Anytime we’re willing to stretch ourselves past the point that feels comfortable (and in control), to take risks, and to do hard things, we see big things happen. Outside of our comfort zone is where all the amazing, life-changing, juicy stuff happens.
The thing is, stepping outside of our comfort zone is… well, uncomfortable. It feels scary and hard. It’s confusing and overwhelming. It feels risky and unsure. Sometimes it even makes us question our self worth. What if we look stupid? What if we make a mistake? Worse yet, what if we fail?
But all the magic happens in those places that don’t feel all that secure.
And that’s why it is so important, as bloggers and entrepreneurs, to make a mindset shift that allows us to embrace discomfort. Because when we go from thinking, “This is uncomfortable, I don’t think I can do this,” to “This is uncomfortable… It must be a good thing!”, we can accomplish bigger things than we ever thought possible!
Embracing change and constantly pushing past our comfort zone also keeps us from getting stagnant, which is kind-of a big deal in the online world. Despite the fact that the Internet is constantly changing, it’s still pretty easy to get complacent in our businesses, to settle into what we’ve learned so far, to go with the flow and not push ourselves to keep learning and growing.
But if we’re not growing and evolving along with the world around us, we’ll get left behind.
Instead, when we take that leap and make a move — even when it’s uncomfortable and scary — not only do we grow, but we gain a little more courage and a little more confidence to tackle the next uncomfortable and scary thing. Embracing and pushing through discomfort creates a positive feedback loop that makes us stronger, braver, and more confident in our businesses.
Behind Every Successful Blogger is a Whole Lot of Discomfort
I know it is easy to look around at other bloggers, especially the successful ones who have “made it,” and assume their path has always been easy, filled with smart decisions and nothing but wins, and that they’ve always had a plan and knew exactly what they were doing along the way. After all, they seem so confident, so self-assured. They dare to try things you would never dream of.
But the truth is that every successful blogger has to start somewhere, and going from “newbie” to “rockstar” ALWAYS involves a whole lot of discomfort along the way.
Believe me, there have been SO many times I’ve felt uncomfortable in my blogging journey.
I mean, just STARTING a blog can be uncomfortable! It’s scary to put yourself and your ideas out there into the world. Not to mention figuring out everything that goes along with launching a blog.
When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing. Every day was completely uncomfortable because I was heading into new and uncharted territory. Then, after a while, I started to get the hang of it. I was using the Blogger platform at the time, and the more I blogged, the more I picked up on how to use the platform, how to format the posts, how to add images, etc. In time, it became easier, more comfortable, and less scary.
But after learning about blogging, I knew if I wanted to take my blog to the next level, I needed to get off the Blogger platform and migrate to a self-hosted site on WordPress.
Talk about uncomfortable! I had JUST gotten into the swing of things with Blogger, and now I had to make a switch to a totally new platform. To be honest, it was really scary. There was a learning curve, and figuring out WordPress was harder than Blogger. I felt like I was right back at square one, and I was completely uncomfortable.
But I’m SO glad I pushed through that discomfort! Switching to a self-hosted WordPress site was one of the best things I could have done for my blog, and if I wasn’t willing to embrace my discomfort and fear about the idea, I would’ve never done it.
Another super uncomfortable experience for me was going to my first blog conference. I’m a total introvert, and the thought of going to a big conference where I didn’t know anyone was completely and utterly terrifying.
But again, thank goodness I embraced that discomfort, because the conference was amazing. It was totally worth it! I learned a ton, met people who are still friends to this day, and took one major step closer to building the business I had dreamed of.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the best things that have happened in my business have been a direct result of feeling completely scared and uncomfortable… and then doing it anyway. And I would dare to bet that any other successful blogger you ask will tell you the same thing.
Why We Need to Move Past Our Comfort Zone
There’s no way around it: if we want to be successful with our blogs, we need to learn how to embrace the discomfort every step of the way, and push past that place that feels safe and secure.
