Next Stop – The Discomfort Zone
Routines are our comfort zones. They are predictable, effective and easy to maintain on autopilot. Our routines depend on the belief that we will succeed if we stay on the path we’ve created. But what happens when an unforeseen obstacle appears in the middle of our path? If
we try and find a way around it, we break the track we’ve been following closely. If we stick to the course, we are paralyzed behind an obstacle that we didn’t plan for. So what’s the right choice?
Well, as we all hopefully know, right and wrong when it comes to personal decisions is largely subjective. The truth is that no matter how committed we are to the paths we have set up and the routines we live by, external forces are always fair game. While the hope is that positive surprises come our way on our journey through life, the unexpected can often startle us and leave us a bit pessimistic. When we get so locked into an idea of how things are supposed to happen and what our path is supposed to look like, it can be easy to feel disappointed and even stuck in a discouraged state. When we feel stuck, we start thinking that things will never change and suddenly the autopilot system that we’ve been so dependent on feels more like a trap than a comfort zone.
While comfort zones are exactly that, comfortable, limiting our anxiety and maintaining a relatively low output of mental energy, they often fail to prepare for unexpected circumstances. When we are jolted by something new that we didn’t see coming, our comfort zone doesn’t include the tools to help us fully deal with a situation that is making us uncomfortable. When we break from the routines that have created an overwhelming safety blanket, we begin to see new possibilities that our brain may have automatically labeled as risky since it broke from our initial path. If you don’t perform activities that somewhat scare or challenge you, you miss out on growth opportunities. As the saying goes: no risk, no reward. If we don’t try something new out of complacency, we remain stagnant, achieving the same results.
Comfort zones are a psychological state that protects us and keeps us at ease and the last thing I would want any of you to do is go through life in a constant feeling of stress and panic. With that being said, everything in life is about balance. There is a time to feel rejuvenated and in control of your environment, continuing on a steady path and spending time to heal. There are also many moments to push through what is comfortable and safe. To, ultimately, expand your comfort zone by trying things that cause discomfort and doubt, allowing yourself to improve your skill set and realize how capable you are of overcoming challenges and succeeding even when things don’t go as planned.
Intentionality in life is a gift that we must continue to give ourselves, even in unfamiliar times. We will make mistakes along the way and we will have to adapt as our paths change. What is imperative in these moments, is to continue on. Find your way around the obstacle and embrace the new sights with excitement. You never know what new horizons you’ll come across, it may just be your best work yet. With that, I leave you with Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion: “every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”