Makes you want to cozy up with a great book and an amazing blanket, maybe in front of a nice big fire somewhere. Right. Ok, so not exactly the comfort zone that will be examined here ;).
As defined by Alasdair A.K. White - “the comfort zone is a psychological state in which a person feels familiar, at ease, in control and experiences low anxiety and stress.”
Alina Tugend explains it as - “Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized — where we believe we’ll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control.”
What does comfort zone mean to you? What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like? It’s different for everybody. For me it’s a run on the seawall, or staying in all cozied up to read a good book. Or burying myself in learning and great music. For some, it’s a very safe place never EVER to be ventured out of. For others it may be considered boring and unfulfilling. They want out every chance they get. When was the last time you ventured out of your comfort zone? Or maybe you charged out of it. Or tip-toed. What was it like? How did you feel? How long were you out? And did you sprint back into the zone or just saunter back in? People love to be comfortable. But being comfortable doesn’t enable growth. In order to grow there needs to be a bit of discomfort. Heard the term ‘growing pains’ before? Leaving familiarity, even if it’s temporary, is scary. Maybe even risky. Complacency is dangerous. You want to make some magic happen? Get out of your comfort zone. This zone could be anything from a lacklustre job, an unfulfilling relationship, to doing the same old 5k run all the time, or living in a place that doesn’t bring you any real joy.
First you have to figure out all the Ws (where, what, why, when, and with whom) of your being comfortable. Then figure out what scares you, just a little bit. Then, what terrifies you? We’re looking at what terrifies you. Yup. That thing, whatever it is, is where you need to go. Don’t overthink this. Kiss of death. No overthinking. Trust me. I overthink pretty much everything. You start overthinking getting out of the comfort zone, and you won’t. Think of it as an adventure. One such adventure for me was to do Tough Mudder in Whistler. At the time, this was pretty much way outside my comfort zone. Yes I was running a lot, but there were a lot of obstacles, and mud, and ridiculous hills. Oh, and some insanely cold water (I think that might be an understatement), snow, and the electric shock therapy to run through at the end. (just for the record, I totally recommend that everyone try this event at least once - it’s awesome)
When you decide what you’re going to do, do your research, if needed. Then get your head wrapped around it, and keep a positive mindset about it. What can/will you learn from this experience? Even if it doesn’t go as planned, you will learn something. You are not failing, you are trying, experiencing, learning, and growing. Yes you will have fear. That is what’s going to propel you :). I had fear about Tough Mudder. I looked at the pictures on their website once, and then committed to not overthinking the whole thing, and not look at the website again until after the event. My Mom and Aunt both called to tell me they thought it was a crazy idea - pffft, this only made me want to do it more :). (thanks Mom & Auntie, see we all survived…)
Once you’ve decided to take an adventure out of the zone, get some friends on board. You could even get someone to join you on your ‘trip’. Regardless if you do it on your own or with someone, tell at least 1 person what you’re up to - it’s important to have some support, someone who can encourage you - you know, be your own personal cheerleader. Really, this part is key. I’ve been playing outside of my comfort zone quite a bit lately, and I’m not sure that would be possible without my support system. Who doesn’t love to have encouragement?! Luckily I had some friends and family to do Tough Mudder with. My brother and cousin were right beside me the whole time, it was awesome. There’s nothing better than tackling something big with friends and family. Seriously. Makes preparing for whatever it is you’re doing easier as well.
Are you starting to get that feeling of nervous excitement, just a little bit right now? Thinking of that something you’ve thought ‘geez I’d maybe like to give that a go one of these days, someday, maybe, don’t really think I could do it, but wow that would be so f*$^ing awesome if I did!’ Great! Write it down. RIGHT NOW!!!!! Seriously right now. Play around with it a little. When would be a good time to go for it? Tell someone what you’re thinking of doing. Stop overthinking. Tell yourself what’s going to happen and then start believing it. Once you get out and explore the world outside your comfort zone, and spend a little bit of time out there, you build confidence. And then what happens? You get happier :). Don’t worry that you’ll lose your comfort zone. That’s yours. Forever. And it will always be there. To what? Comfort you. Go on, pick something. Anything that feels like a bit of a stretch, something that’s going to make you feel some nerves. That feeling when you tackle something that was really hard to get to? It’s totally worth it. What are you waiting for??? Go on now. :)