Career Growth: Why Feeling Uncomfortable is Actually a Good Thing

Navigating your career can be a tricky and uncomfortable task. To top it off, the mind can play clever and deceiving tricks on you. The mind wants to feel comfortable.  When you try to do something new, do you feel like you should stop immediately and go back to the way things were? That is because the mind does not like change.

Have you ever wondered why you try to start exercising or eat healthy but usually fall off track? The mind likes comfort as a protective technique to keep you safe and secure. With all these excuses and rationalizations, your mind can actually be sabotaging you from your long-term career success and happiness.

It is easy to justify staying stuck in a rut because it just feels oh-so-comfortable. You say things like, “I don’t like change.” or “it’s not the right time.” or “I’m not sure what will happen.” Mine was “This is the path that I have set for myself.” Even though you don’t necessarily like where you are, your mind likes to keep you in your box to stay safe and cozy. 

Now that you can recognize the excuses and rationalizations, here are a few reasons why feeling uncomfortable is actually a good thing:

1.    You are actually expanding your comfort zone.  Each time you do something that feels scary; your comfort zone gets bigger. If you say that you don’t like change, you can take small steps to change that limiting belief about yourself. First thing you can do is reframe the thought from negative to positive. For example, instead of “I don’t like change” rephrase it to “I accept change and the opportunities it provides me.” Feels better right?

Next, take small steps. Think about your career like a small circle on a sheet of paper when you start. With each risk and uncomfortable step, your circle gets bigger. As you create a bigger circle, the parts inside the circle that used to make you feel so uncomfortable actually just feel normal and a part of you.

What did I do? I used to think, “Talking to people makes me nervous.” I hated the anxiety that I felt and knew that I didn’t want that anxiety to define me. I took opportunities to change my thinking. I changed my thought from the negative to a positive thought of “I like talking to people. I am confident.” Every chance that I could, I would take steps to tackle my anxiety. I would raise my hand often in college, cantor at church, and I even volunteered to deliver a speech in front of hundreds of people. Now, talking and public speaking comes naturally to me. I knew who I wanted to be in my mind and now it is part of me inside and out.  

2.    You can fake it until you become it. When I heard this saying from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power posing, it made so much sense. When you do something enough, you internalize it. It becomes a part of you. Sometimes you can take that uncomfortable and nervous feeling as a red flag that you are doing something wrong. Remember that your mind likes comfort. It’s not wrong; it’s just your mind trying to keep you safe. Even now, I get a twinge of anxiety and nervousness when I go to a networking event or before a presentation. I’ve faked it long enough now by putting those thoughts aside that feeling confident is part of me.

3.    The other side is so much sweeter.  Deep down you know the person that you are and the person that you want to be. Who are you? Why are you unique? When you take the uncomfortable steps to get closer and closer to who you are meant to be, it feels so right. You feel so energized, alive, and free. You can become who you are meant to be and have a career that fits with who you are. No one will confidently create opportunities for your career but you. You can get there. One uncomfortable step at a time.