I’m not one who likes the feeling of being uncomfortable very often. Who does? Now, there is a difference between the emotional and tactile feeling of being uncomfortable. I’m not here to tell you to set up a tent on a slew of jagged rocks and I won’t be one to tell you not to use a blanket if you are cold. Those feelings of comfort are great and should always be listened to. I am going to tell you, like you have probably heard many times before, that your comfort zone should be challenged and expanded every once and awhile. I’ll try to avoid using too many clichés but be ready to hear some because other people have already said it so well. And don’t think this post is just for millennials, this is for people of any age.
Be prepared to be frightened – There are a lot of things that bring us comfort. A steady job and paycheck, the familiarity of our surroundings, or the comfort of your daily routine. The fear of losing these things isn’t something a lot of people are willing to confront. I am as guilty of avoiding fear as anybody. But what if the things that we think are so comforting aren’t as much of a sure thing as we thought? I know people who have been with the same company for 26 years and one year from retirement end up getting fired. Not for poor performance or poor company financials, but because the company they worked for thought that saving a few bucks would be a great business strategy. Often we find fear keeps us from seeking out what we truly have a passion for in life, in love, or in business. Maybe it is time we looked at the feeling of fear as an indicator that we are headed in the right direction instead of discouraging us from the pursuit. There used to be a company in the ‘90’s that was called No Fear. I used to love that brand, but I realized as I thought about it more, that No Fear probably isn’t the best. The feeling of fear is a great indicator and can give you important feedback. You must recognize that fear and know how to handle it and what it is telling you.
Don’t Look, Just Jump – Facing fear and the unfamiliar is something we all avoid. Don’t think you are alone in avoiding fear at all costs because you absolutely are not. Facing fear is like ripping off a band-aid. You don’t want to think about it too long or you will talk yourself right out of it. Doing a thing and not waiting can be the best way to push past fear into new uncharted territory, expanding your comfort circle and making room for growth. Give yourself an opportunity to be impulsive at times. Life is short and tomorrow you may not have the choices you have today. Don’t let opportunities slip away because you are afraid to jump or end up thinking about it too long because, like that band-aid, you may never pull it off.
The Fear Will Persist – You made the leap, good for you. Now the fear is going to go away…right? Not exactly. Fear isn’t something that gets turned off just because you made a decision that was WAY past your comfort level. It is something that will follow you. For a while you will have a little voice in your head that will be asking, “Did I make the right decision?”. You may even feel like you want to go back and reverse your decision because the fear didn’t go away, and you still feel uncomfortable. That feeling could follow you for a long time until you get confirmation that you made the right decision. The bigger the decision, the longer that voice may linger. Days, Months, Years. Don’t dwell on that fear, move forward with your decision. You made it, now own it. If the focus continues to be on how uncomfortable your decision has made you, you will never shift your focus to making the most of what your decision has put in front of you.
Whether you are contemplating moving to a new city, starting a business or chasing after a long-time dream of traveling the US in a van, don’t let familiarity keep you from expanding your comfort zone. There are a lot of different ways to move through this thing we call life. And this is your “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Make the most of it. You might not be able to flip back in the book and see what the other choice may have led to, but don’t worry. There will be many more chances to come and many more adventures. Learn from your decisions and don’t look back, that isn’t the way you are going.
What is that old saying, fear is a great motivator, but the scariest choices can lead to the most beautiful results.