Source: Erica Robinson
Source: Erica Robinson
Ask yourself: do I want to stay the same, or do I want to be different? I have no doubt that the universal answer is that we want to be different. Not only do we want to be different; we want to be better. This desire is a beautiful quality in human nature. Our drive to improve ourselves and our surroundings demonstrates our faith and investment in the future. In short, we are an optimistic species.
Optimism is a valuable quality, but it is often tempered by fear. Easily swayed by setbacks or distracted by external and internal factors, we want to change, but we self-sabotage or give up before we’ve put in the time and effort to achieve it. We are intoxicated by the promise of transformation, but we allow fear to take the reins all too often.
“What if I fail?” is the question we ask ourselves, instead of, “what will it take?”
Earn Confidence Through Action
We as a society have a habit of attempting to intellectualize our way to confidence. By that I mean that we try to talk ourselves into feeling good. Unfortunately, confidence is not something that we can think ourselves into. If it were, if there were some magic phrase that unlocked confidence, we would have discovered it by now. No, confidence is not a state that we can convince ourselves into. Confidence is something that we earn through action. Specifically, self-confidence is built when we take actions that make us uncomfortable.
Discomfort is non-negotiable when it comes to earning self-confidence, and it is a prerequisite for achieving transformation. If we could sit-on-the-couch our way to a six-pack, we would. If we could coast our way to promotions, we would. But we cannot—and we should be thankful for that. Things that are easy to achieve are not worthwhile pursuits. In order to transform into a more confident, fulfilled human, we must invest our time and put ourselves at mental risk. We must reach.
Reaching is a universal human quality. Seeking new territory and new challenges is what we are born to do.
Get Your Mind Right
Think of the most memorable, most meaningful moments in your life. Think of the times when you achieved something that you had to work hard for, when you were really proud of yourself. It may have been getting a promotion or starting a new business, or it may have been graduating from school or a program that you’re proud of, or perhaps it was the birth of your children or committing to a relationship. Remember how those moments felt.
The common thread of discomfort is still there: in order to earn a promotion or start a new business, we have to put a lot on the line, sometimes everything that we own. Graduating from school or a prestigious program requires our time and energy. In order to fall in love, we need to make ourselves vulnerable to another person. And more so, the act of reaching is in itself a risk. Can you remember the times that you reached for something and you felt more alive?
To be sure, losing 100 pounds, running a marathon, or gaining enough strength to back squat 500 pounds would be transformative. Our bodies would change from eating smarter, from running further, and from training with more intensity. Our habits would have to change in order to achieve any physical transformation.
The Process of Taking a Risk
It is the process of reaching, of taking a risk and going “all in,” that is the most transformative aspect of goal setting. It is there, in the minutiae of meal prep, of walking 10,000 steps per day, of saving pennies, of studying in the early morning hours, of learning new ways to communicate with our loved ones, where transformation, the change that we ache for every day, occurs. Setting the goal and allowing it to collect cobwebs reinforces the inner voice that says, “Don’t try too hard.” The small, planned acts that make us uncomfortable, that force us to think and behave differently, are the acts that build our confidence.
Do you want to stay the same as you are now, or do you want to be even better? What challenge would make you proud to be you? Where is your comfort zone, and how can you step outside of it?
The moments that make you the most uncomfortable are the most valuable of your life. Devote yourself to what will make you proud to be you. Embrace your discomfort, because on the other side of it is transformation.