Unless we are compelled to do something, most of us live life doing the things we feel like doing. Happiness, comfort and pleasure are our main motivators during our non-working hours. This approach keeps us firmly rooted in our comfort zones.
Unfortunately, the tricky thing about comfort zones is that they tend to shrink if they aren’t stretched regularly. When we aren’t pushing their boundaries, they start to close in on us, and we find ourselves “comfortable” doing less and less. Before long, all we feel like doing is renting movies from the local video store.
We won’t grow inside our comfort zones. Growth is beyond their borders, and we have to push through some ugly discomfort to reach it. Like a rocket leaving the earth’s atmosphere, we will expend most of our fuel getting out of the lower atmosphere of our habits, but there is a payoff – it gets much, much easier once we have made it through.
What this means is that if we are ever going to introduce some positive change into our lives, we are going to have to do what we don’t feel like doing. We have to exercise when our body screams, “NO!” We have to apologize when our pride gives us excuses. We have to take a leap when the fear (spelled F.E.A.R.) cements our feet to the ground. We’re going to have to fake it until we make it.
In other words, we are going to have to act like we want to do it even when we absolutely don’t want to do it. But there is a payoff here, too. It gets easier. The feelings will follow after we act. The want to follows the do.
The American psychologist, Jerome Bruner, says,
We are more likely to act ourselves into a feeling than feel ourselves into an action.
When we use our will to take positive action even though we don’t feel like it, the positive feelings will eventually follow as we start to see the benefits of our new behaviors. Who hasn’t felt better after a long-procrastinated workout, a pride-swallowing resolution to a family conflict or a a fear-conquering leap of faith?
True, the feelings don’t always come right away. It may take repeated trips out of the comfort zone. But before too long, our comfort catches up with our new activity and we feel better about ourselves for doing what was difficult.
When our feelings decide our actions, we retreat into our comfort zones, but when our actions lead our feelings, we grow. Act before you feel like it. Fake it until you make it.