Staying in your comfort zone means stagnation. Just as an oyster only makes a pearl when it’s irritated by a grain of sand, no one has ever accomplished anything remarkable when comfortable. These 10 uncomfortable things could see you break even in your pursuit for success.

1. Get up early. Unless you’re a morning person, getting up earlier than usual can take you way out of your comfort zone. However, if you get up well before you have to start getting ready for work, it’s worth it. It gives you an opportunity to collect your thoughts and mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead, rather than just dashing from one activity to another. It also gives you the opportunity to eat a good breakfast and exercise, both of which have well-known health benefits.

2. Accomplish an “impossible” goal. Few things compare to the exhilaration of accomplishing something that you didn’t think you were capable of. These achievements fall so far outside of your comfort zone that they seem impossible. Maybe it’s running a marathon or giving a keynote speech at a convention. These accomplishments are worth every bit of suffering you endure to achieve them because once you finally do it, you feel invincible and carry that triumph with you forever.

3. Meditate. It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone when you’re so busy that you don’t slow down enough to really think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Meditation is a great way to break this cycle and also happens to be very good for your brain. Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar found that meditation creates important physical changes in your brain. It increases brain density in areas responsible for self-control, focus, problem-solving, flexibility and resilience. Best of all, these changes are lasting.

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4. Focus on one thing at a time. Focusing completely on a single task is a big risk — the risk of failing at something to which you’ve given your all. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable. The alternative — multitasking — is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully. When you spread yourself too thin and chase after every bright, shiny thing that catches your eye, you’re missing out on an important opportunity for personal growth.

5. Volunteer. It would be great if everyone volunteered for purely altruistic reasons, but we all have demands on our time and have to set priorities. The problem is that after a long workday, volunteering can get pushed down somewhere below watching “epic fail” videos on YouTube. Volunteering is a powerful experience that feels good and expands your network at the same time. Have you ever met anyone who made volunteering a priority and wasn’t changed for the better by the experience? Neither have I.

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