Do you often feel bored, unfulfilled and stuck? Do you find yourself constantly complaining about the slog of getting up in the morning and going through your routine on auto-pilot? Then driving to work in a mass of equally dis-interested faces… like rows of ants, carrying 10 times their weight and just mindlessly following the one in front of them? Have you ever played with a production line of ants? Have you tried to disrupt their path with something? I’m not suggesting you rush out and go and disrupt their honest day’s work, but I’ve seen it before. All mayhem breaks loose! They freak out and lose their way, but eventually, they will instinctively find their way back to the scent and carry on.
But this is not a biology lesson… for them, it’s survival, but for us, it’s called a comfort zone!
If you think about Comfort Zone, what comes to mind? For me it means a place where it’s comfy… where you want to stay, and it’s very difficult to get out of. It’s a place where there’s no movement… a safe place. Where thinking out of the box is not even an option, because thinking out of the box means moving… and moving means change. Often, the prospect of change makes us feel uncomfortable, insecure, stressed out and afraid. But why is that?
Moving out of your Comfort Zone means that you will experience some discomfort, but the point of being in your Comfort Zone, is to avoid discomfort, not true? Many of us are happy there, and that is okay, but some of us feel edgy and unable to breathe in that space. And that is when a change is as good as a holiday.
Along with the discomfort of moving out of your comfort zone, you might have to stretch yourself, and flex muscles you’ve never flexed before. This could cause some pain – emotionally, intellectually or physically. But this is a good thing. We are programmed to avoid pain. But, what will the results be if we’re constantly avoiding that ‘pain’? We’ll stay where it’s nice and comfy, even if it comes at a price.
It’s not hard to understand why it is difficult to break out of our comfort zone, because there is a neurological process involved. Imagine you have to walk across a park every day to get to the shop. Inevitably you will follow the same shortcut, and before you know it, you would have created a path… The same happens in our brain. The more you do something, the easier it becomes, because you are creating a neural pathway. So it will only be uncomfortable in at the start of the process.
When we stretch ourselves, we are learning and growing, so it is to be expected that there will be pain and discomfort. It’s like moulding a block of clay. While it’s just sitting on the bench, it’s going nowhere, becoming nothing and bringing no value to anybody. But if you want to create something beautiful and/or functional from it, you have to mould it, and eventually bake it at an extreme temperature in order to bring out the sheer vibrancy and beauty of the colors and glaze.
So how do you become un-stuck or get out of your Comfort Zone? It starts with a decision… a decision to change your current situation. Write a clear goal of what you want to accomplish, then, work at it diligently. Consciously working towards your desired outcome. The key here is repetition. That is how you create new habits. And it doesn’t have to be something earth shatteringly large! Start small. Wake up a few minutes earlier so that you can actually sit down and enjoy that cup of coffee while making an achievable to-do list. Take a different route to work, or take up a hobby! Get the whole family together on weekends for an outing, or start family traditions and make time for valuable family bonding moments.
Obviously, if you are ready for a big move, plan carefully, write a goal and action steps, and start one step at a time to implement change. If you are uncertain of your decisions, make a list of pros and cons to help you gain perspective. Remember, Rome was not built in a day. And be prepared that everything might not be plain sailing. Expect obstacles and setbacks and try and identify and prepare for them before they derail you. But don’t let your setbacks set you back. Look at the progress you’ve made, make some adjustments if you have to, and re-focus on your end goal.
If you strategically and systematically implement small changes, soon enough, you would have conquered the mountain and successfully implemented the change you desired!