Who doesn’t love being comfortable? Hopping on the couch and turning on Netflix, is probably one of my favorite things to do. The pursuit of living comfortable lives drives most of our career and family decisions and we all can benefit from relaxation. But comfort, or at least making comfort and being comfortable our chief aim, can be detrimental. Like a slow-acting poison, if left unchecked, it can cripple your ability to pursue your passions and get in the way of good decision-making.
I live in Colorado and our weather can be very unpredictable. A few weeks back, as I was driving home from work, a cold front was moving in and brought with it freezing rain. I really didn’t want to turn the heat up on the defroster because I was bundled up and preferred that it didn’t feel like I was driving a sauna on wheels. Instead I chose to keep my windshield wipers working feverishly. After a few minutes, my windshield was becoming more and more obscured and I had to say goodbye to being comfortable so I wouldn’t die in a fiery car crash.
This perfectly normal, everyday experience actually led me to a somewhat profound conclusion; making the right decision often requires accepting some level of discomfort. While I was fixated on being comfortable, the only solution that made sense was the ineffective use of my wiper-blades. No matter how fast they moved, they couldn’t keep the ice at bay, and for a few moments, I felt like there wasn’t another solution.
While the idea of being comfortable sat on the throne of my decision making, I was temporarily paralyzed. This realization happened in a split second, but it made me think, “What other areas of my life had I abdicated control to the allure of living comfortably?” As I kept driving, a little warmer than I wanted to be but finally with a perfectly clear windshield, I started thinking about the territories in my life that comfort was threatening to overcome. I quickly realized that over-prioritizing comfort was negatively impacting some of my parenting, professional development, hobbies, chores, and relationships.
Whether we admit it or not, comfort keeps us on the couch when we could be running. Comfort keeps us scrolling through our phones when we could have been reading. Now I’m not saying that being comfortable is wrong (all things in moderation right?), but I am saying that if you only ever make decisions with comfort as your chief aim, then you’ll probably experience life at half (or a lot less) of what it could be. The problem is when we spend too much time protecting our comfort.
Making lasting change in your life will be uncomfortable. In fact, all good things in life come with challenges. The dream job you finally landed will have its fair share of frustrations. Your soulmate won’t always understand you. The beauty and joy of a newborn child will also bring sleep deprivation and poopy diapers. The best things in life require effort and so will making positive change.
I would venture to guess that most of us (if not all of us) have areas in our lives that we want to change or improve. And since you’re human, I bet comfort gets the better of you from time to time. Comfort gets the better of me more than I care to admit (does this count as admitting it?). But if you recognize the issue, you can start to change your response.
So, if you aren’t satisfied with some area of your life, or you’re not reaching your goals, I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions. First, “Am I unsatisfied with ______ because I’m prioritizing comfort over taking action? If the answer is yes, then ask, “What realistic step can I take today that will move me in the right direction?”. You might find that you couldn’t imagine a different way of approaching the problem all because you were too focused on being comfortable. Making progress and good decisions will bring with it discomfort, but it’s through discomfort that exponential growth occurs!