When you look back on 2019, don’t think of the pain you felt. Think of the strength you gained, and appreciate how far you’ve come. You’ve been through a lot in the past year, but you’ve grown a lot too. Give yourself credit for your resilience, and then step forward again with grace.
The next best step forward?
Start doing something uncomfortable today that will move your life forward in 2020. Let me explain…
Being uncomfortable is a form of pain, but it isn’t a deep pain—it’s a shallow and necessary one. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone. The idea of exercising every morning, for example, brings discomfort—so we don’t do it. Eating green vegetables brings discomfort too. So does meditating, or focusing on a difficult task, or saying no to others. Of course, these are just examples, because all of us find discomfort in different things at different times, but you get the general idea.
The bottom line is most of us don’t want to be uncomfortable, so we subconsciously run from discomfort constantly. The problem with this is that, by running from discomfort, we are forced to participate in only the (easy) activities and (unexciting) opportunities within our comfort zones. And since our comfort zones are relativity small, we miss out on most of life’s greatest and healthiest experiences, and we get stuck in an endless debilitating cycle.
Turning Things Around in 2020
Are you tired of dealing with the same types of headaches and heartache over and over again?
Then it’s time to break the cycle, purge some bad habits, and embrace discomfort as you prepare for the year ahead. It’s time to learn from your mistakes rather than be conquered by them, and let your errors be of commission rather than omission.
Remember, you ultimately become what you repeatedly do. If your habits aren’t helping you, they’re hurting you. Which means it’s time for a change.
Here are 20 uncomfortable things to start doing for yourself in the year ahead…
- Challenge your understandings and certainties. – Warren Buffett once said, “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” This is a tragedy, this kind of thinking. Don’t do it to yourself. Don’t just look for data that confirms what you already know. Be willing to be wrong in 2020. Be willing to learn in 2020. Be mindful, humble and teachable every step of the way. There’s always room for a new idea, a new perspective . . . a new beginning. Life changes every second, and so can you. Find ways to provide a healthy challenge to your current understandings of life, and you will discover and experience far more of life’s magic in the year ahead.
- Build up your confidence and your progress, one day at a time. — Start each day of 2020 with the truth: It’s not too late. You aren’t behind. You’re where you need to be. Every day and step is necessary. Don’t judge yourself for how long your journey is taking. We all need our own time to travel our own distance. Give yourself credit, and then take the next step. The present moment is always the beginning of anything you want. Yet too often we waste our time waiting for the ideal path to appear. But it never does because we forget that paths are made by walking, not waiting. And no, you shouldn’t feel more confident before you take the next step. Taking the next step is what builds your confidence and ultimately moves your life forward.
- Track how you invest your energy and make productive shifts. – To attract better outcomes in life, you have to become better on the inside. Again, you can’t do the same things and expect change. You can’t blame someone else. Take full responsibility for the next step. Start transforming your mindset. Start upgrading your habits. Your life is 90% your choice! Seriously, don’t settle! Don’t exchange what you want most for what’s easiest at the moment. Study your agendas and routines closely. Figure out where your time goes, and remove needless distractions. It’s time to focus on what really matters.
- Work diligently and consistently on meaningful goals. – When you focus your heart and mind upon a purpose, and commit yourself to fulfill that purpose through small daily steps, positive energy floods into your life. Sadly, many of us miss the mark. A few years ago when the Guardian asked a hospice nurse, Bronnie Ware, about The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, one of the most common regrets she noticed was that people regretted not being true to their goals. In fact, she said that most of the people she cared for admitted to not honoring even half of the goals that were meaningful to them, and so they ended up dying with regrets. Let this be your wake-up call! Good health brings a level of freedom and opportunity very few of us realize until we no longer have it. As they say, there are seven days in the week and “someday” isn’t one of them.
- Do the hard things. – Lose the expectation that everything in life should be easier. There are rarely shortcuts to any place worth going. Enjoy the challenge of your achievements. See the value in your efforts and be patient with yourself. And realize that patience is not just about waiting, it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your important goals. It’s knowing deep down that doing the hard things is worth it. Why? Because those are the things that ultimately define you. Those are the things that make the difference between existing and living—between knowing the path and walking the path—between a life of mediocrity and a life filled with progress and fulfillment.
