In my two previous blogs (part 1 and part 2), I talked about cultivating good habits and adopting an attitude of gratitude in order to Be Good and Get Better. The last of my three keys to success in 2018 is going to sound illogical and contradictory, but I’m challenging you to get uncomfortable. As in, comfort zone … what comfort zone?

I know this idea—of making yourself uncomfortable—is counter-intuitive. The more common advice is to avoid situations that make you uncomfortable. I believe we are wired to want to stay in our comfort zone (and not take others out of theirs), but I truly believe that the times I’ve been most uncomfortable are the times I’ve grown and changed for the better. I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Alrik Koudenburg’s motivational quote, “To be outstanding, get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” has been put on everything from posters to potholders.

Brené Brown in her book Braving the Wilderness, calls it “Courage over comfort.” She says you can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.

Have Courage

We’re not talking pain here—just making yourself uncomfortable in order to push your limits. Make an effort to learn new things. Do something you don’t particularly enjoy or that you are not good at—yet! You might surprise yourself with what you are able to do over time! Write a blog. Speak in public. Become an expert and a “thought leader” in your industry.

If you are in leadership, lead more. Give regular feedback—no matter how uncomfortable it might be. Communicate. Teach. Counsel. Go see customers. Visit remote / branch offices.

Be bolder—not in a braggadocios way, but in an authentically helpful way—by offering more insights and ideas at work. Concentrate on getting better at your craft every day. I’m almost certain you will need to step outside your comfort zone to do that, but you can do it! I strongly encourage you to try. I’m convinced that the more often you get uncomfortable, the more progress you’ll make.  Thomas Jefferson said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

Now all this is entirely up to you. No one else can really push you to extend and surpass your limits, because no one else knows them like you do! You’re going to have to push yourself, and that’s not easy. Once more, an accountability partner can be especially helpful with keeping you on track to making yourself uncomfortable and achieving hard things.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Nicholas Murray Butler said, “People are divided into three groups: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and then those who wonder what happened.”   Make yourself uncomfortable in some way every day, and you’ll be someone who makes things happen. Believe me, that’s how you do what you do better.

How do you plan to get uncomfortable this year? What new skills or endeavors will you try?