By Melissa Ford
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Lean into your edge. Be bold.
These expressions have become so commonplace that even Hollywood celebrities are talking and tweeting about making conscious choices to s-t-r-e-t-c-h beyond your comfort zone and grow.
Tired cliches, to be sure, yet they contain wisdom nonetheless.
Having spent years trying to be comfortable before attempting anything risky, I know from firsthand experience that staying inside your comfort zone, leaning into your middle and being unadventurous creates a mediocre life, a life of limited experiences.
Safety becomes your focus while brave action takes a back seat.
Deep down all of us need to feel safe. So we use comfort to trick ourselves into trading away our lives in exchange for a false sense of security. We rationalize, analyze, plan, take a few cautious steps. We seek out feedback from friends and family on our prudently constructed plans. All good stuff for playing it safe and avoiding mistakes (maybe) but useless when it comes to turning dreams into projects.
Years ago I longed for a thriving coaching practice but my attempts to build one were futile. In a last ditch effort to save my dream, I signed up for a conference on client acquisition. The guy leading the seminar wasn't interested in dissecting perceived obstacles or getting to the root of childhood injustices. He had one focus: ACTION. Were we filling our calendars with potential client conversations, creating community, speaking to groups, getting out in the world and helping people? Energizing and terrifying!
During a break I confided in one of the other participants that I really needed to feel okay with this idea of putting myself out there. Not in the least bit sympathetic, she matter-of-factly stated, "I wouldn't waste a lot of time getting comfortable if I were you. Just do what needs to be done." She then abruptly walked away, leaving me to digest my newly discovered truth.
Prioritizing comfort creates excuses. Being in action generates results.
From that moment forward I stopped seeking comfort. I no longer told myself stories about why I couldn't accomplish my goals or lead the life I desired. I put total focus on doing whatever I needed to do to get the results. Scary, uncertain, definitely outside my comfort zone which was where my wonderful and immensely satisfying life was waiting for me, and where yours is waiting for you.
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