Comfort is the Opposite of Training

Being comfortable should be a warning sign. It’s not that being comfortable is a bad thing by itself, but if we agree that growth comes from pushing your comfort zone, then any time we’re within our comfort zone we’re not growing. Whenever you find that you’re comfortable, ask yourself what you aren’t training. The answer will vary from case to case, but the question to ask yourself is: would being comfortable or training be better for me?

I’ll give you an example. Six weeks ago I was bundled up in my jacket and hoodie, walking through Beijing. I was warm, and I was… comfortable.

The opposite of being comfortable is training. What could I be training by giving up that comfort? Well, I could be getting used to cold weather, which would mean that I could feel warm in a wider range of climates and possibly even pack less clothing. That seemed like a win, so I took off my jacket. As I walked, looking for a restaurant, I noticed that I was warm again, so I took off my hoodie.

And that’s how life’s been for the past six weeks. I remove articles of clothing until I’m wearing just pants and shirt, or until I’m slightly cold. Already, it’s working. I spent Thanksgiving in D.C. and Virginia, and even though I brought it everywhere with me, I didn’t wear it once. Most of the time I was a little bit cold, but if the wind was still enough, I could be okay even when it was forty-five degrees.

On the other hand, I found that if I was slightly cold, I had a really tough time focusing on work. So I keep myself warm when I work, and cold the rest of the time.

If your work is comfortable, you’re probably not getting better at it. If your relationship is too comfortable, you’re probably not strengthening it. If your entire daily routine is comfortable, then you’ve probably got a ton of opportunity to push yourself and grow.

When you make yourself uncomfortable, you widen your comfort zone. Soon those things you did to make yourself uncomfortable have become comfortable. Then you look beyond that newly demarcated comfort zone and push again. This is the cycle of self-improvement, and noticing when you’re comfortable is how you know that you’re ready to take the next step.

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Picture is a phoenix from Forbidden City, Beijing. Did I mention that we named our island Phoenix Island?

So much work to do… habits book coming January at the latest, gear post coming as soon as two pretty awesome things come in, RV post at some point.

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