Many folks go quite happily through life living inside their Comfort Zone. They stick with the known and feel safe doing that. Routine provides the sense of security that many folks crave and when the routine gets disturbed it causes them feelings of anxiety and discomfort.
I propose, however, that staying totally inside ones comfort zone can be, well, boring. I believe that in taking a step into, what we might perceive as, the Danger Zone, we enrich our lives and add layers of experience and interest to our character!
“I’ve learned that marrying an extrovert when you are an introvert can be good for you.” To that introvert, the extrovert provides some, possibly much-needed, balance. The extrovert challenges the introvert to be outside the comfort zone at times which can lead to wonderful shared experiences.
My son became an avid snowboarder when he was in junior high school. His first forays into the sport came from, what I will call, a toy snowboard that we gave him for Christmas one year. All of the kids in the neighborhood wanted to take a turn with that snowboard on the hill behind our house. But in junior high and high school he had the chance to join the ‘Ski and Snowboarding Club’ and that began the fanatic passion.
My husband, who had skied several times in college, decided to take it up again as a way to spend time with our son. But it was something that had never even occurred to me to try. I’m not an athlete and snow sports were never on my radar except during the Winter Olympic Games. It was something I had never pictured myself doing. So I would go and sit in the lodge and watch the hill for my boys!
Now the part about stepping out of my comfort zone! For some reason, call it momentary insanity, I decided to try it! I guess I concluded that if I ever wanted to see my son doing something that he really loved to do, and was getting pretty good at from all that I was hearing, I would have to get up on that mountain with him!
So, long story short, I stepped into the Danger Zone at the age of 43 and learned how to ski! I’ll never forget the very first lesson when I was baaaarely moving yet felt like I was flying at incredible speeds; living in fear for my 43-year-old bones and anxiety about injury stopping my life in its tracks. After all, my job involved a good bit of driving and how was I going to do that with a broken leg??
Today, at 50, skiing is still something that my husband and I like to do together in the winter. It makes the winter much more enjoyable and the time until spring passes much more quickly! But it is a great joy that we would not have if I had stayed in my Comfort Zone sitting in the lodge. There is nothing like being on a deserted mountain trail after a fresh snow; the beauty and quiet are amazing!
In stepping into the Danger Zone, we allow ourselves opportunities to learn new things, try something different, meet somebody new and simply get on with life.
I remember a time when I really hated to make phone calls to do something as simple as scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Silly, maybe, and it is something that I have gotten over, but in pondering something as basic as making a doctor’s appointment, think of the negative consequences that could occur if you are paralyzed and unable to make that call. For your own health and safety you may need to step out of the Comfort Zone and get it done!
It has proven true over and over again in my life, and I’m sure in yours as well, that even something that feels uncomfortable at first, will begin to feel more natural the more that you do it. In a course that I took once, the instructor kept reminding the class to take a ‘Ready-Fire-Aim’ approach to moving forward reminding us that everything feels unnatural at first. If we would just get ready and fire, we can then make course corrections (aim) as needed, but at least we are moving forward. You can’t steer a parked car!
I bet there are many things in your life that you can look back and reflect on that required you to get out of your comfort zone. Some, very likely, are things that you love to do today much like skiing is for me. Some are things that just became comfortable with and ceased to cause you anxiety (like making phone calls). And there maybe some events that, in stepping out of the Comfort Zone, taught you it was truly a Danger Zone and best avoided!
The Comfort Zone is certainly a nice place to be…….sometimes. But stepping out of our Comfort Zone can lead to new adventures and continue to offer us challenges that keep life interesting!
On the journey with you…….Kathy
(Quote: Age 35- The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)