Comfort is a Lie

by Don Smith

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I was in the gym on Saturday, and Jeremy, my trainer, told me to do dips.

“Give me three sets of ten. And for each one I see that you don't go all the way down; you can do another ten.”


I knew what he meant; the last time I did dips, I cheated myself by not going down all the way. It's easier and more comfortable that way, and the sign says to do it within a comfortable range of motion. Unfortunately, my comfortable range of motion isn't what the picture shows with a bad shoulder. I kept my mouth shut and did the dips correctly.

Lower Yourself Within a Comfortable Range of Motion

I've learned not to talk back to Jeremy when I'm still on the equipment because that can sometimes turn into extra reps, but after I was done, I decided to harass him a bit.

“The sign on the dip machine says to go down within a COMFORTABLE range of motion. That ain't comfortable.”

“Comfort is a lie,” came the quick response.

I knew what he meant. I'd never make progress if I tried to stay comfortable in the gym. If I didn't make myself uncomfortable, that range of motion would never be comfortable.

Comfort is a lie because the more you seek it, the farther away it gets!

You can lay around all day, every day, but eventually, that gets uncomfortable, especially if you get yourself to the point where you CAN'T do anything.

You will never be comfortable with public speaking unless you force yourself to get uncomfortable and practice speaking.

You can stop doing uncomfortable things at work, but you're likely to become uncomfortable when you stop getting raises or get fired.

You can try to be more comfortable by not going out to meet people, but you're likely to get uncomfortable when you realize you have no friends.

Comfort is a lie.

Short-term discomfort increases long-term comfort.

If I want those dips to be comfortable for the full range of motion my body is capable of, I need to get uncomfortable in the short term, and then I'll need to stay a little uncomfortable to increase my strength.

If you want something to change in your life, you'll need to get uncomfortable until it does, and then you'll need to stay a little uncomfortable to continue to improve.

Sometimes we all need a little nudge to get outside our comfort zone. That's what Jeremy does for me as a personal trainer.

Coasting downhill is fun until you have to pedal back uphill.

Just like riding a bike, it's good to take breaks from work occasionally. Enjoy coasting along with the wind in your face after pedaling furiously to get up to speed. Just remember that the only time you can coast for an extended period in life is when you're going downhill, and trudging back up the hill later isn't likely to be too comfortable.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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