Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Outside Your Comfort Zone
(I'm staring you down and asking you to get uncomfortable)
Another in my life-coaching inspirational series to ignite my readers to live to their potential. The last post was “Screw the Box” about living outside the box. Today, it's about living outside your comfort zone.
I know the only thing stopping me is my own mind.
I was way too long in a bad marriage and terrified of the unknown. I had never lived on my own my entire life, didn't even know how to begin. My ex had total control of everything, so that I had never so much as paid for a bill before. How was I going to make it on my own? And living alone? How the hell was I going to live all by myself? It sounded so lonely!
A dear friend pointed out that I was already going to bed hours after he did, waking up with him already at work, working on my own from my home office, eating supper before he came home, watching him go off into the home office and ignore me all evening long and on weekends playing in a band and running around town doing chores and avoiding me all together. In other words, I was an expert at living alone. And, it is exceedingly more uncomfortable being alone with someone there.
So far as the managing bills and the mechanics of living on one's own, I had a high IQ, wasn't lazy, learned things easily, took my responsibilities seriously. I was actually going to ace that easily.
It meant leaving my comfort zone for sure, but my comfort zone wasn't all that comfortable. I hated it and every day I grieved the life I was stuck having to live out and almost wishing I didn't have a long lifespan if this was the way the rest of it would be. He controlled the finances, the vacations, where we lived, how we lived, how the house was kept, how the meals were made, and even how my body should look. It wasn't my life, it was HIS life.
Recently watching an episode of “Biggest Loser,” I smiled when Jilian the trainer pushed people to run faster on their treadmills and told them, “yes, you can go faster!” They didn't think they could, but she taught them otherwise.
Think of all the other things you think can't do? You have to push past that uncomfortable moment to find your true worth and earn your own respect. You never respect yourself when you ride under the radar and do what's comfortable and routine and don't ask more.
Discomfort means you are alive. Every loss of a loved one I experienced, every new task I had to take on, every growth period in my life was awkward, hard, painful, agonizing, full of insecurity and anguish and resulted in the most growth! I'm not proud of myself for the easy and happy things I experienced, I am proud of myself for what I survived and thrived in spite of.
Magic never happens in the comfort zone, I assure you! Growth does not happen there. Reaching one's life dreams doesn't happen there. Self-assurance and confidence do not blossom from that wellspring.
You know those electric invisible fences for dogs so that if they pass by the limits of the yard, they get zapped? Imagine your comfort zone as having that parameter. Now, think of someone you admire greatly. Does that person live within their yard's invisible boundaries? The only thing shocking about leaving the comfort zone is that you didn't do it sooner.
“What would you do if you were guaranteed you wouldn't fail?”
I love that saying. It is hung up on the corkboard of inspiration I keep in my living room to look at daily. That should be the way you treat every day of your life. What's the worst that could happen if you don't succeed? You're back where you are now, comfortable and predictable.
The comfort zone is a very small part of your world. Your world has no limits when you step outside of that comfort zone. It's all possibilities. When I used to look at my life and say “I will always be stuck in this godawful desert,” I had just limited my world to my ex's comfort zone. Now, I can say, “where do you want to live?” People in the comfort zone often lament the things they didn't do, didn't achieve, failed at. Every day is a slow grieving process for what could have been.
Every day, force yourself out of your comfort zone in any way that makes you uncomfortable because with that discomfort and having achieved this deed, you just gained confidence that your limits are broader than you thought, the lines are blurred, there are no boundaries. Importantly, you learn that you truly can handle anything that comes your way so some day when something awful confronts you, you'll know that you've handled other things, you can handle this.
Some ways to test your comfort zone?
Take the route to work that means lots of left hand turns or the freeway if that makes you more uncomfortable.
Go to lunch at a new place you have never gone before and go alone.
Go inside a Quick Mart and ask directions to someplace, even if you know the route.
Be the first to raise your hand and offer an answer to a question or a contribution at a meeting.
Strike up a conversation with a stranger in a waiting room.
Finish some project you intended to do but kept putting off, if it's losing weight, fixing your vintage car or sewing a quilt.