The problem with comfort zones is that they are so comfortable. Scientists conducting a now-famous experiment with frogs plopped them into boiling hot water. The frogs immediately leaped out of the pot. However, when they placed the frogs in cool water, they settled in and remained as the scientists heated up the water gradually.
The frogs cooked to death.
We are frogs—in at least one area of our lives.
What dream have you given up on? Put aside because you just couldn’t see how to make it happen?
Or, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Really sit with that question. What is it?
If you are like the rest of us, what holds you back is fear—fear of pain, failure, rejection, shame. Or, fear of ____________(yours).
We are here to push against ease, predictability and safety. We must–in order to do our work: what expands our lives and make things better for others.
Here are three strategies to pull yourself out of a comfort zone:
1. Name your fear and head straight for it with all you’ve got.
Phil was a 13-year-old sophomore and “skinny runt” sitting next to the football team’s star running back in mechanical drawing class. Because they were both terrible at drafting, they bonded. The champ shared with Phil the secret of his football success. It wasn’t his physical prowess or ability to avoid getting tackled; it was his attitude. The star had to learned to love danger and pain.
“He’d demand the ball on the first play from scrimmage and would run at the nearest tackler. He wouldn’t try to fake him out or run out of bounds. He’d run right at him…When I get up, I feel great, alive. That’s why I’m the best.”
-Phil Stutz & Barry Michels
It was psychologist Phil Stutz’s first introduction to the brilliance of heading straight into pain—rather than avoiding it—a skill he now teaches his clients.
The beauty is that when we confront pain, it diminishes and ultimately disappears.
2. Redefine your goal.
I had a new offering I wanted to add to my consulting business, but I avoided it—for five years. I couldn’t guarantee success. And I hate to fail.
But when I faced my fear of failure, I also realized I needed to change my goal. Instead of aiming for lots of new clients and more money, something I couldn’t control, I changed my goal to increased inner strength, something I could control.
I made a list of how the new venture could help me grow personally:
1. Be more faith-filled
2. Be more others-oriented
3. Become more comfortable with taking risks and putting more of myself ‘out there.’
4. I want to recognize when I’m hiding out in a comfort zone and, instead, head straight for the pain!
Aiming to become a more audacious version of myself next year than I currently am, was a goal that catapulted me forward in my new venture. Slowly but surely, it is gaining strength, as am I.
3. Redefine life.
It’s human nature to desire perfection. Nirvana. Utopia. The right balance of friends, food and fun. However, this goal keeps us frustrated and ashamed. It is also false. Never going to happen.
Life is a struggle every single day. The opposite is to be six feet under.
You and I get to wake up today to the opportunity to fight against our inner demons and work for the betterment of the planet. And if we are fortunate, we will wake up tomorrow to the same battle.
Facing this truth arms us with fierce reality. We find the strength to move forward.
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photo credit: Ed Yourdon (creative commons)
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Gloria Rose, Life Coach