Overcoming Fear and Leaving the Comfort Zone
We All Have Our Fears and Doubts
Should we go for that new job? Should we change jobs and take the chance on a new one? Are we good enough to be able to compete? What will our family or our friends say? Maybe they will discourage us and say that we don’t have what it takes. Maybe we fear that we will fail or worse, that we will succeed and then what? Our school experience may have taught us that if we don’t measure up, it is no use trying and we should just stick to what we are able to do.
I have to say that I was this way for a long time. I would have intermittent sparks of “I can do this” and then “reality” would bring me down to a level playing ground and I would settle down to doing regular, normal things, living according to (my and others’) expectations. In fact, I had often dreamed of writing and speaking in front of audiences. This very blog was supposed to have been started about 10 years ago, but I just put it off because I believed that I was not technologically savvy enough to get it off the ground. But here I am, 10 years later, doing what I always believed I could do.
Fear Is So Debilitating
Fear can paralyze us and doubt, which is a family member of fear, literally convinces us to stay where we are. How many times in our lives do we allow fear to keep us from doing what we would really love to do, from something that we would be so passionate about?
Our Comfort Zone Is Too Comfortable
Apathy: A common human tendency to seek a comfort zone in which nothing ever changes. It is our natural human tendency to look for a spot that is comfortable. Or maybe we could, alternatively, call it “the familiar zone“, since it isn’t really always that comfortable. The familiarity makes it safe, even if it may not necessarily be comfortable.
Living in the comfort zone may feel good, familiar and routine, but it can actually stop you from living the life you would really like to live. We harbor doubts of not being good enough, brave enough or strong enough (mentally or physically) to step out and do what we would really like to do or what we have always imagined ourselves doing…. one day. What if we fail? What if it doesn’t work out? What if we spend that investment money on a new venture and it falls through? What if, after trying to do something different, it just doesn’t work?
Opportunities Will Pass Us By
Living in the comfort zone means that we see the opportunities (sometimes) and let them pass us by. It means that we choose not to take the shots in life for fear of missing the goal. Wayne Gretzky (famously) said:
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Well, that is certainly true. If you never try, you never do and if you never do then you never accomplish.
The Story of Bob Smith
There was once a man who went to heaven and noticed a distinguished gentleman walking around. He asked one of the angels who he was.
“Why that’s Bob Smith, the greatest General who ever lived.”
The man entering heaven said, “Well, I know my history, I like to think and I don’t remember anything about a General named Bob Smith.”
The angel clarified: “Bob Smith would have been the greatest General whoever lived if he had decided to serve in the military.”
This “General” had let fears and his comfort hold him back from doing something amazing in his life.
We Can Not Move Forward Without Changing
If we always do the same things in the same way as we have always done them, then we will simply get more of the same things. Nothing will change and nothing will improve.
So, What Can We Do?
(1) We can start by getting comfortable with the truth
What does that mean? Well, it means (to borrow a sports analogy) we need to get comfortable checking the scoreboard. So if we think we are doing okay, it is a good idea to check and see what the reality is. If the scoreboard doesn’t say you are doing well, probably there are some things to fix or change. We can’t ignore the facts. We can either rationalize the scoreboard (of our life) away or we can reason with the scoreboard. We can make excuses for why we are where we are or we can try to figure out why we have the results we have and try to change something. Either way, the scoreboard will keep score.
So, this first one is a bit tough because it means looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking tough questions.
“The truth will set you free, but only after it makes you mad.
(2) We can remember that we always have a choice
In everything we do, we always have a choice and, by not making a choice, we are, in fact, making a choice. We can respond to what is happening to us, to our life circumstances. We can decide to something different today or tomorrow.
We have and make choices (big and small) every day of our lives. The question is, are we making good choices or bad choices? Also, the gap between the accumulation of bad choices over time and an accumulation of good choices over time can be absolutely dramatic. Our lives can take drastically different paths based on the choices we make over time.
Two individuals can start by having similar life circumstances and then, 10 years down the road, their lives may be dramatically different simply because of the choices they chose to make. Our thoughts – the way we think – can have a profound effect on the choices we make and on the outcome of our life circumstances.
We have the choice over our attitude.
We can choose to see the good in every situation. Is the glass half full or is it half empty? The circumstance of life will always be a mixture of good and bad. Let’s sift through and find the good parts.
We have the choice to act
We are constantly bombarded with negative thoughts like weeds in a garden. We can choose to listen to and affirm them or we can choose to stop them in their tracks and yank them out of our mind. We can be proactive at guarding our mind. And, when we get rid of bad thoughts, we need to replace them with good thoughts. Like the garden, if we pull out all the weeds, but don’t do anything else (proactively), then more new weeds will grow in the place of the old weeds. We need to plant something where the weeds were, then it is less likely that weeds will grow there. So, we need to yank out the negative thoughts and plant new positive information in.
( 3) We need to get busy intentionally (not just busy)
How effective is our busyness? We can be very busy and actually not get very much done or accomplish anything important. if we are not getting the results we want in our life, we have to get busy at being proactive and not just busy at doing what we have always done. We need to look at the scoreboard (of our life), examine it, figure out what is not working and make a game plan. What do we need to know to get better in these areas where we are not doing so well? There is always something that we can improve, work on.
(4) We need to hold ourselves accountable
We can so easily trick ourselves into believing that we have done all that is necessary, that there is nothing to fix or improve upon. We can be so naive (when we listen to ourselves). Competition in anything, be it sports or in the job market) will soon weed out those of us who are not on top of our game. So, it helps to hold ourselves accountable to someone else who can hold up a bar to show what we are trying to reach for. As the saying goes:
A line doesn’t know it’s crooked until it is held up to a straight line.
We really don”t know how we measure up until there is a measurement ( a scoreboard),. the scoreboard is not just for competition, but for all aspects of our lives. How do we measure up to how we would like to be? If we want to be something tomorrow that we are not today, we need to reach in and harness the potential inside of us.
What Could You Do if You Decided to Step Out?
I think Dr. Seuss expressed it best. Here is an excerpt from “Oh The Places You’ll Go“. I’ll let Dr. Seuss have the last word:
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some, you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
Have a great day!
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