- Allow yourself to be imperfectly human. – You can disappoint people and still be good enough. You can fail and still be smart, talented and capable of success. You can let people down and still be worthwhile and deserving of love and admiration. We all make mistakes sometimes. Take a deep breath. It’s OK to be human.
- Study your mistakes closely and learn from them. – Disappointments and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to the places you want to go. Again, don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. When things go wrong, learn what you can and then push the heartbreak aside by refocusing your energy on the present step. Remember that life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. We must fail in order to know, and hurt in order to grow. Good things often fall apart so better things can fall together in their place. And what’s better already is the more informed step you’re able to take right now.
- Choose a positive and effective response. – Happiness doesn’t start with a relationship, a vacation, a job or money. It starts with you. If you want life to be happier, you need to be mindful of your present response. It’s how you deal with stress in each little moment that determines how well you achieve happiness in the end.
- Directly confront the thoughts that worry you. – A tiny part of your life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances, while the vast majority of your life is decided by how you respond to them. Whenever our Getting Back to Happy course students and Think Better, Live Better conference attendees come to us feeling down about a life situation they can’t control, we typically start by reinforcing the hard truth: sometimes changing your situation isn’t possible—or simply not possible soon enough. But you CAN always choose a mindset that moves you forward. And doing so will help you change things from the inside out, and ultimately allow you to grow beyond the struggles you can’t control at any given moment. Here’s a powerful question that will support you with an attitude adjustment when you need it most: Who would you be, and what else would you see, if you removed the thought that’s worrying you?
- Learn to be more present again. – Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile often. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. You can’t connect with anyone, including yourself, unless you are undistracted and present. And you can’t be either of the two when you’re Facebooking, Instagramming or Snapchatting your life away on your smartphone. You just can’t! If you are constantly attached to your smartphone and only listening with your ears as your eyes check for the next social update, you are ripping yourself off of actually experiencing real relationships and real life. The same is true for texting too. Yes, someday you will be slapped with the reality of a missed MEMORY being far more unsettling than a missed TEXT!
- Be strict about making time for the right people. – At some point, when it comes to relationships, you’ll just want to be around the few people who make you smile for all the right reasons. So be intentional about spending more quality time with those who help you love yourself more. And remember that nothing you can give them will ever be more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention—your full presence. Truly being with them, and listening without a clock and without anticipation of the next event, is the highest form of compliment.
- Choose yourself, too. – You won’t always be a priority to others, and that’s why you have to be a top priority to yourself. Learn to respect yourself, take care of yourself, and become your own support system. Love yourself first and foremost every day, instead of simply loving the idea of other people loving you. Your needs matter. Start meeting them. Don’t wait on others to choose you—choose yourself! And remember that once your needs are met, you will be better equipped and capable of meeting the needs of those few people who matter most to you. (We discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of our NY Times bestselling book.)
- Invest in your health. – There’s no getting around it: no matter how much you think you dislike exercise and healthy eating, both will make you feel better in the long run. If you don’t have your physical energy tuned up, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected. In fact, did you know that recent studies conducted on people who were battling depression showed that consistent exercise combined with a healthy diet raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Even better, six months later the people who participated in this exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.
- Walk away from the drama you feel inclined to engage in. – Say less when less means more. Sometimes, you are as wise as the silence you leave behind, because sometimes the right words aren’t words. Deep down you know this is true. Live accordingly. Do your best not to judge other people, for you do not know their pain or sorrows. If you cannot speak a kind word, say nothing at all. And if they cannot speak a kind word, say nothing at all. Enjoy the inner glow you get from letting go and not engaging in drama. When you no longer waste your energy worrying about things that don’t evolve you, everything gradually changes. You stop doing the wrong things, and the right things suddenly have a chance to catch up with you.
- Say “no” when you need to. – Saying “yes” to everything puts you on the fast track to a regretful existence. Feeling like you’re constantly busy and overwhelmed is typically the result of saying “yes” to too often. We all have obligations, but a healthy, effective pace can only be found by properly managing your yeses. So stop saying “yes” when you want to say “no.” You can’t always be agreeable; that’s how people and situations take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to set clear boundaries.
