Less Comfortable: Week 1
For my 2021 New Year’s Resolution, I decided that I would try to be less comfortable.
The pandemic has been tough, and has shaken up all aspects of our lives. But over the past year I realized I had settled slightly too much into a new routine. I would work from home, but always clocked out right at 5. I would exercise, but only from a set hour-long routine that never felt too difficult. I followed politics closely, but only talked to people I agreed with. I would watch shows and read books to relax, but only “safe” ones that I had already seen/read, or else knew that I would like. Essentially, I stayed in my comfort zone, and my comfort zone remained pretty small.
At the end of the year, however, I did read one book that made me think. In Living with a Seal, entrepreneur Jesse Itzler decides, essentially on a whim, to invite Navy Seal and “toughest athlete alive” David Goggins into his home for a month. The one condition? Do whatever Goggins tells him for a month. Itzler himself has probably the largest comfort zone of anyone I’ve ever seen. He once pretended to be a well-known rapper in order to meet an agent, then showed up and gave the agent a sample of his own music instead.
But Goggins still finds ways to push him. A lot of the book is simply accounts of endless runs, push-ups, pull-ups, and burpees, but some of the challenges included sleeping in a chair for a night and jumping through ice into a frozen lake. Why? Cause fuck you, that’s why. Do it because it’s hard. Goggins is full of basic yet somehow still insightful truisms like “If you don’t challenge yourself, you don’t know yourself”, “you have to enjoy the pain”, and “don’t get too comfortable. Ever.”
That was my problem in 2020, I stayed too comfortable. At the same time, I never really took the time to appreciate what I had. A loving family, a healthy and happy relationship, and great friendships, yes, but even smaller things like a warm bed and a roof over my head. Near the end of the book, Itzler writes:
Pre-SEAL I sometimes would be on the couch and not want to do whatever needed to be done and I’d be like “Fuck it,” and blow it off. Procrastinate.
I don’t think like that anymore. Just get off the couch and do it is what I remind myself. SEAL would never say, “Fuck it.” He’d get off the couch and do it. Regardless of the time, the temperature, or how tired he was. I absorbed some of that just-get-it-done and there-are-no-excuses attitude. I’m grateful for that.
My perspective on time has changed too. I got so much more done when SEAL was here. I was much more efficient. Now if I have to drive a few hours in the car to get somewhere, I do not get frustrated. Rather, I think about how lucky I am to be sitting in a warm and comfortable environment. It’s weird, maybe I became more present or maybe I’m more appreciative, but whatever it is, I view time differently. Maybe it is a newfound patience or maturity
That perspective was what I felt I needed, so I made my resolution to be less comfortable. A few minutes into the new year, I took off my shirt and ran down Albany beach into the freezing water. Luckily, my friend Juan was there to take a video.
So this year, I’m gonna try to do something uncomfortable every other week.
It’s allowed to be uncomfortable for many different reasons; physically uncomfortable, mentally tough, psychologically scary. I’ll try to post each week’s challenge to this blog. (It’s also possible I may skip a couple weeks; I’m not actually in Navy Seal training and I do have a life.)
What was interesting was how I really didn’t want to run into the water, but the moment I had, I realized it wasn’t so bad. Later that night, I appreciated dry clothes and socks more than I ever had. And the memory of that night is purely a positive one. The fear and doubt were the worst parts.
So here’s to a year of less comfort, more challenges, and hopefully ultimately more growth. Get hyped!
I’d love for you to send ideas for challenges! A few ground rules though:
- It should be possible for me to do.
Bad example: “Do a full planche every morning for a week.”
I can’t do that (yet) no matter how much I want to.
- It shouldn’t take up an unreasonable amount of time.
Bad example: “Make and edit a half hour youtube video each day for a week.”
I still have to do math for a living.
- It should be legal, ethical, and safe.
Bad example: “Climb onto the roof of [insert building]”
Some good examples:
- Do 500 pull ups in a day.
- Try a new food every day for a week.
- Have an hour-long political discussion with a Trump supporter (or someone else I disagree with) and try to understand where they come from.