It’s called your comfort zone for a reason

It’s called your comfort zone for a reason

Tips and Tricks
Posted on 13 JAN

In 2019, I am sure there are things you want to improve in your personal and/or professional life. Nothing like a new year to imbue you with the spirit of a fresh start. Anything is possible!

We all want to get better at something. Would you like to be recognized more at work? A new job? Do you want to be more responsible with your money? Eating better and exercising are consistently the top two documented New Year’s resolutions each year. Go figure! Do you want to leave a toxic relationship but don’t know how to you can possibly do it? There are always plenty of reasons why not. Plenty of excuses not to. But, as Under Armor reminds us, Gains Aren’t Given. First step, ask yourself – are you truly ready? Not to do it for anyone else, but to do it for you?

If your answer is yes, are you prepared for the discomfort that comes with change? If it was easy, you would already be doing it, right? They call it your comfort zone for a reason. Change is uncomfortable as you try new ways and new things, and push yourself. For me, someone who is a serial over-achiever, new things and changes can be particularly daunting. The big F-word looms large. No, not that word, I am talking about failure. It’s just not an option for me which can be quite paralyzing and much easier not to start at all. I have to call on other personality traits to force myself through the discomfort, and you can too. Your emotional intelligence is key. EI is rooted first in self-awareness; in fact, it’s the largest chunk of it, along with your levels of emotional self-control, positive outlook, adaptability, and your achievement orientation. First step is to Know Thyself; Socrates was right.

And then there is that far off but powerful voice in your head – fear. It can be a good thing when it’s triggered by your natural instincts to keep yourself safe in the physical world. In the world inside your head though, it can be quite something different. Fear of flying - fear of the dark – fear of public speaking - fear of loss - fear of intimacy - fear of failure – fear of making decisions - fear of judgment – fear of being alone. Have you ever done something that really scared you and afterwards thought, hey, that wasn’t so bad? The good thing about fears is that it most often subside after you’ve faced it consistently. Don’t let fear hold you back. And realize that that voice in your head is yours, change the dialogue. You have the power to turn it off.

Albert Einstein’s wisdom - the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results, sure makes sense. To change, you will need to act in ways that are unfamiliar (uncomfortable, scary, etc.). Take risks that are new. Try things that, in many cases, will initially be frustrating because they won’t work the first time. You will definitely make mistakes and it might possibly be embarrassing. You may temporarily fail, but ultimately you will be happy you did. Here are a few suggestions to get you on your way.

  1. Find comfort in the same-ole, same-ole. Resistance to change is natural even when you WANT to change. The tide always returns to the sea. When you’re making a specific change, stick to your old habits and routines in other aspects of your life to give you comfort. Not everything should be in upheaval all at once. Let other daily rituals calm you.
  2. Don’t fight it. Acknowledge your discomfort and remind yourself it’s normal. When you stop resisting something, it’s a lot easier to let it go. Relax into it.
  3. Anticipate and plan for the discomfort. Notice your feelings. Realize they aren’t permanent—you won’t always feel scared, or anxious, or paranoid. Then plan for them rather than wait until you’re overwhelmed or about to give up to think of a strategy. How can you make yourself speak up in the staff meeting to share your ideas? Maybe ask a trusted colleague to prompt you with, “Hey Lisa has a great idea about that!” When you’re sad and would really like some retail therapy, what else could you do to comfort yourself? Make your list of non-monetary options now, and make them equally as satisfying as shopping would be.
  4. Give yourself credit. Just initiating change is HARD. Good for you! Two days, three days, consistency – You rock! There are a million little victories along the way with any change to celebrate your progress. You deserve it. Give credit where credit is due.
  5. It’s your choice. Remember that if you do not change or improve and remain the same, that is a choice to. If you say to yourself, “I choose to let my decisions be made for me”, you are making the choice to give up your power. Doesn’t that make you angry? If not, then you’re not ready to make the change. If it does, then it’s your choice. Get started.

Ultimately, things, you, your environment, everything is changing every day anyway - but most often in smaller less noticeable increments. Wouldn’t you rather have a say in those changes? Change takes courage, persistence, perseverance and consistency. I’ve used the words of a fitness company, a founder of Western philosophy and a genius to help me ease you into change. Now it’s up to you. Are you ready?

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