- Distance yourself from hurtful relationships. – One of the absolute hardest parts of loving someone: you have to give things up because of them. And sometimes you even have to give them up. Of course, it’s difficult to distance yourself from someone you care about (or cared about) without getting hurt in the process. Even if this person has hurt you a hundred times, you start thinking of all these “what ifs”—these “maybes” about the future. But that’s just the thing, there’s nothing concrete and reliable about these fantasies. The reality of this person’s consistent actions has disproven them. When someone shows you their true colors time and time again, it’s best to believe them and distance yourself. (We discuss this in more detail in the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Forgive the people who don’t necessarily deserve it. – Distance yourself, but don’t forget them; forgive them. Forgetting about the people who hurt you is your gift to them; forgiving the people who hurt you is your gift to yourself. Let this sink in. You need to forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness at the moment, but because you deserve peace of mind going forward. And also keep in mind that some relationships will temporarily split, only to heal and grow back together over time. Forgiveness alone makes this possible, if it’s meant to be.
- Find joy in less. – People who spend all their time trying to make money, spend all their money trying to make time. Don’t do this to yourself. Remind yourself that the richest human isn’t the one who has the most, but the one who needs less. Wealth is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more today. Challenge yourself to be less impressed by the things you own, and be more impressed by the life you live. You are incredibly fortunate to be experiencing this moment right here, right now. And the more you appreciate it, the better it will be. (Read The Minimalist Home in the New Year—it’s a true game-changer.)
- Say “goodbye” so you can say “hello.” – Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it. When people and circumstances close their doors on you, it’s a hint that your personal growth requires someone different and something more. Life is simply making room. So embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive in life sets you up for an important “hello.”
- Start over again, and again. – No one wins a game of chess by only moving forward; sometimes you have to move backward to put yourself in a position to win. Think about how this relates to your life. Sometimes when it feels like you’re running into one dead end after another, it’s actually a sign that you’re not on the right path. Maybe you were meant to hang a left back when you took a right, and that’s perfectly fine. Life gradually teaches us that U-turns are allowed. So turn around when you must! There’s a big difference between giving up and starting over in the right direction. And there are three little words that can release you from your past mistakes and regrets, and get you back on track in the year ahead. These words are: “From now on…”
Your 2020 Daily Challenge
I sincerely hope you found value in the reminders above. No doubt, they are important to think about. But right now, with 2020 literally knocking hard at the door, these reminders are even more important to act upon. And since taking action is where most of us get hung up, let me ask you a few quick questions…
- How many times in the past year has the psychological draw of comfort plagued your best intentions?
- How many workouts have you missed in the past year because your mind, not your body, told you that you were too tired?
- How many workout reps have you skipped in the past year because your mind, not your body, said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth”?
In the past year alone the answer to all three questions is probably dozens for most people, including myself. And obviously these questions can be slightly tweaked and applied to various areas of our lives too. The bottom line is that weakness of the mind combined with lack of action devastates our potential. When we avoid discomfort, nothing worthwhile gets done. And the only way to fix this predicament is daily practice.
Your mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked on a daily basis to grow. If you haven’t pushed yourself in lots of small ways over time—if you always avoid doing the uncomfortable things—you’ll almost certainly crumble on the inevitable days that are harder than you expected. (Note: Angel and I build small, uncomfortable, life-changing daily habits with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy course.)
So, my challenge to you in 2020 is this:
Choose to go to the gym when it would be more comfortable to sleep in. Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be more comfortable to quit at nine. Choose to create something special when it would be more comfortable to consume something mediocre. Choose to raise your hand and ask that extra question when it would be more comfortable to stay silent. Choose to stand your ground when it would be more comfortable to fit in. Just keep proving to yourself, in lots of little ways every day, that you have the guts to get in the ring and wrestle with life. And reference the list of 20 above anytime you feel like you’re slipping off track.
Please leave a comment below and let us know:
Which point above resonates the most with you right now?
Anything else to share about this article, or your plans for 2020?
We would love to hear from YOU.
Also, we recently released our NEW podcast, THINK BETTER, LIVE BETTER (yes, it shares the title of our annual live event). You can listen to the first 7 episodes on your favorite podcast player right now (M&A on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts).
