5 Ways to Keep Your Comfort Zone from Smothering You
“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” ~ Ann Landers
My family and I were on vacation in California, and it was the time of year right before fall when the vacation crowds are gone and the pool is on the edge of being too cold to swim in and enjoy. The water felt great in the mid afternoon, but once the sun went down it started to feel borderline icy. You know that scared feeling and anticipation you get on the edge of a pool when your anticipating the water might be cold enough to take your breathe away and you are about to jump in?
Well, don’t jump in dummy? Right? Easy fix. I agree, except I had an excited 4 year old and 2 year old that had been waiting to go swimming with their Dad all day. This stinks. So, I knew I was going in, and before I could count to “1” my 2 year old was in the pool, it took her breathe away and she started swimming and having a ball. And splash, just like that my 4 year old was in and begging for me. Do you remember your younger days when your comfort zone was big enough to handle a cold pool? I do, vaguely. But, somewhere along the line I only started swimming when it was a perfect 85 degrees. I got so used to the comfort of warm swimming water in AZ, my comfort zone had shrunk in so far that I probably would not even be able to swim, at all, in my old state of New York. It’s just too cold.
A funny thing happens if we aren’t paying attention, just like a frog will not jump out of a pot of hot water as long as the temperature raises gradually, we get stuck in a forever shrinking comfort zone. We all do it, it’s part of being human; to seek the comfortable, to walk the path of least resistance.
It used to be easy to jump in cold water, meet strangers, interview for a new job, run a mile, get involved at great risk to yourself for a leadership role, ask your spouse out, tell your friends they mean the world to you, stand up for yourself or someone else, put yourself out there, take a financial risk, or any risk at all for that matter, and the list goes on.
When did you quit jumping into cold water? What has your shrinking comfort zone stolen from you? Playing with your kids, a chance at a better life, new friends, passion? Whatever it is, it’s probably more than you are willing to admit.
Here are a few things you can do to expand the comfort zone:
- Jump in and quit thinking. We “over think” everything as adults. And often without progress.
- When all is said and done. Be the one who did more than was said. Quit talking about what you will do someday and start being the one who did it, and then talk.
- Do one thing every day that pushes you off the edge. You know when your on the edge. So, everyday jump in once for a few minutes – meet the stranger, take a risk, do the unexpected, ask for the raise.
- Play. You can always find ways to play and have a good time. The older we get, it seems the more intentional we have to be, but you can do it. Have fun with life, even when the environment you’re in doesn’t seem to be “play friendly.”
- Pick up a new hobby. Even if it doesn’t stick, pick it up and look at it anyway. Cooking, art, outdoors, biking, running, games with friends, pogo sticks :), support a cause, volunteer, and you get the idea.
Expanding comfort zones nationally and encouraging you to jump in before you get too comfortable to enjoy life,