How often do you get out of your comfort zone?

As we end the first month of the year, I am seeing more and more folks fading away from their resolutions…eating less sugar, working out, writing a gratitude journal… you name it. I am also seeing threads on Facebook on running 2018 miles this year or traveling to a new country. I find some goals inspiring and some of them to be a predictable pattern of human behavior.

Sticking to goals is hard, unless you make a habit out of it and start loving whatever it is you are doing! At the end of the day, the difference maker for me is whether someone steps out of their comfort zone or not.

More importantly, making a habit out of getting out of your comfort zone will serve you better in the long run than yo-yo dieting.

I have several examples of where I was OK getting out of my comfort zone and some where I’m still very much NOT! The perfect one is with signing up for a 200 mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland, on a whim might I add, and then going through the sufferfest. It was the hardest physical challenge I’ve tackled and finishing it is an accomplishment I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life.

On the other hand, I am still not comfortable facing a fear I’ve struggled with for most of my adult life – I am just not able to get over some of the psychological aspects associated with being with you in deep waters, literally.

I’ll give you another example. I am working on a side project to start a podcast called Leadership Vibes, a podcast on leadership, diversity and inclusion.

I’ve invited a bunch of folks who I thought really have unique perspectives and would be willing to share their thoughts candidly in a public forum and was surprised with the assumptions that I had made about their comfort zone. Folks I thought would not be interested in something like this, are taking a much deeper interest and are using it as a forum to practice a new skill. And then, there are folks who I thought would be willing to jump right in because the topic is right up their alley, have backed out because they’re super uncomfortable about their communication skills and public speaking.

Our initial reaction to hearing about experiences that we’ve never dealt with before really varies on our core values, backgrounds, experiences and priorities. I fully respect the decisions people make in their life but I find them fascinating to think about!

My key takeaway on the topic of comfort zone is that their are personality types who like to step out of it often and their are personality types that don’t. There’s nothing wrong with either but I do have an opinion that the former gives you a richer life.

So if you have an opportunity to do something you’ve never done before and while you may suffer through it, my belief is that you will learn something about yourself and the world through the experience.

There are life quotes out there encouraging you to step out of your comfort zone everyday, but that seems way too much!

If you can do 3-4 things in a year that really stretch you physically, emotionally and intellectually, the value you would add to your year would be exponential.

Let me give you some examples of things that might be out of your comfort zone.

  • On the physical side, there might be folks who have never run at all in their life or those who have run marathons. For them to step out of their comfort zone means different things, it could be a 5K or an ultra-marathon, respectively; either ways they are not just reading blogs on or following runners on Pinterest and Instagram, they are taking action!
  • On the emotional side, an example of getting out of your comfort zone is to have a difficult conversation that you’ve been mulling over for maybe weeks, days or even years. Some conversations with your coworkers or family members can be just extremely difficult to have, but not having them is not adding any value to you or to them.
  • On the intellectual side, it would be signing up to stand in front of people and giving a presentation. Public speaking is the most common fear. I understand it, can relate to it, have overcome it and would highly encourage anybody who is interested to look into Toastmasters International. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to improving communication skills for literally a few dollars a month. It changed my life a decade ago and I still reap benefits from it!

The best resolution of all is to be better than yesterday, better at whatever you do.

In doing so, you naturally will get out of your comfort zone and stretch your proverbial wings! Hope you have a fly 2018!

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