feel very good. At best, discomfort is uncomfortable, but at worst, discomfort is miserable. But just like with exercise, no pain, no gain. Rather than focus on the negative aspects of discomfort, we must remember that discomfort is the feeling that encourages us to explore uncharted territory and grow into the next version of ourselves. And on the other side of that discomfort are all of the things you want in your life.
Many of us would prefer to only feel “good” feelings, like happiness, comfort, and joy. But the real gifts come from leaning into “bad” feelings, like discomfort, vulnerability, and fear. Those feelings bring a greater purpose and sense of fulfillment in life. Those "bad" feelings are the feelings of growth.
Time marches on. Whether we like it or not, this moment will never exist again. As physicians, we see death more than we care to admit. And when I look back on my life, I want to know that I explored every opportunity, felt the highs, persevered through the lows, and lived every moment to the fullest. What are your goals? Where do you want to be next month? Next year? Five years from now? Will you allow yourself to dream? Will you keep thinking, researching, and practicing, or will you take that next step to turn your dreams into reality? What if you allowed discomfort, fear, and anxiety to come along for a ride on your fantastic journey? You might see that the most challenging part was getting started. And when you achieve that long-sought-after goal, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. Before you know it, you’ll push yourself back into discomfort on a mission to achieve your next impossible goal.
Where does discomfort exist in your life? Is there something you are avoiding because you think it might be uncomfortable? How would the person that has achieved your long-sought-after-goal approach that same situation? What would be the worst-case scenario if you leaned into the discomfort and tried it? How could your life change if you were willing to feel discomfort?
I want to invite you to check out my FREE TRAINING. Click here to get: How Busy Physicians Can Stop Trying To Escape Medicine And Start Living Their Best Life Today.
This training will teach you the five essential tools physicians need to stop feeling disconnected, overwhelmed, and trapped in medicine. You will also learn how to discover what you truly want in life and how to get it.
PS. I get a lot of inspiration from music lyrics. Many people use inspiring quotes (and I do, too), but music really speaks to me. I hope you find inspiration in the songs too.
Shakira - Try Everything
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