I love my Peloton bike. My husband bought me one for Mother’s Day because he loves how happy and energized I am after a great spin workout. When I get off the bike, I feel what runners describe as a “high.” It is an inexplicable experience of anxiety slipping away, time standing still, a sense that all things are possible, and a gentle quietness in my soul. While this may sound overly dramatic or just plain crazy, it is real for me. This is what I ride for.
A spin workout is intense, which is key to the overall experience. Even though I don’t actually go anywhere, I shed buckets of sweat as if I just finished a hill climb segment of the Tour de France.
One of the Peloton instructors I follow is Matt Wilpurs. Matt loves to talk about his training experiences. He runs; he swims; he competes in all sorts of events from marathons to triathalons. And since he has anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to fill as he leads the class (it’s up to us riders how long we want to ride), he shares his experience to encourage us on our way.
During a particularly challenging interval set, Matt talked about the importance of “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Physical strength increases only when the stress of weight is put on the muscles. Our cardiovascular capacity increases only when we increase the amount of oxygen our body needs by elevating the intensity of exercise. Our mind has to decide to push our bodies through the feeling of being uncomfortable to get stronger.
I realized that pursuing my unique call also requires that I get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s because the Life Design process forces me to choose between what Andrew Mellen calls “ineffective familiarity” and “effective unfamiliarity.”
Ineffective familiarity means that there are familiar patterns and habits that each of us has developed, but they do not necessarily support us in effectively achieving our goals. Maybe you turn on the television after dinner instead of writing a few pages of the book you dream of publishing. Maybe you hit the snooze button until it is too late to get that workout in before you leave for work. Maybe you get lost on Instagram or Facebook instead of playing a game with your children. There are lots of patterns and habits that can be described as ineffective familiarity.
Moving to effective unfamiliarity—learning unfamiliar patterns that will help us live more effectively—is challenging. Doing something new before we have the muscles built to support it is uncomfortable. For example, several times our family has moved to a new community. The first few months were really tiring because everything had to be relearned. Simple things like finding my way to the grocery store and learning where on the shelves to find bread and milk took great effort. The simplest rote tasks were no longer on autopilot; instead, they drained my energy, and there is only so much energy to draw on in a given day. But effectiveness required effort to get through the unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
The journey of life design is like practicing living in a new place. When you begin to map the way forward to the person you are called to be and the dreams you long to fulfill, the effort it requires can be strenuous. The new patterns and disciplines you name and begin to exercise become the effective unfamiliarity that generates breakthrough. It is intense like a hill climb in one of my Peloton workouts. And that is why we need to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable so we don’t forfeit growth by taking it easy.
See, indoor spin cycles of all brands put you in control of the experience. There is a “red knob” that allows you to add resistance to the wheel, which demands that your leg muscles work harder. How much harder is up to you. So the first time you begin pushing up a hill on a spin ride, if you are anything like me, you immediately start to look for relief. When are we going to reach the virtual top and coast down the other side? I am alone in my basement. No one is going to notice if I just turn that knob to the left and make it a bit easier. Water is really important; maybe this is a good time to take a break and hydrate.
It is human to look for ways to decrease discomfort. That is the value of a trainer. When the Peloton instructor counts down the time, I am reminded this won’t last forever. The “leaderboard” reminds me that there are plenty of other people who are powering through this temporary discomfort, which ignites the competitor in me to keep going. Thinking forward to the scoop of ice cream that enjoy each night after dinner motivates me to finish strong.
One of the founding aspirations of Younique is to make Gospel-Centered Life Design available to every believer. Just as a trainer in a physical workout keeps you focused and on track, Younique Coaches are there to encourage you and to remind you of the goal you have that is worth the effort. Just like the scoop of ice cream that is even more delicious after a hard workout, you will relish your precious dream will be relished because of the work you put into achieving it.
You may be thinking about Younique and wondering if the time commitment is worth it given all the demands at work and what is needed from you at home. You may also be a little scared that you might have to revisit painful episodes in your life or relationships that remain broken; grief is always liable to resurface when we tell our story. Yet Younique is designed to guide you through the uncomfortable in a way that is fruitful, worshipful, and purpose-filled. Each tool and activity is carefully constructed to help you see, redeem, and grow stronger on the way to your best for what is next.
So get uncomfortable. You can move past preferring the comfort of what you know to the discomfort of change. There is no way to enjoy the beauty and thrill of the mountaintop experience without the hill climb. No question it will hurt on the way up. But we can learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, redirecting energy from anxiety to productivity. Our exertions will turn into steps toward the dream God has for our lives. We get stronger, more confident, and healthier from the effort. And most of all, we learn that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Send me your stories of getting uncomfortable and the growth you are experiencing at firstname.lastname@example.org. #getuncomfortable