When you are invited into someone’s home or business, they often try to make you feel at ease by stating “make yourself comfortable.” Well, I have a different theory…make yourself uncomfortable.

What I mean is every time you want to take the comfortable seat, the well-worn path, or the regular routine, shake yourself up by doing something outside your comfort zone. We are creatures of habit…and will repeat behaviors and habits until we literally get stuck in a rut. For example, have people enter a room and take a seat in a classroom or conference room. Have them sit there for a few minutes, and then ask them to leave the room, come back and take a seat again. Almost everyone will return and sit in the exact same seat. Why? Even though they were in that room for just a few minutes, it suddenly became their seat and their territory.

I challenge you to do something different every day to make yourself a bit uncomfortable. Sit in a different seat of the room. Take a different route home from work. Try a new ethnic restaurant. Have lunch with someone who isn’t your regular lunch buddy. Talk to someone on the bus or airplane seat next to you. Take on a new project or responsibility where you have no experience. Why? Because you will grow, and change, and expand your horizons just by exposing yourself to something new. Change brings opportunity, and opportunity can bring great rewards or unique experiences.

When I look back on my life, the times where I took the greatest risk, or became the most uncomfortable brought the greatest ultimate rewards. For instance, just by chance, we found our dream home – a Spanish adobe on a large piece of undeveloped land. We needed to quickly place an offer or risk losing it. So we pulled all the equity of our current home (which was not even listed for sale yet!), placed the required down payment and paid full price for the house of our dreams. We paid 3 mortgages for 4 months until our older home finally sold. That was more than a little bit uncomfortable, it was downright scary. However, by taking that risk, we now live in our dream house where we raised our children and created vineyards, a winery and horse ranch. Those 4 months of being uncomfortable were nothing compared to the years of enjoyment that we have shared in this home. Another uncomfortable moment? When I left my “safe” government job after 20+ years. But five years later, I have more free time, higher income, had the ability to travel and enjoying my life more than ever. It was scary leaving a job with a steady paycheck, benefits and comfortable setting…but it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Many of us can look back on our lives and can pinpoint uncomfortable moments which ultimately propelled us in a new direction. Often, it becomes a much better path for our lives. When you get too comfortable, your life can become stagnant or stale, and you can miss some great opportunities. Richard Branson is a guy who makes himself uncomfortable a lot, and has pushed more boundaries than most…creating a world-class airline, Virgin Airlines, and ventures into worlds of business that only others can dream of. Branson once stated “We are all surrounded by fortuitous opportunity. The difference between me and everyone else is that I STRIKE when it comes my way. ” Next time someone offers to “make yourself comfortable,” choose instead a path of discomfort to grow yourself and your life.