It’s interesting how we desperately try to protect sameness and comfort. We defend our lifestyle choices and how we live our lives by saying things like …
- It could be worse.
- I could never do that.
- I could change if I wanted to.
- People will think I am weird.
- That will take too much time.
- That’s crazy.
- That’s too extreme.
- My husband/wife/children/friends/boss would never go for that.
And then, when we see other people making the changes we aren’t going to make, we justify our lack of action, by commenting on how their life circumstances make it easier or ok for them, but completely impossible or ridiculous for us.
I’m not preaching here. I do the very same thing, but the more I notice it, the easier it is for me to get uncomfortable.
For instance …
- When I started decluttering my home, I read blogs about radical declutterers. I thought that their lives must be empty and I would never declutter to that extent. I didn’t want my home to look cold or un-lived in. I was comfortable with my stuff. While the process was slow, I have given away enough stuff to downsize into a smaller space, reduce my monthly bills and have little left to declutter. My home feels more like a home than ever before and my life is far from empty. By leaving my comfort zone, I improved my surroundings.
- When I started eating less meat for better health, I thought things like juicing and raw diets were for crazy health fanatics. I also declared that I would never give up seafood. I loved eating oysters and lobster! Now I’ve been a vegetarian for years and have the confidence to experiment with even healthier diet options like juicing and reducing sugar/dairy/gluten. By leaving my comfort zone, I improved my health.
- When I started listening to Dave Ramsey’s message about living debt free, I thought, I could do that if I wanted to, but then I couldn’t take big vacations or drive nice cars. Today, I am debt free and car-free! By leaving my comfort zone, I improved my financial situation.
- When I read about people leaving their jobs to run their own businesses, I thought, I would love to do that, but it will never happen. I fired my boss in 2011 and now consider myself unemployable. By leaving my comfort zone, I created work I love and can help other people do work they love too.
Through each of those changes, I made excuses. I compared myself to other people. I got scared. I retreated and resisted. And then I leaned in. With each slow lean, I built confidence to lean further and then occasionally I jumped into a big change.
I want to be comfortable too, but have discovered that in discomfort you discover what you really want and need in your life for ultimate health, happiness and connection. In other words, discomfort leads to complete comfort. When you develop the confidence to leave your comfort zone, you open doors that you never knew existed.
3 steps to release the grip on your comfort zone
1. Lean in. Instead of overnight change, choose one small action you can make to move closer to the change you want. Hang out there for a bit. Get comfortable and then lean again.
2. Have an exit strategy. Change is only as permanent as you want it to be. To create more comfort in your discomfort, write down your deal breakers and plan to change direction if your approach gets too uncomfortable. Change is not about forcing things to be different and it happens more seamlessly when you can find that place between ease and strain.
3. Ask for help. You can do it alone, but it’s more enjoyable if you recruit support. Let people closest to know about the change you want to make. Ask them to join you, and if they aren’t ready or interested, ask them to support you. In some situations, it’s helpful to work with someone who isn’t in your immediate circle for information, inspiration and accountability.
Slowly, your comfort zone becomes smaller and with practice, patience and a little bit of leaning, you’ll discover a whole new world on the other side.
What is one change you’ve been resisting? How can you lean in today?