The truth is, when it comes to blogging, there are growing pains at every turn. It’s uncomfortable to switch platforms. It’s uncomfortable to learn new things, like how to optimize our sites or how to write a blog post that captures our readers’ attention. It’s uncomfortable to figure out how to monetize our blogs and how to sell to our audience. But each step builds on the last, and if we’re not willing to embrace the discomfort along the way, we’ll stay stuck at step one.
For example, if I hadn’t had switched my first blog to WordPress, I wouldn’t have been able to optimize it for SEO the way I did. And if I hadn’t optimized it for SEO, I wouldn’t have gotten my first big boost in traffic in 2011. And without that boost, I wouldn’t have seen my revenues spike and learned that, “Wow… This is really possible!”
All of those steps felt strange and scary and hard. But if I hadn’t been willing to keep pushing past my comfort zone, all of that traffic and revenue would have never happened. And who knows? I might have gotten frustrated, given up, and had a completely different life than I do today.
When we embrace the discomfort and are willing to walk through fear, big things happen.
The Magic of Thinking Big
I think one of the magic ingredients to finding the courage to push through fear and discomfort is daring to think big. When we set big goals that make us feel excited about the future, it gives us the strength and motivation to push through the hard stuff in the present to get there.
When I first started blogging, I set the admittedly ridiculous-sounding goal of making enough money from my blog to support my family and retire my husband. Everyone laughed at me, including my husband. But having that end goal in mind and picturing the day I could tell my husband, “Honey, it’s time to quit!” gave me the boost I needed to continually push myself out of my comfort zone to get there.
If I hadn’t had the end goal in mind — making enough money to allow my husband to quit his job — I don’t know if I would’ve had the courage to do all the scary and uncomfortable things I had to do along the way, like learn SEO and make the switch to a self-hosted platform, to figure out how to monetize, and how to keep going when things went very wrong. But I wanted to retire my husband more than I wanted to be comfortable, so it gave me the courage to push through.
That big comfort zone shift — allowing myself to believe that big goal — enabled all the little comfort zone shifts along the way.
So if we want to find the courage to step outside of our comfort zone, we need a reason. What’s your reason? What’s your big fantasy goal? The one that feels a little wild and scary — and yes, uncomfortable — and that you don’t dare allow yourself to believe is possible? That’s your reason. That big comfort zone shift is what will enable you to make the smaller comfort zone shifts along the way that will foster the growth you need to get there.
Find your reason, and you’ll find your courage.
Practical Tips for Embracing Discomfort
Talking about embracing discomfort is one thing, but actually DOING it is another. Let’s talk about a few practical tips for embracing discomfort in our businesses:
Know Your Goals
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s very important that we always keep our big goals in mind to inspire the courage we need to embrace our discomfort.
Look at your big goals. Do they scare you a little bit? Do they give you butterflies in your stomach? If not, you might not be thinking big enough. If your goal isn’t big enough to excite you on the deepest level, it will be tough to find the motivation to make yourself uncomfortable enough to achieve it.
Set goals that inspire you, excite you, and make you just a little bit scared. Those kinds of goals will give you the drive and motivation to push outside of your comfort zone.
ABL = always be learning. Develop a hunger for knowledge. Always be on the lookout for new things you can learn to help you along your journey. When your desire to learn new things is stronger than the fear of doing those things, you’ll welcome discomfort with open arms.
If there was one piece of advice I could give you, it would be to stay open. Say “yes” to opportunities, try different things, don’t be afraid to do something that feels completely out of left field. The more opportunities you take advantage of and the more new experiences you have, the less discomfort you’ll feel. Plus, you never know where one of those opportunities may take you!
There’s a lot about building a blogging business that feels uncomfortable. If we embrace the discomfort — instead of running or hiding from it — not only will our businesses grow, but we’ll grow right along with them.
Have you ever found success on the other side of your comfort zone? If so, tell us about it in the comments below!