Would you rather be comfortable or prosperous?
Jeff Olson, in his book The Slight Edge, observed that “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” In other words, unsuccessful people value their short-term comfort more than their long-term results.
This seems to be a recurring theme in my world (and my blog posts), and there’s a good reason for it. The disempowering choice of comfort over results is made day in and day out. You grab some fast food rather than prepare a healthful meal at home. You plop in front of the TV after a long day rather than take a brisk walk. You ignore the email from those unhappy clients, hoping (or at least acting like) the problem will go away if you just ignore it long enough.
Every such choice feels good at that moment, but it will unfortunately come back to bite you in the behind down the road. You may find your clothes don’t fit any more; you may lose a ton of money when your client leaves you for someone more responsive to her needs. Whatever form your comfortable choice takes, it will have consequences.
So if you’re in the habit of doing what’s comfortable rather than what will move you toward your important goals, what can you do to start letting go of that habit and start adopting the habits of successful people? Here are some tools to get you going.
- Start small. You’ll experience more success – and more sustainable success – if you get some small wins under your belt before tackling the BIG challenges. Don’t start by trying to jog a mile a day; instead, choose to start smart by just walking around the block once a day. Don’t practice a new sales skill on your most highly desired prospect. Instead, practice on someone you figure is likely to say “no” anyway; you’ll build your skills without burning an important bridge. And who knows? They might say “yes” after all.
- Focus on the outcome, not the process. If you really take time to acknowledge how much of an energy suck it is to keep avoiding an uncomfortable task, you realize how counterproductive such behavior is. If you then vividly imagine what it would be like to have that task behind you, I’m willing to bet you’d feel an almost physical relaxation as you imagine releasing your emotional load. And how much more could you accomplish if you were really light on your feet – and in your mind?
- Wallow in the discomfort. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I’ve found it very useful. If I spend enough time stewing over the anticipated discomfort, I get tired of said stewing and will just do the thing. The most interesting aspect of this? Very often the discomfort is far less than what I was anticipating. (Maybe I should re-read my own blog post about storytelling…) Using this tactic makes it easier to implement the following one.
- Just drag the damn albatross off your neck. I often find that, if I get frustrated enough with my own wimpiness, it’s easier to get off my butt and do the uncomfortable task I’ve been trying to avoid. Once again, Nike had it right: Just do it.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite tool or strategy that helps you push past the discomfort to get to the reward? If so, please share; successful entrepreneurs are always looking for new and better ways to succeed!