At some stage in our life all of us will find ourselves in a rut.
Sometimes we’re in that rut because we fear change.
Other times, we know we need to change — to shake things up — but we don’t quite know how to do it.
I’ve spoken to lots of people on the verge of doing something exciting.
They have a business they’d like to start.
Maybe they want to invest in real estate.
The thing is that often they don’t get any further.
Because they’re too comfortable.
The thought of being uncomfortable scares them.
They lack the mental toughness to withstand that period of discomfort.
So they put off making a decision.
But let me put this to you: not making a decision is actually making a decision.
Choosing to stay the same and not change your life is an active decision you make every day.
I even heard one psychologist refer to it as “same-ing”.
And who wants to choose sameness every day?
The positive news is if you’re too afraid to take the plunge or journey outside your comfort zone then there are things you can do to build mental toughness.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Take small steps
Our goals can seem overwhelming when viewed as a whole, but if you break up your goal into small increments then it becomes a lot more achievable.
Just say, for example, you want to invest in real estate.
Rather than leaping in straight away — which would be foolish anyway without doing your research — start by reading up on investment blogs (such as this one) or having coffee with successful investors.
Goals become more achievable, and less intimidating, when broken down into steps.
2. Get physically uncomfortable
OK, so this may sound odd, but assuming you’re fit and able, a bit of adrenaline in your life is not a bad thing.
It will get your heart rate up and gets you out of your comfort zone.
An adrenaline activity need not be death-defying either.
For some it will mean training for a marathon, while for others it will be a cold plunge in the ocean in the middle of winter.
It doesn’t matter what the activity is, the main point is that you should be slightly uncomfortable doing it.
In the military they have a term for this and it’s called discomfort training.
They place the recruits in a range of uncomfortable situations, with the aim of building mental toughness.
3. Face a fear
You may have a phobia that grips you.
For many, it’s public speaking.
For others it’s an irrational fear of heights or crowded spaces.
Sometimes the best thing you can do in these instances is seek psychological help, especially if the fear is crippling.
But if you feel you’re ready to face the phobia, then a technique of gentle exposure to the fear is often the way to go.
Rather than saying no to public speaking, and avoiding all roles that require it, you could volunteer to do it.
You’ll realise that you’ve let this fear control your life and stop you from doing everything you want to do.
You won’t feel held back anymore.
4. Surround yourself with doers
There’s nothing more inspiring than people living life to the fullest.
The more people you surround yourself with who are like this, the braver you will become.
The opposite applies, too.
If you hang out with unmotivated people, those who are happy to do the bare minimum, then guess what? You will be too.
I tend to think that there’s two kinds of people in life: those that want the easy path and those that want to excel and be challenged.
Find friends and mentors who fall into the latter group and stick to them like glue.
I’m sure you’ll find that you’ll be motivated by their example to go after what you want in life.
You’ll look at your friends and colleagues who are taking risks and challenging themselves and think, “Why not me?”
And why not you?
That’s a very good question to ask.
But before you come up with a range of excuses about why you can’t, tell yourself that’s more negative talk.
At the end of the day, all that’s stopping you is yourself.