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“I can’t today*/this week*/this month* because…”  (* delete as applicable)

We all know, at least in theory, that we can only get better, we can only make serious improvements in our lives, by coming out of our comfort zone. 

Theoretically, this gets easier with practice, and it’s about doing stuff that you’re not comfortable with – maybe even that you don’t want to do.

But your comfort zone is insidious and inexhaustible – it will hunt you, and once it’s found your weak spot, it will present the most utterly convincing arguments, and without even realising, you have fallen back into that velvet ditch. 

“I’m prioritising this instead…” 

And we all know that assertiveness is a good thing, so we know that when we tell someone else that we’re not going to do something we don’t want to do, that we are doing the right thing. But is it? Assertiveness to protect your interests is a good thing, but assertiveness to stay in your comfort zone might just be your worst enemy, and the two can be so easily confused.

We have our reasons, which others might (obviously mistakenly) call excuses, and these form the basis of our assertiveness, and lo and behold, there we are, without realising, we’re wallowing in our comfort again. And as we get older, as we get to know who we are more clearly, the “reasons” become all the more clear to us.

Maybe the place you need to be is where being right is not necessarily the best thing. Where accepting that you might be wrong, and then living with the discomfort could actually do you a lot more good.

“I’m not doing … because it’s not who I am.”

And we all have places in our lives where we think we are coming out of our comfort zones. We might make ourselves run long distances, we might hold plank position for a long time. But are these just things that we are comfortable about being uncomfortable doing? Have our challenges got stale?

It might be that the best thing we could do is change our thinking or behaviour to almost the opposite of what it is right now.

Maybe we need to start losing again, instead of winning.

“I don’t like eating that…” 

We’ve just been through a pandemic, so we deserve to be kind to ourselves. But for many of us, the strength that got us through is waning, and it can be hard to find the motivation to get out of your comfort zone.

One of the only things that we can be certain of in life is that everything will change. We need to embrace those changes in order to maximise their benefit to us. We can’t stay in our comfort zone, or we just get left behind, and then where are we, if achieving our potential is important to us?

But motivation is a comfort zone word. It has to be discipline over motivation every time. If you wait for your motivation to kick in, you’ll never get out of your comfort zone, let alone get to the top of your game. And discipline comes with practice. Remember why you’re doing it, and get off your backside!

“This is uncomfortable, or painful, (or whatever,) so I’m going to stop…”

In Kung Fu, we recognise the three battles that we are fighting are all about reaching our potential. 

We train ourselves, body, mind and spirit to take ourselves as far as we can, and because of the conflict (as all of the training is fundamentally about overcoming a real opponent) we very quickly and regularly get pushed up against ourselves, against our likes and dislikes, our fear, our anger, our coping mechanisms, and excuses.

We get to examine ourselves in all that raw, uncomfortable detail, and with a healthy dose of honesty, make changes for the better. (Because who else can change us, but ourselves?)

“I always turn up late because…”

Whenever someone asks you to do something that you’re uncomfortable with, check your response before your assertiveness kicks in. Would doing it actually be objectively good for you? (Try not to listen to your “reasons” not to.)

Challenge yourself to come out of your comfort zone. Where are you making your excuses, which have, in your mind, become reasons?

… and if you say, “It takes one to know one,” I answer, “Absolutely! Let’s do this thing together!” Let’s replace “I can’t” with “how can I?” Then success is only a few thoughts away.