Well. We’re more than halfway through the year and making life changes hurts. I’ve been going after these 2019 goals and I’m happy with the progress. But damn. I’m worn slick.
I think this is something we don’t talk about enough. Making life changes hurts. Getting better takes a lot of work. You get out of your uncomfortable comfort zone, but that’s tough because there’s work to be done.
This isn’t meant to be a pity party. Nor am I eagerly awaiting a comment that says “well, why don’t you stop trying then?”
This is simply to say that if you’ve been working hard and you feel like it’s more growing pains than milestone celebrations, you’re not wrong.
But all of this begs the question: Why does it hurt so much to get better? Like, isn’t that antithetical to improvement? Shouldn’t you get to a point where you ascend to heaven on a cloud and everyone just brings you congratulatory cupcakes for all the hard work you’ve put in?
The answer is yes, it should be that way. But no, it doesn’t actually happen. (Much to my chagrin. I love me some cupcakes.)
Now, I’m the type of person who likes to investigate my internal workings, and then post them right here on this ol’ blog. So, it’s with that intent that I want to talk about why making life changes hurts.
Making Life Changes Hurts
So, you’ve decided it’s time to get better or chase a dream or actually take care of yourself. You’re going to do the thing! And whatever that thing is, it doesn’t matter. Because honestly, whatever change you’ve decided on, it’s going to be harder than just going to work and coming home to drink wine and watch Netflix until you go to bed.
(And you will spend a lot of time thinking about how you wish you could go back to sitting on the couch and just watching TV and drinking instead of chasing the thing you’re chasing. I’m not kidding. I have this conversation with other big life changers at least once a week.)
You’re changing habits and that means you have some work to do. Because that 21 days to make a habit? That’s bullshit.
The length of time it takes to make a habit is largely dependent up on you. Like, what do your brain chemicals do when it’s time to make a new habit? What’s your history with creating new habits? Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? ALL of that is going to affect how you adapt.
(If you want to learn more about habits, check out Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin, or go to Sarah Von Bargen’s Habit School. The book will tell you why your brain is the way it is when it comes to habits. Habit School will help you actually build those habits.)
In the end, it’s staunch perseverance in the face of wine and Netflix that gets the job done.In the end, it's staunch perseverance in the face of wine and Netflix that gets the job done. Click To Tweet
You Expand the Comfort Zone
That staunch perseverance keeps you going when you first start, and after a while, it gets easier. See, your comfort zone shifts. It expands to accommodate this new thing that you’ve made into a habit.
Or maybe you just move it. See, here’s what I think:
They say (I don’t know who they are, but they sure do a whole lot of talking) that each time you step outside your comfort zone, that’s where improvement happens. It’s the growth area.
So, it only stands to reason that the more you step outside your comfort zone, the bigger your comfort zone gets. And yeah. That’s gonna hurt.
Remember, building new habits, making changes — lots of growing pains.
But here’s a thing I’d like to posit:
Once stepping out of your comfort zone becomes the norm, it gets harder to go back to the old way of doing things. Like, once you have fallen in love with the new way of life, it’s hard to go back to the old way.
Sure, once you’ve gotten healthy, there are probably still times when you think about eating a meal the way you used to. Or maybe you want to skip a work out and sleep in.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
But can you go back to doing it all the time the way you used to?
I guess it depends.
See, I think that there comes a time when the old way of life is so far removed from the new comfort zone you’ve created that it’s now outside of the comfort zone.
Sure, it can be a lot easier than some of the thing you do now. But if you’ve created new habits and they’re now second nature? Well. Isn’t it easier to stay with the new habits?
Which brings me to my next point:
It Gets Easier
All these hard things get easier. Or, rather, maybe they don’t get easier. Maybe you get better. (Admittedly, I stole that quote from Autumn Calabrese. She says it in one of her Beach Body workouts — it’s either 21-Day Fix or A Little Obsessed. I’m generally too tired during either of them to notice the quote, let alone which workout I’m doing.)
I spend a lot of time thinking about Tobey McGuire saying that Rome was built “brick by brick” in Seabiscuit. Or maybe it’s a normal amount of time. I don’t have the data readily available to know what the average amount of time people spend ruminating on Tobey McGuire Seabiscuit quotes happens to be.I don't have the data readily available to know what the average amount of time people spend ruminating on Tobey McGuire Seabiscuit quotes happens to be. Click To Tweet
But what I’m saying is this: When you lay the first brick, the task seems insurmountable. By the one-hundredth brick, you can see that you’ve made a smidgen of progress. And by the millionth brick? Well, congrats, there, ol’ buddy ol’ pal, because you’ve built your metaphorical Rome.
The novel you’re writing is hard to start. But by the time you get to the tenth chapter, it starts to flow more easily. You know the characters and where you’re taking them and how they need to get where they’re going.
That business plan you’re struggling to write? After you define the mission statement and clearly see the hole in the market that you fill, it practically drafts itself.
The person you want to be seems so far away. But every day you make steps that take you in that direction, and you get there.
Now, it’s still hard. Like, this post is all about how making life changes hurts.
But you wanna know something? These life changes don’t hurt half as much as not making them.
What Life Changes Are You Making?
Starting a workout plan? Looking to create a new budget to get you on track for early retirement? Want to figure out how you can become the writer you’ve always dreamed of being? Let me know in the comments!