Why You Should Leave The Familiar Zone
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“The reason I want you to focus on stepping out of your comfort zone is this: staying in your comfort zone is the surest way to never grow. By staying in your comfort zone you actually increase the chances of being unhappy and falling into a rut.” Raphael Huwiler, The Pain of Comfort
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? Should we try something new? Maybe we fear that we will fail or worse, that we will succeed and then what? Our 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 reappear and I would settle down to doing regular, normal things, living according to (my and others’) expectations. In fact, I had often thought about writing. 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 wanted to do.
Fear Is Debilitating
Fear can paralyze us and doubt, which is a family member of fear, literally convinces us to stay where we are by convincing us that we shouldn’t think about doing anything. Doubt makes us feel guilty for even thinking about it. 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 know we should do? Fear can be helpful at times because it can keep us safe and keep us from doing things that might harm us. But imagined fear is a misuse of our creative mind. We borrow troubles from tomorrow which may not even materialize. It has been said that fear is F.E.A.R – False evidence appearing real.
Maybe Our Comfort Zone Is Too Comfortable
As humans wen like to seek a comfort zone ( we like our creature comforts) in which where there are relatively few changes and we have our routine. And once we are there, we like to stay there because it is familiar and safe. It is our natural human tendency to look for a spot that is comfortable. We could, alternatively, call it “the familiar zone“, since the zone isn’t really always that comfortable. Sometimes it is just what we have always known and lived with. 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 doing things that would help you to grow and be more impactful in the world around you. Opportunities are all around, but when we don’t take them because they are unfamiliar or would require change, we can miss out on them. Maybe 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. The comfort ( familiar) zone can become a hindrance to doing something extraordinary that later on down the road we may wish we had had the courage to do. Opportunities come, but the can also pass us by when we don’t seize them.
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.
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 who ever 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?
Get Comfortable With the Facts
What does that mean? Well, it means (to borrow a sports analogy) we need to get used to checking the scoreboard. If we think we are doing okay, it is a good idea to check and see what the scoreboard of our life says. How are we doing according to what we said we would do? Are we getting the results in the different areas of our lives that we want? If not, there are probably some things to 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.
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 A Choice Of Attitude
In everything we do and in every circumstance we have a choice. The circumstances do not determine or control how we think or react. We are entirely in control of and responsible for our attitude. We can choose to see the good in every situation. Is the glass half full or is it half empty? The circumstances of life will always be a mixture of positive and negative.
- We Have A Choice Of Thought
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 with thoughts that are true. 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 true information where the weeds were,
- We Can Choose To Live Intentionally
We can actually be very busy and not get very much done or accomplish anything important. if we are busy but busy with unimportant or timewasting activity, then we are not using our time wisely or effectively. Life is far too short to be doing anything that wastes our time, takes us away from the people we love and cherish and from doing work that is both challenging and meaningful. Life is too short to be spent on activities that deplete our physical and emotional energy.
- We Can Choose To Hold Ourselves Accountable
Are we doing what we told ourselves we would do? Are we making choices that are consistent with ourselves and our values? Are we living a life consistent with what we would like to and feel called to do? If we are not accountable to ourselves, it is hard to be accountable to anyone else. Our lives should be a reflection of who we are, what we value and what we believe. Being accountable to ourselves means that we have something – a measuring stick- by which to measure. This measuring stick can be our values and beliefs. Without a measuring stick, there is no accountability.
A line doesn’t know it’s crooked until it is held up to a straight line.
What Could You Do?
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 the 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.
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca