I made a promise to myself in December. My goal was not only to create and grow a business but to grow myself as well. As a result of that I committed to myself that once a week I will seek an experience that really pushes me out of my comfort zone. And as an added challenge, it cannot be the same experience each time. So each week I seek out an activity, event, or situation which makes me want to shrink into a tiny ball and stay home in a blanket. Do you know what I am discovering? To go a little Disney on you, a whole new world! I am doing things I have never done before, that I was terrified to do, and I am not spontaneously combusting. Shocking, I know. In fact each week I see growth in myself, I see my behavior and my perspectives changing in ways I hoped for but never imagined would actually happen. I was always envious of people who could go out dancing by themselves. Or go to an event without a buddy. Or have a picture taken of themselves and not feel like cringing. They seemed like Valkyries to me, powerful beings not at the effect of the flux of life. What I wanted was to wake up one day and just BE that person, I wanted someone to hand that to me without having to work for it. When I write that all out it is apparent how ridiculous that thought is. I am big into self development and discipline, where did I get the idea that someone just giving me some confidence was a reasonable thing? That is a perfect example of how we get in our own way. This week my challenge to you is to get out of your own way, get out of your comfort zone, and do something you have never done!
Adventure never happens inside our comfort zone. By that same measure neither does growth. So if your goal is to feel safe, non adventurous, and small, then by all means snuggle up in that comfort zone. It fits you perfectly, like your favorite sweater. Recognize however that while people may pass through your comfort zone you will rarely engage with them in a real way, because they have place to go and things to do. The comfort zone is not an actualized, aware way of living. It is a place to heal, perhaps lick your wounds from your last bull ride, and then stand up and move forward from. Pushing your level of comfort feels like a lot of things. Worry, anxiety, the desire to throw up and run away. Worrying is like making a bet against yourself. Why in the world would you do that?
Imagine your comfort zone like a personal bubble that surrounds you at all times. It is your personal zone of influence. You affect things within that space and conversely those things within that space reach out and touch you too. So when something or someone enters our zone of influence without permission or simply when we are not ready that personal bubble will contract. Sometimes you can almost see the energy of a person who is having their comfort zone violated draw inward. This is a protection method we have developed since we were children. It is how we make ourselves feel safe and small. If we pull away from the new person or experience they cannot injure us. Conversely that same bubble of comfort can expand, shift and envelope a new person or experience. This can happen when we go on a date with someone we like for the first time, when we walk into room filled with strangers, or when we begin a conversation about a tricky topic. So what is the difference in these two reactions? It is intention!
I want you to think about your intention next time you feel like putting on your comfort zone blanket. Next time you are venture out to an event alone and are positive that no one wants to talk to you, check your zone. What does it feel like at that moment? So my challenge to you is: Once this week I want you to put yourself outside your comfort zone in a big way. If you are terrified to talking to women, I want you to sign up for speed dating. If you would rather be lit on fire before walk into a room filled with folks you do not know, then I want you to get online and find a meetup group about a topic you really dig. The thing is I do not just want you to go do this scary thing filled with fear and resentment, I want you to check your intention and have an amazing time.
When you get to your event or situation and you find your comfort zone beginning to feel a little stretched I want you to ask yourself two things. First: “What do I want to feel right now?” This is a reminder first that you do get a choice in what you feel and how to respond. Next decide what that feeling you are going to cultivate is going to be. Got it? Now I want you to ask yourself: “What is a more supportive action I can take at this moment?” This brings choice to mind yet again but as a reminder than you are not just reacting to stuff that happens to you. You are not floating on the tides of the world like a twig. You are a mighty viking sailing toward a new land and you know exactly what you are doing!
The method I have given you here works. I use it all the time to shift the attitude or behavior of myself and clients. The trick is you have to practice. You cannot push the comfort zone one time and suddenly be the viking you always dreamed of being. You have to keep doing this. You must practice. Breaking habits is difficult especially when they are related to that which makes us feel safe and the ego unperturbed. However the life that lies on the other side of that comfort zone is so worth it.