“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald Walsch
I love that quote. It’s simple yet powerful.
In fact, it is so simple it is easy to fly right by. It has enough intuitive sense you can read it and nod in affirmation without really connecting to the message.
However, connecting to the power takes effort. Making it a reality is another animal all together. Answer these questions for yourself:
- Do you know where the “edge of your comfort zone” is?
- If not – have you tried to find it?
- If yes, when was the last time you deliberately put yourself there?
- How long has it been since you blew right by the “edge” and willingly jumped smack into middle of discomfort and fear?
- More than a week? More than a month? More than a year?
I find it interesting how many want to improve his/her “lot in life”, but don’t embrace (or endure) the discomfort, fear and anxiety associated with real change.
You rationalize – “No one likes change.” or “It’s not really worth it.” or “Who am I to complain – I have it better than most.” or the more cynical retort – “Why bother?” Whatever the phrase – the net result is the same – you stay glued well within your comfort zone!
My premise is this – instead of staying planted in “comfort,” make a point to get familiar with and/or used to your “discomfort zone.” Get to know how it works, what it feels like and how you react to it. Doing so helps ensure you manage discomfort when it really counts.
Put differently, if don’t take regular trips to the edge of your comfort zone with easy stuff, you aren’t likely to venture there on the big stuff.
Consider the following examples of “easy” stuff to use for practice:
- Visit new restaurants and try new types of food
- Purposefully meet new people
- Talk to strangers while standing in line
- Answer a question in School
- Ask someone out on a date
- Volunteer for a special project at work
- Spend time mentoring a troubled kid
- Go on an amusement ride that scares you
The point is this – find situations at the edge of your comfort zone (or slightly in your ‘discomfort zone.’) Take “practice” trips to the edge. Get used to the sensation. Challenge your avoidance techniques. Push through your resistance. In general – get used to the edge such that you don’t work so hard to avoid it.
If successful, you become better prepared for the “big trips”.
Here are examples of what many would consider much more “discomfortable” – well beyond the edge. These create fear and trepidation for many (but have large potential benefits as well).
- Try for a promotion
- Leave your company for a new job
- Start to date again after a divorce or death
- Launch your own venture or business
- Join a new organization
- Take a leadership role in a not-for-profit
- Adopt a child
- Take a sabbatical and live abroad
- Teach a Sunday School class
- Challenge a boss in a meeting
- Move your family to another state or country
- Quit school/work and pursue your passion
These are the types of situations where big things happen. Jumping into these scenarios is where “life begins……”. Too many don’t experience it because you won’t leave your comfort zone.
Do the Work:
- Get familiar with your comfort zone. Push the edge with “little” situations as often as you can.
- Find your boundaries, experience the sensation when you cross it. Embrace the experience such that it loses its’ power and intimidation.
- Take regular trips across your edge – get familiar with the discomfort; build your confidence; recognize many of the fears are irrational.
- Prepare for a “big one” – be honest with yourself and identify something you are not doing because it is way outside your comfort zone. Make a commitment to jump into it sometime this year.
- Journal weekly trips outside of your comfort zone – partner with your significant other and do it as a team. Blow up the “do not disturb sign!”
If you want to take a Deliberate Journey you are likely to venture beyond your comfort zone. For me, I have yet to be disappointed when I rip off the do not disturb sign and jump in. Give it a try!