Most of us are so enmeshed in our comfort zones that we operate completely on auto-pilot and don’t even think about what we’re doing – or why.
It’s often only after a traumatic event that we take the time to stop and have a look at how we’re living – and usually only then because we are forced to stop.
I was one of these people. I pushed myself too hard for too long and my mind and body collaborated to force me to stop. I was dropped with such a force and from such a height that I could not get up. I went from a fully functioning, high-powered, award-winning executive to being on the floor, shattered into a million pieces and unable to stop crying in the space of an hour.
For me, everything ground to a halt in the blink of an eye. For the first time in my life I had nothing I had to do, nowhere I had to be, and no one relying on me for anything. I couldn’t function in everyday life. I couldn’t communicate with people around me. Suddenly, I was in the unfamiliar territory of having nothing else to do but things for myself.
I was used to being busy. I was doing everything for everyone else until I had nothing left to give – and then I kept going. My life was passing me by and I had no idea. I was well and truly in my ‘comfort zone’.
But then I started questioning all the different things in my life. And I was left wondering whether it was actually a ‘comfort zone’ or whether I was actually in a massive ‘rut’.
When I looked at what was in my comfort zone I realised that it was full of ‘stuff’ that wasn’t really all that comfortable. I was exhausted trying to run around making sure everyone else was okay. I was tired, stressed and miserable.
So why did I stay in the same day-to-day choices, living the same day-to-day life without making any changes? I pondered this question a lot during my recovery and the only answer I came up with was this: because I was afraid of failing.
Being forced to stop gave me the opportunity to step away from all of the expectations in my life. I dropped every ball I was juggling and was unable to pick any of them up.
What I realised during my recovery was that my comfort zone was something that I had imposed on myself.
I could come up with a thousand reasons why I had to do all the things I was doing, but at the end of the day everything in my life was of my own creation. I was exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed and it was a direct result of the way I had chosen to live my life.
Realising this taught me to start asking questions about how I could do things differently. A lot of people will tell you that change is too hard and that to get out of your comfort zone you have to make uncomfortable choices. I like to view this differently, because in my opinion doing something uncomfortable sounds like introducing more stress and exhaustion into my life.
I prefer to look at life like an adventure. Every day is an opportunity to explore and find new ways of doing, seeing and thinking about things. Using this thought process I made the choice to try life without a comfort zone.
To do this, I removed the words ‘success’ and ‘failure’ from my dictionary and decided that for everything I did I would view it as an adventure. So, when I try something new – whether for business or for personal reasons – I do it with a view of exploring to see where it goes. If it doesn’t work I can step back and look at it from different angles to see whether it needs a simple tweak or a total overhaul.
The focus of every day is now about having fun and seeing where my imagination can take me. I approach everything with a mindset of ‘…if it works, then great, the adventure continues; if it doesn’t work, then also great, the adventure continues albeit in a different way’.
My life is much simpler now that it doesn’t have a comfort zone. Every day I get to go to new places, find new information, engage in new and different conversations. And the best bit? I get to do it in a way that supports the life I want to live and the person I want to be.
Want more info? There are loads of tips and tricks on living and thinking differently in my book ‘Keep It Super Simple’. Want to chat? Follow my social links below.