Stepping out of your comfort zone

By Tony Anderson DLA Land and Maritime Level II Mentoring

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Have you ever talked yourself out of pursuing a dream? Do you have difficulties controlling your negative, sabotaging or internal thoughts? Is this preventing you from being the best version of yourself?

If you’ve answered “yes” to a few of these questions, you’re certainly not alone.

These reactions are caused primarily from a fear of one thing: stepping out of your comfort zone.

Let’s face it, routine is safe and comfortable. Everyone knows what to expect, risks are controlled and surprises are limited. I equate this to an employee doing the same tedious work every day, going home, eating dinner, watching a few hours of television, going to bed and following the exact same routine every day.

This is a colorless state of existing; where’s the joy in this? It’s my belief that we were all placed here for a specific mission designed for us as individuals. Some were given the gift of athletics, others as educators, doctors, musicians, etc. but we settle for other occupations because they’re easier and less hectic.

Many of us follow the same routine I previously mentioned because we don’t live life; we allow life to pass by without striving for the greatness we were all created with. As a result, we settle for a life that may be pretty good, but not great; a life that wasn’t exactly designed for us, but nonetheless a life we chose. We make these decisions many times because we’re okay with “good enough.”

At my previous job, there was a sign with the caption, “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were made for.”

I used this as motivation to push myself towards high-level goals and continuously stretch myself. I made a pact with myself to pursue new-growth opportunities in my strengths as well.

I vividly remember pursuing my MBA and reading a book entitled Strength Finders. The authors mentioned that we should all seek to work primarily in our areas of strength and to avoid or delegate tasks in our areas of weakness, if possible.

As we steer towards our areas of strength areas, we may find that we’re more willing to try new things. Learning a new skill based on a talent that’s been untapped is a great way to stretch ourselves and slowly leave our rock-solid, comfort areas.

As we begin to find our stride and gain success, confidence begins to bloom. As a result, we may begin to pursue other opportunities and find success.

Even if we don’t find success in every endeavor, the willingness and confidence to purse the opportunity enhances personal growth. You were willing to get out there and take a chance despite your fear.

In addition, there are positive lessons learned in every venture despite the results; it’s just a matter of perspective. For example, when a college student pursues an internship, one primary objective is to determine if a certain career path is right for them. The best way to determine this is to gain actual experience in that area and see first-hand what the job entails. You never know unless you try.

It’s uncomfortable when we stretch ourselves, literally and physically. When you stretch muscles that haven’t been used, there’s typically pain and discomfort in the beginning. However, the more we extend those muscles over time, they begin to strengthen and adjust to form. They begin to settle in and function on a higher level because we’ve forced them to move; they’re no longer dormant. As a result, the uncomfortable beginning actually allows us to take flight and soar over time.

A professor of mine once mentioned you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable when pursuing dreams. As the saying goes, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

I also remember a memorable quote from Will Smith: “Everything you’ve ever wanted in life lies on the other side of your comfort zone.”

So ask yourself, is your life good enough or are you willing to extend yourself and leave what’s familiar to live a great life.

An unknown author mentioned the definition of hell is looking back over your life and realizing what you became in comparison to what you could have been.

Don’t let this be you. Take chances and live life to the fullest.

As Andy mentioned to Red in the Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying.”