There it is again, the Instagram post screaming ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. Often accompanied by some incredible photo of a woman hanging off a cliff or a man staring wistfully off across a desert plain…
Pretty for sure… but how much does the message sink in?
Women are funny creatures, awesome, but funny!
Since the dawn of time we have put others first, sacrificed, stayed safe and been bound by a tendency for control and perfection.
So it’s a nice thought isn’t it, stepping outside of the comfort zone?
Doing that requires putting ourselves in a situation where we have no control, little ability to predict the outcome and accepting the high probability of looking like a world class nutter!
So why would we do it?
I’ll get to that in a minute - but just for a few moments I’d like to look at the comfort zone a little more.
Our comfort zone is essentially the home of our ego.
Before you throw cleats at me… I don’t mean the ego most of us are used to, e.g. a man leaning back in his chair with fingers laced behind his head and legs wide open.
No, I mean the ego - which is the need to look good and be right.
In our comfort we know what to do to look good. We know what to say. We know how to react. We can be right. We can predict the future.
We know who to hang out with, which way to drive, what to say and how to feel.
It’s safe, it’s nice, it’s predictable.
The people we hang out with are also a comfort zone, they don’t challenge us, they have similar values, outcomes, finances, physical condition, happiness level… I could keep going but you get the point!
When you step outside of your comfort zone all those niceties dissapear, you don’t have the same feeling, you don’t know how to look good and you sure as hell don’t know how to be right!
Why would you want to do that?!
It goes against every fibre of our natural being. We are designed to conserve energy, both mentally and physically.
Far out it sounds like I’m building a case for NOT pushing the limits… time to tack (sailing reference for all you non-adventure heads)
So why would you want to step outside of your comfort zone?
Because it’s where the magic happens. Cue Instagram picture.
When you step outside your comfort zone… MORE than once… you build a new ‘normal’.
Your point of reference expands, you begin to believe things are possible, you build courage.
When you overcome one challenge you create neural patterns which allow you to overcome challenges in other area’s of your life.
When I started riding mountain bikes at the tender age of 24 I was a total numpty, falling over left right and centre and finally sitting down like a 7 year old girl and crying on top of the mountain!
But I HAD to get down. No one was going to help me. I didn’t want to. I REALLY didn’t want to.
Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to be an adult and not be able to do something!?!
Wait… of course you do.
It happens every time we step outside of your comfort zone.
As I was sitting at the top of the mountain considering the legitimacy of calling the rescue helicopter to come get me, I had a defining moment of pulling up my big girl panties and rolling the bike down the mountain.
I was terrified. I was out of control. I was barely holding myself together.
And then magic happened.
I was doing it… and I wasn’t dying. The wind was rushing past my ears, the tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was doing it!
It was possible.
No matter how much I whinged, complained and threw tantrums it was possible.
As I pulled up in the car park, bruised, exhausted and thoroughly shaken I realised I’d been spending the last few years holding myself back. Terrified of what lay ahead of me. But just like mountain bike riding, when you just trust your instincts and let go of the need to be in control anything is possible.
I started taking more risks. I started a business, fell in love, and took up adult gymnastics.
I started to believe in myself.
And that, my friends, is the power of stepping outside of your comfort zone. THIS is why life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Because you NEVER know what you are capable of until you push yourself to find the answers.
Life is scary until you find the beauty in the challenge, the opportunity in the frustration and unlock just how incredible you truly are!
So what do you want? Relationships, wealth, happiness? The answer is found in adventure.
Get out. Breathe. Experience. Learn. Grow. Love.
I love adventure, my shin scars prove it!
By Lauren Heyes from Moxxi