Sometimes, we’re motivated by the carrot. Sometimes, we need the stick.

We can envision a better life than what we have now. We know what we want to change. We set goals, we make plans…

…and then we sit on the couch and watch six episodes of How I Met Your Mother instead of recording videos. We super-size our combo meal instead of fixing a garden salad at home. We hit snooze (five times) instead of heading to the gym.

Instead of changing, our reality is stuck on repeat in a way only Bill Murray can appreciate.

Because our current reality isn’t that bad.

We want better, but we’re pretty comfortable. Subconsciously, we’re just not willing to put in the work to get out of our comfort zone and change our reality.

What we need to do is make the status quo a little less comfortable.

  1. Remove the comforts from your zone. If you can’t get yourself out of your comfort zone, start removing the comforts. Box up the Xbox. Cancel your Netflix subscription—or get rid of your TV entirely. You can add these back when you’ve made the change. Until then, they’re not worth it if they’re holding you back.
  2. Get an accountability partner. There are two kinds of fitness coaches: the ones who will flood you with positive encouragement to draw you out of your comfort zone and the drill instructors who will chase you out, sometimes literally. Pick someone you trust to work with you—they need to know where the edges of your comfort zone are, and that can be intimidating.
  3. Give yourself a deadline. Change is a project. Like any project, it will expand to fill the time you give it. So give yourself a deadline. Set the deadline close enough that you can feel the sense of urgency, but not so close that you panic.
  4. Put a price on it. The SnuznLuz alarm clock raises the cost of oversleeping. Every time you hit the snooze button, it makes a donation to a charity you despise. Get out of bed in the morning or your hard-earned cash goes to the other side. For a less divisive approach, take a page from Thomas Frank’s playbook. He set up an automation that sends out a tweet if he doesn’t get up at 5:55 a.m.: the first five respondents get $5.
  5. Make it more rewarding. Why not put FOMO to work for you? Make the change into a goal. When you accomplish the goal, reward yourself. Make it a celebration, something you’ll really look forward to. Feel the anticipation. You’re missing out on the reward!

There are two things you want to be careful of if you do this.

First, don’t focus entirely on the gap. That’s discouraging. Celebrate your gains, but remember you have more gains yet to make.

Second, remember you can change. You really can. It’s up to you. You’re making the status quo more painful to endure not because you want to be miserable but because you want to change. This is temporary. It’s not the new reality that you’re trying to create. Don’t accept your artificially increased level of discomfort as the new normal and adapt.

You want to change your reality for a reason. Make the change and enjoy your new reality.

Question: What makes your comfort zone too comfortable? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.