Comfort - the enemy of progress?


When I watched The Greatest Showman for the first time (I have gone on to see it, or hear it from a distance, a further 18 times, give or take), I was hit in the chest by a quote: “comfort is the enemy of progress”.

You may recognise this scenario. You’ve been lost, stuck, asking “what the hell is happening with my life”, and then it comes - a little bit of clarity, and then more, you start to feel excited, lit up, driven and then you stop. Sometimes this happens over a few weeks, sometimes this entire process can happen in just seconds. It is so common and I see it all the time with the women I work with. We move forward a giant leap, and then it’s like our feet get stuck in the sand and we can’t move any further.  Something else has taken hold. 

When I first worked with a coach, before I became a coach myself, I remember her wisely sharing with me that as you move towards something you want, something more purposeful, something that is going to shake things up - resistance will set in. It will arrive in the form of critics making you doubt yourself, sometimes they’ll be external, but more often than not internal voices muttering all the reasons why it won’t work. Sometimes it's a physical reaction and you just can't move. And time and time again, now I’m the coach, I see this pattern. As we move forward, we also stop ourselves. And comfort is often at the root of this. 

There is nothing wrong with comfort - it’s human nature - but we have to ask ‘when does being comfortable become a tie that you can’t move away from?’. It may be the area you live; the income you earn; the job that you know so well; even the schools your children attend - they make you feel safe, secure, /comfortable/. But when you want to relocate and that means changing your community and schools; or you want to change your job and that means a drop in salary or a less secure income; or you want to learn something new but can’t put down the remote, comfort can become our enemy.

Comfort is our enemy when it stops us pursuing the life we know ultimately will fulfil us.

Because while we crave comfort, and boy do we crave it, comfort can also lead to lethargy and this almost always leads to unhappiness and discontentment. So yes, you may be comfortable with your regular pay check but if it makes you miserable every day to go to that job, comfort isn’t serving you. You may love the fact that your son enjoys his school but if the comfort of your son stops you from being able to move towards something that will fulfil the whole family, including your son, comfort isn’t serving you. And physically, you may be comfortable sat on your sofa night after night watching the latest box set you’re hooked on, or lying in bed in the morning, but if that’s stopping you completing that coursework you want to do, or getting a desired run in, comfort isn’t serving you. 

What we want the most in life can sometimes be crystal clear but its so much harder to move forward if we are being held back by something - because that weight will keep pulling you down, no matter how hard you swim. Sometimes we have to break ties to physically move on. Cut loose and swim freely to the surface. Sometimes we need to work out how to bring some of that ‘thing’ with us so that we feel less like we are losing a piece of ourselves as we step into that something new. 

So, this is simply an an invitation to check yourself. Look beyond the excuses and go a bit deeper down. What is actually stopping you? Do you recognise comfort as the thing holding you back. And if it isn’t serving you, how can you being mindful of that, move on regardless? 

Nicola GibbComment