Chasing your dreams and changing your life for the better isn’t easy. It requires you to step out of your comfort zone again and again, something most of us would rather not do. Over the next few weeks, I’m sharing thoughts and strategies to help you get more comfortable with being uncomfortable, so you can start taking action and create the Extraordinary Life you’re dreaming of. First up is courage.
I’m going through my fifth recertification for High Performance Coaching right now, and in today's class we role-played the coaching session on courage. It got me thinking about how subtle courage is in our everyday lives. For most of us, being courageous isn’t about running into a burning building to save a bunch of kittens, but it’s showing up in smaller (though just as scary) ways.
Everyday courage looks like setting strong boundaries, trying new things, breaking bad habits or creating good ones, or following your deepest desires and dreams. All of these things take courage to step outside your comfort zone.
We all like being comfortable, and this includes living a comfortable life. One that has the things you need, and that’s safe and predictable. When you live only in your safe zone, you’ll probably feel happy and content for a while. Maybe you just moved into a new home and are happily decorating, settling in, and getting used to the neighborhood. Your other dreams and goals were put on the back burner.
After some time in this new house, maybe even years later, you realize that you’ve let those dreams and goals go and each day is a repeat of the one before. You’ve become bored, uninspired, and unhappy. Things are good, so you don’t want to rock the boat, but the thoughts linger: “What if I could…”
You get so used to the safety of your comfort zone that shaking things up or doing something uncomfortable puts you in a cold sweat. You may want to go out and chase your dreams, but you're afraid that if you do leave your comfort zone, you won't be able to find your way back. You think it might disappear. What if the grass isn't greener?
Your ultimate dreams and goals aren’t found in the sphere of your comfort zone, so if you want to achieve them you'll have to take risks and challenge yourself. You’re also going to face failure many times. Dreaming isn’t for cowards, and it’s not for people who can’t find the courage to leave their comfort zones behind. The people who achieve their hearts’ desires are brave enough to take that first step out the door (and it truly begins with just one step!).
Since you’re reading this right now, I bet you want to change your life for the better. You may already be taking some courageous action to make it happen! If you're not moving forward as quickly as you'd like to, though, keep reading for some encouragement.
As comfortable as you may be in your “safe zone”, you haven’t always been in this place. Your comfort zone changes many times throughout your life, and it’s up to you if it will grow to include more or shrink. You get to decide! Think back to the many times you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone in life and what it did for you. How did you feel after?
Think about your home, too. For most of us, our homes are the center of our comfort zone. It’s where you go to eat, sleep, relax, and spend time with loved ones. I bet you haven’t always lived in that house with the same people. How many times did you have to get uncomfortable to create the life you have now?
Even moving into the house was probably a bit scary. What if the neighbors were nuts? What if there were hidden things that were broken? What’s that weird sound you keep hearing at night? Even if you were excited about the move there were a lot of things that made you step outside your comfort zone - like signing a contract, hiring movers, or repainting the whole house. Now, though, it feels amazing. You’ve settled in, and it is your new comfort zone.
This same thing can happen with a new job, a new relationship, and becoming a parent; so many things! There's nothing wrong with being comfortable. After all, everyone seeks it no matter what their life status is. But when comfort suddenly interferes with your dreams and goals in life, it becomes a problem.
When you get to the point where you let your comfort zone take priority over your dreams, then it's an issue. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re stuck in your comfort zone:
If you've been stuck in your comfort zone for too long, you may find these questions hard or even painful, depending on how long you've been stuck.
You'll probably remember that at some point in your life you were full of dreams. Yes, dreams change, but have you been moving forward? Look around where you are now. Do you like what you see? Is it what you envisioned? Maybe, maybe not. Only you know the answer. If it's not, it might be time to breathe some new life into your dreams.
When you see people who have what you want, or who you deem to be successful, we often aren’t privy to the hard work it took them to get there. At some point, they too were languishing in their comfort zone, but they had dreams they wanted to achieve. So, they made their dreams more important than their comfort.
Life threw them challenges and obstacles, but they kept on. They made mistakes and failed countless times, but they still kept going step by step. They had their eye on the distant, future prize and knew what they had to do to get there.
I’m watching my son go through this, as he has big dreams of becoming a professional bike racer. He’s using all his time to train and race, but where we live isn’t the heart of bike racing. He’s won lots of races here, but this fall he had to step out of his comfort zone to race on the East Coast. It’s much more competitive there, and with the difference in altitude he faced some challenges. He’s now racing in Europe for two weeks, which will be even more competitive. He’s also been dealing with back pain that’s impacting his riding.
He knows that if he wants to achieve his dream of being a professional bike racer, these are the types of races he needs to do. When he comes back, he’ll have to see a physical therapist and likely do consistent rehab work to relieve his back pain and become stronger. These aren’t the fun parts of racing, but he’ll have to be disciplined if he wants to meet his goal.
I remember how nervous I was to publish my first blog post over six years ago, and then to publish my first podcast a year and a half ago. It was scary to put myself out there on a platform that I wasn’t familiar with. Yet here I am, growing my business and publishing content like it’s no big deal.
Each of us has the potential to achieve our goals, but if you remain trapped in your comfort zone you'll never know your true potential. Think of a bird in a cage. The bird knows it can fly, but as long as it’s in the cage it doesn’t know how high it can go. That bird may be you! Your comfort zone is like a cage. The good news is that, unlike a caged bird, you can choose to leave your comfort zone.
If you want to uncover your true potential, the first thing you'll need to do is unlock your cage. Once the cage is open, though, you need to know where to go. If you want to reach your dreams, you need to have a plan. And not just any plan, but a well-thought-out one that may require you to learn new things or acquire new skills. In your comfort zone, you’ve mastered everything; it’s time to try new things. And yes, it might make you uncomfortable.
There are limitless opportunities outside your comfort zone, and it’s up to you to grab them. If you've been hanging out in your comfort zone too long or if you feel like your dreams have been derailed in the craziness of the past few years, please join me in one of my Design Your Decade Workshops. They're held on Zoom so you can join from anywhere, and they're completely interactive. We'll spend time evaluating 2022, the good and the bad, clarify your big goals and dreams, and then decide what you want to focus on for 2023 that will move you closer to the things you want.
These two hours of your life will set the stage for moving forward and out of your comfort zone. The first workshops are happening on November 30th and December 1st, and they are also a great way to ease into my Group Coaching Program that begins in January.
If you're committed to creating your Extraordinary Life in 2023, join the Group Coaching Program as an early bird and get $500 off, plus free registration for one of the upcoming Design Your Decade workshops. You’ll spend the year getting out of your way to create your Extraordinary Life.
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