How To Escape Your Comfort Zone By Embracing Desperation
Sorry, the universe won’t “fix it” for you
My business was dead, but I refused to acknowledge it. My hard work had destroyed my finances rather than generate the rewards I had envisioned.
It felt unfair and unjust, but I knew that the universe had a way of righting itself. I believed if I could stick with it a little longer, my effort would pay off.
I had bought into the, “ask the universe, and you shall receive” bullshit after attending a philosophy talk in Boulder, Colorado. I had faith in this quixotic view of life.
As the weeks and months progressed, my financial status worsened to near catastrophic. I dashed any hope of building a business and decided to look for a job. I called my mentor and told him about my situation.
Nothing motivates you out of your comfort zone like the urgent sense of desperation.
He agreed and told me if I followed his instructions, I’d score a slew of job interviews within days. He gave me a script which we rehearsed. I then had to call all of my contacts and ask for their help — in some cases insist.
I was super uncomfortable about that sort of thing, but nothing motivates you out of your comfort zone like the urgent sense of desperation.
Two weeks later, I had landed a new job, one that paid well. Asking the universe for help yielded nothing, but taking action got me what I desperately needed.
The world is neither just or unjust
You can wish, hope, pray and transform your soul to manifest your wishes. It never worked for me.
You can work hard and experience a few bad breaks, and then face a few more for no reason. The universe doesn’t right itself just because you feel wronged. Nobody keeps score to even things out.
When my business was failing, I thought a deal would come to save me. Why? Because I had worked hard and that ought to have yielded something. It never did.
Action makes things happen
Things happen when you take action. Yes, sometimes the results don’t pan out the way you hope. It’s disappointing but look at it from a different perspective.
When you fail to get the results you want, you learn a valuable piece of information. You learn what doesn’t work. Do that enough, and you eliminate all the stuff that doesn’t work. You might even stumble onto something that does.
You have two options when you reach the point of desperation: give up or take uncomfortable steps to escape it.
Unfortunately, we tend to take the same actions over and over so we fail to benefit from those miscues. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe we repeat the same mistakes because we think we’ll get different results.
We repeat the same actions because they’re comfortable; we stay inside our comfort zone.
You fall into an endless loop doing the same things, and getting the same results; you reach the point of desperation. You have two options at this stage.
Give up or take uncomfortable steps to escape it.
Why did I specify uncomfortable steps? Because you’ve already taken the easy steps, and if they had worked, you wouldn’t be in this mess.
The power of desperation
When my bank account dwindled dangerously close to zero, I knew I needed a job, and not just any job. I wanted to move back to NYC from Colorado. Back in 2005, a decent one-bedroom apartment cost $2,000 per month, and your yearly salary needed to be 45x the monthly rental. I needed a six-figure job.
I had a college degree and skills, but I had been out of the job market for two years. Blasting out resumes produced nothing. I had to rely on my network, and I couldn’t just fire off a bunch of emails and hope for the best.
I had to call people and ask them to put me in touch with hiring managers. In some cases, I had to insist. My mentor urged me not to take “no” for an answer.
I was uncomfortable with this approach, but I was desperate, so I did everything he told me to do.
A former manager of mine hooked me up with a job interview. Two weeks later, I had an offer in hand and a new lease on an apartment. Whew!
Desperation gave me the push I needed to take uncomfortable actions. It’s the most potent force for driving change. Inspiration might motivate you to want to change, but it lacks the urgency to push you past the mental obstacles.
Embrace your desperation. Use it as a tool. But first, you need to understand what desperation is. It doesn’t occur as often as you think.
Let’s break down desperation
There needs to be consequences and pain to not getting what you want. Desire isn’t enough. An empty bank account is a sure way to achieve this, but who wants the stress of going broke?
There needs to be a belief that nobody is coming to save you. The universe, deity, friend or family can’t or won’t rescue you.
You need to believe that your desperation won’t end by waiting it out. Your situation needs to feel indefinite. If you’re in a difficult situation that will go away on its own in a year, you will be tempted to live with it.
You’ve tried all the easy actions to end your situation. This leaves you with only uncomfortable choices.
That is the meaning of desperation. You feel pain because of a situation, and nobody can help you. It will never end unless you take action, but you’ve already tried the easy stuff. The remaining options create fear and angst.
Can you artificially create desperation to break out of your comfort zone?
You can but you won’t. Nobody likes to feel desperation. It hurts. The consequences of failing to curb your desperate situation can devastate your life. It’s foolish to put yourself in that situation purposely.
You CAN create a state of near desperation. It’s the next best thing.
Take advantage of your journaling practice to create this state of mind. I almost gave up on writing a few years ago. I knew I had to write about myself to gain traction, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. This exercise helped me take that first uncomfortable step.
- Write down what you want or need — this is your goal, desire or need.
- Get the easy stuff out of the way — try the obvious solutions. The sooner you get it out of the way, the sooner you come to terms with the difficult choices.
- State the consequences of failure — what happens if you fail. Without consequences, there is no urgency. Without urgency, you fall into inertia.
- Amplify the consequences — the consequences of failure must hurt to generate the necessary motivation. Create artificial but real consequences — embarrassment, shame, financial impact. When I went all in on writing, I gave up other opportunities which cost me real money. I felt the financial impact.
- Try something outside your comfort zone. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, you haven’t reached the point of near desperation. Go back to step four.