There’s been a lot of talk lately about stretching boundaries and moving beyond your comfort zone. Most of it has to do with moving into areas where you are challenged to do something that is extremely UNcomfortable for you. Makes sense right? Moving outside your comfort zone shouldn’t be really easy, should it?
For me, the uncomfortable challenge is an upcoming branding challenge that I’m going to be participating in next month. The participants have already been warned to expect the unexpected and to be pushed beyond the limits of where we’re comfortable in our businesses.
That got me thinking about the whole notion of comfort zones. I’ve always been of the mindset that growing and moving beyond your boundaries had to be an unpleasant experience. I think it’s that whole “if it doesn’t kill me, it will make me stronger” thing. Like if I can force myself to make this change that I know is going to hurt but is good for me anyways, I will be so much bigger, better, faster, etc. etc. etc. But nowhere in there does it say I will be happy about it.
And quite frankly, that ticks me off. I want to live my passions, and since you’re here I’m assuming you do too. And there’s nothing in any book I’ve ever read that says that you have to be unhappy or uncomfortable. In fact, the whole idea of living your passion is to be happier and more comfortable in your own skin and with your own life.
The more I think about it, the more I think that if you do it in a way that’s right for you, then moving outside your comfort zone can and should be a rewarding, fun, and yes, even a happy experience. There is no reason that doing something new has to be a nail-biting, ulcer-inducing experience unless you want it to be. (Although I will admit that’s kind of how I feel about this upcoming branding challenge.) But that’s how we’ve been conditioned to react to change.
The key word there is REACT. If we were to be PRO-active agents of change in our lives, then making those changes would have to be a much happier experience. Wouldn’t they?
Your Life Passion and Your Comfort Zone
One of the big problems with going outside your comfort zone, at least the way it’s been taught, is that it has to be something really big, really life changing. And really big and really life-changing, by definition is really uncomfortable. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me really uncomfortable doesn’t have anything at all to do with being passionate. In my book, uncomfortable relates to wrong and for me to be passionate about something means it has to feel right to me.
So, the question is how to expand your focus on your life passions and move outside your boundaries at the same time?
The first thing to do is realize and accept that moving beyond the boundaries you are comfortable with can be done in baby steps. You can change your life with baby steps just as easily as you can with huge, life-altering leaps.
I’m a big fan of baby steps. I’ve done the life-altering leap a few times, and it’s never worked out well for me.
So, what kind of baby steps can you take to move outside your comfort zone and into your life passion?
- You could read a book that you might not have thought about reading before.
- You could watch a movie that presents a different look at your passions.
- You could sign up for a class that would give you more insight into your chosen passion.
- You could get involved with the arts community in your town.
- You could volunteer at a shelter (for humans or animals) or a hospital or a senior’s home, etc. and share your love and energy with someone whose spirits need lifting.
And if that’s too much for you, you can start with even smaller steps.
- Go for a walk in your neighbourhood and actually talk to your neighbours.
- Buy a new item of clothing in a colour you normally wouldn’t consider.
- Try a new restaurant or a new recipe.
None of these things by themselves is totally earth-shattering or life-changing. But each is an action in itself that you can feel happy about, and each one also pokes a little more at the barrier of your comfort zone. And each time you poke a little by doing something new and fun that makes you happy, you move that barrier back just a little further and these new experiences become part of your comfort zone instead of something beyond it.
The other thing is, that each one of the baby steps you take also fuels your passion even more. So that the more baby steps you take, the more you are living your passion almost without realizing it.