There’s a lot to be said for comfort zones, both for and against them. On one hand they’re our adult security blanket that can help us feel secure and safe. On the other, they can become a barrier and stunt growth.
Several years ago, my husband and I made a painful (and previously yo-yo process) decision to move to Fort Collins, CO for a job possibility. I say painful, because we weren’t looking for it and in some ways felt pressured into it. Once we realized that we were waiting for the impossible scenario that the decision would make itself because the salary and benefits offered would make it easy to decide to move, we were able to realistically look at the opportunity and make the decision ourselves. We learned many things from our 3 months there but the lesson at the top of the list was how comfortable we’d grown being uncomfortable.
I know that sounds contradictory, but it was true. It’s not that we weren’t happy where we were before, but until we moved out of that comfort zone we couldn’t have realized how comfortable we had grown with our own mediocrity. That push caused us to identify and reach new horizons – a pattern that has since repeated itself over and over as we’ve learned to seize opportunities when they surface.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of discussions with friends and family about the value of being friendly. It strikes me that too often we can come across as unfriendly to those we meet or run into simply because we’re “comfortable” with our existing friends, etc. We don’t mean to appear exclusive or uninterested, some of us just require a little nudge out of our comfort zones.
So lately, I’ve been on the lookout in my own life for the times when I start to justify or rationalize not doing something. I’m beginning to catch myself and address this ‘knee jerk reaction’ and I’m amazed at the results. It’s just like retraining myself to tell my kids yes more than no – another comfort zone that seems to sneak up on you.
I’m finding this is a lot like exercising. When I feel those sore muscles that cause discomfort I can’t help but smile because I know that by working them positive things are happening. It’s rarely easy, never convenient and always requires sacrifice but the results are always worth it.
I wonder why it’s so easy to establish comfort zones about the silliest things; why it’s so easy to give ourselves ample excuses and reasons to stay there. Now that I say that, I do understand the primary reason because if I apply this to my ability/desire to get out of bed in the morning I totally get it. I don’t want to because I love that warm comfortable spot and the ability to do nothing but sleep!
So what do you do to help you identify and stretch your comfort zones?