Avoiding discomfort used to be my go-to move in life and business. It was an unconscious decision, and it made everything harder than it had to be.
I was super busy learning, surfing, scrolling, liking, lurking, analyzing, and doing a wide assortment of business-y things. But I never got the results I wanted—until I moved out of my comfort zone.
A friend asked me to speak at a digital marketing conference. Anxiety pumped through my body, and I found myself gasping out some words in response. I don’t remember what I said BECAUSE MY BRAIN AND BODY WERE ON FIRE. 🥵
The thought of public speaking, or even asking a question in a group setting, restricted my breathing and made my heart race. My face would flush, and I spoke in squeaks like some weird morse code.
Public speaking was a boundary I needed to push. And after a few miserable days with my pros and cons list, I accepted the invitation.
I planned my presentation and practiced it a kajillion times. But even then, I was in fight or flight mode every time I thought about giving it at the conference. I didn’t sleep, couldn’t breathe, and my inner critic was having the time of her life. And this went on for several months.
The day of the event, half an hour before my session, I was in the bathroom with my head between my knees trying to calm down. I even considered leaving. (How bad would that be? I mean, they wouldn’t be mad at me forever, right?)
But I didn’t.
I gave my presentation. And I sounded like a regular human—not some wheezy cartoon character. But the strangest thing was realizing that I wanted to do it again. Only better.
Today, I teach continuing education classes for Realtors and embrace discomfort on the regular in my marketing. And it is transforming my business and life.
In this post, I want to explore the space between where you are now and where you want to be.
Let's dive in, shall we?
Changing your life requires changing things in your life. If you've ever lost weight, ran a marathon, or executed a handstand in your yoga practice, you've experienced discomfort. Because change isn't comfortable. Or quick.
I'm not talking about pain. Discomfort is merely an unpleasant experience. Here's how it shakes out using the examples above:
I'm also not talking about beating yourself up. Embracing discomfort is more about accepting where you are and acknowledging your capacity to create change by practicing something new.
Brooke Castillo offers a fantastic podcast episode on two types of discomfort: discomfort that serves you and discomfort that does not serve you. It's worth a listen if you struggle with managing your thoughts and emotions. I do, and her podcast has helped me tremendously.
And finally, discomfort is not about doing more. It's about doing the right things that will make a difference. Those things are usually fewer in number, but you do them consistently.
I don't know about you, but consistency makes me uncomfortable. Regularly hitting the gym, writing blog posts, and following up with leads gets a little boring. It's also a bit scary because there's no guarantee of success.
Avoiding discomfort is all about swapping long-term gains for short-term payoffs. But here's the thing: avoiding discomfort now only increases discomfort later.
Here are two examples from my own life where I avoided short-term discomfort only to magnify it long-term.
I avoided the truth about a long-term relationship (it wasn't healthy and needed to end), and I swapped my workouts with happy hours 🥃🍕to make the situation tolerable. In my effort to avoid discomfort, I gained 20 pounds. And that only made me more uncomfortable when the relationship ended.
There was also a time when I decided to stop marketing my business 😲😲😲because I didn't feel comfortable putting myself out there. I was afraid of criticism and rejection and opted to stay busy but do nothing that actually moved my business forward. I avoided discomfort in the short-term, but the long-term effects were even worse. My pipeline dried up, and my income took a massive hit.
What are you avoiding because it's uncomfortable?
Embracing discomfort is all about replacing instant gratification with long-term satisfaction.
One of my 2019 goals is writing a blog post every week. So friggin uncomfortable! I experience equal amounts of fear (what if this doesn't resonate?) and boredom (it's time to do this again, already? ugh). But I also see that my traffic is growing and people are reading my posts (average time on page is 4.5 minutes)—and that's incredibly satisfying.
By writing consistently, I've learned a few things about discomfort:
What must you do to move from where you are now to where you want to be? (Hint: it's probably something unpleasant.)
If your business isn't where you want it to be, I challenge you to examine the space between where you are now and where you want to be.
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