I said laziness was your enemy. That statement is still true. But comfort is also your enemy.
Steve read my Sunday newsletter about work-life balance. In this newsletter, I said that work-life balance shouldn’t be your goal. Instead, your goal should be exceptional results in every area of your life. That means you need an exceptional personal life (in all the categories in that area of your life) and in your work life (and all the categories included therein).
Steve asked me about stress. He said that high expectations in each of these categories creates stress. And he is right. High expectations of yourself necessarily means you will feel the pressure to perform. The alternative is the comfort of low expectations—and the less-than-extraordinary results that always accompany comfort.
Stress is an interpretation of events. You feel stressed because you are investing in some event with meaning. When you set the bar very high, you feel the stress of working beyond your comfort level to perform. It means more work, more learning, and more improving. That comes with discomfort.
You might be stressed thinking about high expectations because you tell yourself that failing means that you are a failure. Or you might worry that other people will judge you, or that you will disappoint them. That is one interpretation. It will certainly cause stress.
Another interpretation is that failure is how you learn some of the most important and useful lessons – lessons that will help you adjust your strategy. You might interpret people judging you as an opportunity to hear different views, and you might interpret disappointing others on your way to better results as a better choice than disappointing them by being less than you are capable of. These interpretations don’t create quite as much stress.
Much of the time, stress is an interpretation of events that haven’t even happened, or events that may never happen.
Stress is a form of psychological discomfort. Too much of it is a bad thing. But too little stress is even worse.
If you are comfortable with your results in any area of your life, you have reached the point of stasis. You are no longer growing, and you are no longer improving. You are stagnant, with all the negative connotations that surround that word.
- It’s more comfortable to sit on the couch and watch television than it is to ride a bicycle. The comfortable choice will make you sick, and the uncomfortable one will keep you healthy.
- It’s more comfortable to sit and wait for inbound leads to come t0 you than it is to pick up the phone and call your dream client. One of these will make you a commoditized order-taker, and the other will make you a rainmaker.
- It’s more comfortable to believe that your work life is good enough than it is to strive to make it exceptional. One of these will make you an employee and the other will make you indispensable.
It’s more comfortable to want to have a good personal life than it is to design an exceptional life. One of these will give you 80 or so trips around the sun on a little, water-covered spinning rock. The other will give you an extraordinary set of experiences you can call a life well-lived.
Are you too comfortable?
What fear keeps you from setting the bar for yourself higher than it is now?
What vision motivates you enough to compel you to act now?