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Keep a discomfort journal

You might have heard about gratitude journals. They serve to remind us of the things we already have. But what about a journal reminding us of pushing ourselves?

We hear about going out of our comfort zone or being comfortable with discomfort, but what does it mean?

It means feeling bad because you’ve never done something before.

It means feeling strained because you’re not sure you can handle something mentally or physically.

It means fearing the judgment of others.

It means not knowing whether the choice you made was good.

Discomfort feels visceral. It’s unpleasant, but it marks precisely the edge of our ability. Discomfort means mistakes and mistakes make us learn, adapt, and survive.

Should we not then consciously keep track of the times we’ve pushed ourselves? Should we not have a log where every time we glance at it, we are reminded of the fact that we can learn, can adapt, and can survive?

I think we should.

For illustration, my discomfort journal takes the form of a Notes folder and an entry looks like this:

​5 / 6 / 18

  • learned to create a graph using d3.js

Or this:

3 / 6 / 18

  • video editing — learned how to: — add overlays to a monologue video — add a basic transition & filter

Just looking at those entries reminds me that I can do that thing and can learn more if I need to.

Every day, the world changes. New situations arise that require us to push our abilities and adapt. We need to have confidence in our ability to do so. A discomfort journal can be a great tool to reinforce that confidence.

Will you give it a try?