I always find the conversation around the “comfort zone” incredibly interesting. And I think for most it feels like a worn-out topic. Yes, I know…all the magic happens outside the comfort zone. Well, what happens when you have no idea that you are even in your comfort zone? How the hell do you then know that you need to move out of it?
I haven’t always been in tune with this. And, honestly, most of the time when I am “stepping out of my comfort zone” I have no idea that I am doing it. I find it makes this step that much easier.
Take running for instance. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to start. I knew that when I began running after having my 4th child. But I hit the pavement anyway because the discomfort of the additional weight far outweighed the comfort of the sedentary life. When I purchased my business…it a was helluva uncomfortable zone. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into. I fought hard against the opportunity. I was so far out of my comfort zone that it felt like I was fighting against the very opportunity I was seizing for myself. Yet, when it came time to hire an Operations Manager I didn’t hesitate. The uncomfortable position I was in as a new business owner made stepping outside the comfort zone of entrepreneurial control much, much easier.
In both cases, my life changed for the better. I not only lost the weight but found the athlete within me and became a marathon runner. And I discovered my LOVE for running. Likewise, the business flourished after I let go of the reins and allowed others to shine in their own expertise and skill set. Both situations were a win-win.
I don’t have to tell you how important it is to step outside of your comfort zone. As successful women and high achievers, we already know this and feel as though we do it as second nature. BUT what if you are blindly caught in the comfort of a situation that you have yet to realize is keeping you stuck in a place that you were only supposed to be passing through? This is the magic…the key to making the shifts, the bold moves that have percolated in your mind.
Finding the edge of the Comfort Zone
Let’s talk about the comfort zone and what it signifies. It is a psychological state in which one feels at ease because they are not being tested. People will only participate in activities that are familiar, making them feel “in control” of their environment. Such words could not better identify the desire of a high achiever. The desire to be “in control” thereby continuously challenging themselves out of the discomfort and back into the familiar known. Yes, yes, I know I completely flipped on you there. And for good reason. While we may take calculated risks and feel as though we are stretching ourselves there is an inner dialogue that rolls under the tow of consciousness continuously sucking us back to the status quo. This, my friends, is the edge of the comfort zone that we must find.
Fear is one of the main advocates picketing for comfort in the rally against change. And man is she a loud one. My favorite is the sign held stating that “All will be lost”. And the creativity of the mind in the loss is commendable. Rejection and uncertainty are comrades in the game and typically where you find one, you will find them both. Yet, they don’t always make themselves known. Of course, you might be entertained by them when the big decisions are at hand. But when the small, seemingly insignificant ones are at play they take their advocacy underground, still pulling at you, yet drawing too much attention.
This is why we continue to play small, the unwilling and unknowing participants in a game being played by the subconscious mind and the limitations that, while beneficial at one point, are like cement blocks keeping you grounded.
The Benefits of Embracing the Unknown
Think about it. With as much emphasis as we put into security and stability, and our desire to secure it…have you found it yet? I would venture to say, NO. You may be pushing back on this but if 2020 showed us anything…it is that ANYTHING is possible. Therefore it is all just one big unknown. And our fear is that it will suffocate even our biggest, most brilliant ideas that are nudging to be birthed. It’s a sad death but one that we have seen too often.
Now imagine that you venture into each day with a sense of excitement over the unknown. Like a book without a cover to be explored or an adventure series where you get to create your own ending. Doesn’t that sound like a bit of fun?
My own personal story is riddled with examples of stepping out for the adventure and discovering a realm of resilience that I had yet to uncover. I also love the story of Shawn Askinosie which was shared with me during an interview for an upcoming podcast. Shawn was a defense lawyer who felt the nudge. He thought there may be something more meaningful for him and he allowed curiosity to guide him deeply into the unknown where he found…chocolate. Then by stepping outside of his comfort zone…and by a lot, he founded Askinosie Chocolate and is now changing the world. Yet when he started…he had no idea where his journey would lead.
How to Identify When It’s Time to Get Out
I know, I went bold on that statement, because sometimes it is time to get out. And you know what, I think that deep down we always know when there is something, a relationship either business or personal, a career, a mindset, or a pattern that we need to get out of. The nudging is there. It is that piece of you that feels unsettled. You don’t know what it is, it just feels a little snug, frustrating, or downright constricting. The problem is, we have become accustomed to pushing these nudges aside and giving them little to no attention. I mean in the midst of our busy lives, who has time for that, right?
Well, my friend, you must create a little space for that nudge to be heard. It could be as easy as a question when the thought arises. What is the discomfort and where is it coming from? When do you feel it most? Is it ever present?
The push for more is hardly ever out of selfishness, though our little advocates for comfort will tell us differently. I’ll let you in on a little secret, the push for more is the purest and truest version of you pushing you. It is you, knowing that change is your greatest opportunity for growth and for achieving your deepest desires.
So What’s Your Move?
How do you get out of your comfort zone? First, identify it. Allow yourself to be aware of the presence of the nudge or itch, that tiny bit of discomfort. Then give it some space. I’m a typical Type A mover so patience hasn’t always been a good friend. Yet I find more and more that if I give just a little bit of space to the thoughts that are coming forward or the questions that I have surrounding the current situation, answers will arise.
Perhaps it is an upcoming conference and an email has just landed in your inbox. While it has nothing to do with your business, you feel like you need to be there but can’t explain why. Or it is a hobby or interest of yours that you’d love to spend more time with but don’t know what you would do with it. (I always find this self-doubting thought to be a hijacker of brilliance and curiosity.)
You might be one who knows exactly what you want to do. That’s amazing! Set the goal and start taking the steps to get there. Just know and remain aware that your advocate for comfort is hanging in the wings. When things start to feel tough, pull her up front and address her directly. Tell her you appreciate her help and desire to keep you safe, but you’ve got this. She can hang and come along for the ride but no longer gets to be in charge of the navigation system.
Embracing the Journey: Cultivating a Mindset of Curiosity
You will hear me say it over and over again. Curiosity is key to everything, including stepping out of your comfort zone. Courage, yes, but that only comes after curiosity has been employed.
Curiosity is one of those wondrous gifts that we were given as children and over time shifted. It became more about finding the answer or outcome vs. remaining open to opportunity. We must remain open. Holding loosely to the outcome as well as the consequence. Remember all we ultimately have is the unknown. Curiosity provides resilience for navigating through the unknown. By asking questions of the discomfort, and the nudges we have the opportunity to move into an energy of open awareness allowing the energy of the moment to share with us where the edge is.
Your comfort zone, while safe and familiar, is not where growth thrives. Tune into the nudges of discomfort and allow curiosity to lead you into the unknown. Have the courage to make bold moves, engage with the world around you, and step into your greatest potential.
Is there something in your life nudging you towards change? What’s your next move to venture out of your comfort zone? Share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s embark on this journey of self-discovery together. Remember, the magic happens outside your comfort zone. Step out and embrace it.