Aim for productive discomfort

Things are easy when they're familiar. Things get hard when they're unfamiliar. Straddle the two zones just right, and you'll find immense joy, whilst simultaneously wanting to crawl back into bed.

A dot straddling between two circular zones, known and unknown

This is what people mean by ‘get out of your comfort zone’. But the difficulty has to be just so, that it feels rewarding. Too easy and the reward doesn’t push us. Too hard and you flail, panic and give up. It helps to combine the familiar with the unfamiliar.

When we’re introduced to new concepts, they are easier to absorb when they’re demonstrated with something we’re already familiar with:

  • Familiarity + familiar = comfort / stasis
  • Unfamiliarity + familiar = discomfort / progression 👈
  • Unfamiliarity + unfamiliar = anxiety / confusion