Discomfort is Required

I did a 20-minute HIIT workout this morning -- my favorite kind because it’s only 20 minutes. And although my muscles were burning, my heart was racing and “is this over yet” thoughts were going through my head, I knew it was only 20 minutes of discomfort. So I allowed it, I welcomed it, I challenged it to beat me. I was determined to complete the 20 minutes because I knew I could.

I also knew that this is how I will get stronger. Breathe easier. Feel more alive. Change happens whether we welcome it or not, but if you want to choose your change, you often have to choose your pain.

In a world where I feel there are few truly real facts, this is one of them: discomfort is required for growth. Muscle growth, personal growth or career growth. Even growth in your marriage. To go from where we are to somewhere new we have to be willing to leave where we are - while it may not be painful, it often will feel uncomfortable because change, in its essence, is momentarily unsettling.

Yet we spend so much time actively seeking comfort. There’s a whole culinary category called comfort foods! When discomfort comes knocking, we run the other way looking to self soothe. Sweatpants, COMFY socks, tasks that are easy, friends that affirm who we are... all the places in life that slow us down and tell us right where we are is good enough.

About two years ago, I shared a post on Instagram about wearing lingerie to bed every night… that it was fun and flirty and allowed me to slip into my softer side after a day of being in charge. I then posted a poll asking if people would rather 1) feel sexy and alive or 2) comfy. To my surprise 85% of people said comfy! I couldn’t believe it. Why would anyone want to be comfy when they could feel unstoppable, turned on and magnetic?!

But now I get it.

Not everyone is desiring a path of growth. Some people like where they are and want to stay there. And there’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, there is beauty in being right where you are. But for many of us, that just wasn't a choice. Or it didn't feel like one. There was something stirring within that had its own timeline and its own drive for change. Often mirrored by life happenings that cause us to pause and evaluate if we can continue how we are going or if we need, change.

Life, the universe, god… brings discomfort to you. The new job that’s a challenge. The marriage that’s hit a bump in the road. The health issue that’s caused a resetting of priorities. I don't believe these are happening to hold us back or derail us -- quite the opposite. They’re all here to help us. To show us that our life manifest is greater than this moment and greater than all the moments before. These struggle-filled periods of discomfort aren't asking us to "hold on and get through it", they're asking us to grow, to move, to nudge us toward more freedom, connectedness and purpose... if we’d only let ’em.

Now looking back at my path over the last 5 years, I can see the dots connect. I can see how everything that felt like an unfair challenge or disadvantage was all leading me right to this point. It’s hard not to believe there is a master plan for each of us when you can so clearly see the experiences of your life leading up to a bigger story, bigger meaning and bigger purpose.

A few years ago I was teaching my kids to sew. My daughter wants to be a fashion designer, so why not start at age 5 learning the basics? We were making wrist cuffs out of an old T-shirt when I reached in my sewing box and found an old business card. It was mine. From about 15 years ago when I wanted to be a fashion stylist and personal shopper. What was shocking to me is that the bottom of the business card said “Be Your Best Self.” What?! That is the same tagline I launched Collective Gain with 15 years later! I had no memory of these cards or that I had even had this idea of wanting to help people be who they were meant to be, only through a different lens. The me 15 years ago hadn't experienced the depth of who I was, yet, but had felt the call to help people experience the best versions of themselves.

Then, twelve years ago I launched The Gorgeous Project. It was a passion project with the goal of brightening people’s days, leaving them feeling inspired and excited about life. I posted an inspiring quote on Facebook every day for three years.