One of the greatest things that holds us back from making a resounding change in our lives is the fear of failure. Failure can be hard to face, even when you have an intellectual knowledge that failure is just experience.
The amazing thing is that we are also afraid of succeeding. Success means things will change. Change takes us out of our comfort zone. Things are going to be different, and different is scary. Change threatens our sense of Safety and Security.
But isn’t the whole point of change for things to be different?
If you’re trying to change, then you’re not satisfied with the status quo. You want things to be different, but you’re not going to change until the status quo is more uncomfortable than changing your life.
So make yourself uncomfortable.
A legendary military strategy through the ages—Alexander the Great, Hernán Cortés, Tariq ibn Ziyad, and others, I’m sure—was for the leader of an invading force to burn the boats upon arrival.
Getting rid of the status quo entirely is a bold way to commit to a change. The safety, security, and comfort of the ships they arrived on were gone. This made the possibility of retreat impossible, focusing their soldiers on moving forward to victory.
The simple act of making your bed in the morning can help you break out of the status quo:
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
Admiral William H. McRaven, U. S. Navy, retired
Not only do you take that first step of the day—and getting out of bed can be a tough step some days—but making your bed also burns the boat behind you. You’re much less likely to back to bed if it means undoing that accomplishment.
Need more discomfort? Tell people about your desire to change. Not everyone, as studies have shown that people who tell everyone their goals put in less effort and give up sooner than those that keep their mouths shut. But change is a journey more easily taken with someone. Tell carefully chosen people who will support you, encourage you, and hold you accountable for the change.
The bad news is you’re leaving your comfort zone. The good news is your comfort zone will go with you.
Like the simplicity on the far side of complexity, the comfort on the far side of discomfort is the one to fight for. Don’t give up that long-term comfort by clinging to the short-term comfort of the status quo. Make yourself uncomfortable and go build a better status quo.