Finally, our next annual Think Better, Live Better conference is taking place February 8-9, 2020 in San Diego. We just released 5 more discounted early bird tickets that are still available right now (while they last).
Point #2 is really speaking to me at the moment. And yes, Marc and Angel, I’m one you may think got away or dropped out, but I’m still here and still reading you. I didn’t follow up for our fourth one to one call even though I paid for it, but I feel very happy with the value I got from the first three calls and your course. As you know my recent journey has been sooo challenging and interesting, but I’m making progress one day at a time like you say. Anyhow, you two are inspiring. I agree so much with your insights. Thanks for helping me make progress this past year, and cheers to 2020.
Bless you and all your readers x
I really appreciate the way you frame this post around the concept of doing uncomfortable things in life. And your 4th point on doing the hard things really reinforced the whole premise of this article in my mind. Yes, I avoid uncomfortable, hard things all the time, and most of the time they are tasks or actions that would absolutely move my life a step in the right direction.
Overall, M&A, thank you for these reminders. Your course coaching and teachings continue to improve my mindset and quality of life. I will see you two in San Diego at Think Better Live Better 2020! I just got tickets for me and my daughter. I thought about going last year, but discomfort scared me off. Not this time though! 🙂 Happy New Year!
Olga Gonzalez says
This past summer my sister bought me your new book, which is how I found your amazing blog. And now here I am six months later, finally leaving you a comment to say THANK YOU. I’ve been an avid reader of your emails and blog ever since, and I’ve even gone through your Getting to Happy course, and this past year has honestly been one of the most productive years for my mental heath and wellness. I think your point #6 here is a perfect, super-quick summary that relates directly to the deep changes and shifts I’ve made this year.
Thank you, again, Marc and Angel. And thank you to everyone who comments regularly here. I get a lot from what’s shared.
Homeschool mom says
Back in July, I quit my well paying job in corporate world, moved to my parents retirement home in the mountains and embarked on a journey of homeschooling my kids for a year. It’s been an unforgettable experience through and through, and most of the points mentioned in your article resonate so well with me! I’m a very determined person and I just knew that corp America wasn’t my thing. Now I’m on a path of figuring out what I want to do when I grow up.
For the record, I haven’t missed many workouts in 2019, that’s something that I stick to religiously, and I’ve been doing lots of running and working out on my own. Clearly, it’s something that I am passionate about, and I’m thinking of how I can incorporate it into my future profession/calling!
Happy early holiday season and new year, and keep on sending these great emails and blog posts!
Totally agree with you on #3!
Taking small daily steps is probably what helped me the most with procrastination regarding my fitness, writing and decluttering goals.
I think we underestimate the power that small daily action has towards our goals because we’re always thinking BIG and that we have to do BIG things to get to our goals.
But that’s not the case.
If you save a dollar a day, you’ll get $1095 in 3 years.
If you write 50 words a day, you’ll get 54 750 words which is about 150 pages in 3 years.
If you throw 1 un-used item a day, you would have thrown 1095 items in 3 years.
Small daily action adds up over time and builds momentum, people!
Another fabulous post. I can relate to all the points but number 16 strikes a nerve with me. I have spent too long hanging on and hoping that the man I love will change and come and get me. He won’t … “The reality of this person’s consistent actions has disproven them. When someone shows you their true colors time and time again, it’s best to believe them and distance yourself “
Thank you M & A so much for your words which help fix me. x
Dr Ramona Srinivasan says
Thank you for your efforts to inspire and improve the quality of life of all your readers. Comfort is a relative concept. It requires courage to change the course of lives of people!
Keep up the good work, and keep on accumulating good karma!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful messages to reflect 11 hours before 2020 here in the Philippines. I’m deeply touched when you say “It’s time to focus on what really matters.”
Latha ravindra says
So in the next few hours 2019 is going to end and we all will be heading towards a new year i.e., 2020 , and all I wish is for may this year be filled with joy ,prosperity , good luck , good health and adventures for all of us . May this year be interesting as our past years . May this year be a opening to new things in all our lives. Let’s hope that this year we make good resolutions and try to keep our resolutions alive among ourselves .
But I have no idea about what this year may bring into our lives but I wish all of us to not repeat our past mistakes and try to be honest , modest , ambitious , hard working, courageous and spectacular in whatever we do in lives in the future . And most importantly let’s all of us never lose hope and faith in anything . let’s thank all those in our lives who were there with us in our problems , made us smile in tough situations and standing by us no matter what, so a big thank you to all of you who stood by us . Let’s thank God for he has protected and taken care of us for many years and may he always shower this grace upon all of us .
SO THEREFORE ENDING THIS LONG PARAGRAPH BY WISHING ALL OF YOU IN THE WORLD A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020
Barbara Caleta says
I’m writing a comment for the first time, after years of following your page, thoughts and philosophy and all I can say is THANK YOU – even the fact that I personally don’t know you guys, doesn’t beat the fact that everything you write here really helped me.
My story goes something like this: I’ll be 30 this year and I’ve been on a battlefield of sadness, hurt, pain, self-hate and other negative emotions for ages,actually, almost my whole life. My parents had a bad marriage, often followed by domestical violence, and my father not being there for me (at all), made a void inside of me – a constant feeling of being hurt, betrayed, not loved enough,not good enough, ugly and f***ed up (sorry about cursing, but it’s a brutal truth), and it left me in so much FEAR – actually fear from everything, life itself also. Fear that I am never gonna be happy because I have this darkness inside of me (which I didn’t choose), feeling that one day I’ll maybe meet the same man such as my father, and so on.
I left my parents home (I can even say just “home”) 3 years ago, and moved to another state with my beloved one, a beautiful man who knows me since I was 15, we were friends for a long time, and then, there was love. I have a nice home with him,a decent job and a kind group of friends. I still feel rejected all the time,because of the lack of communication with my parents, but today, on this last day of 2019 I realized – this moment comes only once in a lifetime; this life of mine too. The whole last year I’ve been so bad towards myself,and my relationship(s) suffered as well because of my past. Because of the things that happened to me. I came to my senses and realize that I can’t change that, those previous situations, and I can’t change other people and their circumstances. I can just be BETTER VERSION OF MYSELF. And this year, I want to INVEST in myself – practice what I preach; I want to do all of the things from your list, but not because it’s a another New Years Resolution List – I want to live on those rules because those are also things that I want, that’s the life I want – that’s me,trying every day of 2020 to be focused, mindfull, present, thankfull, peacefull, kind, active and loving. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, you helped me in so many ways to go one step further, and I wish the same things to you too? Happy 2020, and I’ll be still following these wonderfull pages?
Matt Stiefvater says
Thank you so much for this list of reminders of how to live life to the fullest!
Happy New Year and good Heth to you
I really appreciate you it’s really helped me to change my life. Thank you . Happy new year I wish happiness. Successful. Peace mind and peace of haert 2020????
Thanks guys this is what i needed for my 2020. I am going to take full charge of my life and be present in evry moment
Kathy J Janata says
I’m really inspired by this article..20 uncomfortable things.. i shared it with several others. A perfect spring board forcthe new year. I look forward to more great tips from you!
Steve A. Hubbard says
#17 for sure! But I am too close to the pain to forgive and forget consistently. It is my goal for the reasons you stated. Thanks! I really enjoy your posts.
Teresa Widmark says
Number 13 is big for me! I’ll turn 65 tomorrow and needed to be reminded to make it a habit to exercise and eat healthier foods. I know I will feel better once I do this on a regular basis. Thanks for the reminders!
Sabita Challinger says
From now on I will be strong enough to say NO. To do favours to others when I am in pain but too embarrassed to decline. Reading your daily emails have helped me in my personal relationship
. I have not cried for a while. I wish to be healthier to hold our grandson n stop buying silly presents for my daughter n annoy her as she does need them but I am an impulse giver,them get upset. Trying to get stronger in this domain as I love my daughters so deeply ……xxxx Thank you for being my Angels. I aim to do more exercises n yoga n look after myself. Welcoming 2020 Happy new year to all your followers n You xxxhig hugs from UK.xxx
Angie Emde says
Many of the points speak to me. Number 2 especially as I get stuck in learning mode yet with confidence I should progress and start the business I want to start. Also, the point on health as I’ve chosen health as my word for 2020.