Seemingly inspirational graphics on social media encourage people to reach way outside of their comfort zone, across wide and perilous chasms, because everything that’s out of reach is apparently, where the magic happens. Everything you want in life is “over there”, away from where you are. The subtle implication being, your puny insignificant self will have to embark on an epic hero’s journey if you ever hope to get over where the good stuff is.
Who comes up with this self-defeating crap?
I’m 100% for personal development and continuous improvement, and I agree that often means approaching things differently. To the risk adverse, that prospect can be overwhelming, but you’ve got to explore life and go through some trial and error, that’s how you learn and grow. The moment you realize that you need to do something differently to get different results, you’re already experiencing a sense of heightened anxiety. Why would you compound that stress by leaving your place of calmness and strength? Sure, sometimes you’ll spontaneously climb out on a limb to pick the best fruit, but you could also grab a ladder.
I reject models that encourage you to look at everything between where you are and where you want to be as a treacherous gap, or suggest a deficiency in you. You’re perfectly designed and evolved to solve problems with what you have, or to find ways to get the tools or skills you need to help you accomplish your goals. What you need to change is your model.
Don’t step outside of your comfort zone – grow it. Work on reducing the size and impact of your discomfort zone. This is more that a linguistic game of do the opposite. Visualize your discomfort as an orange block surrounded by a sea of comfort and certainty. Some people may find the block appearing tiny, for others it may loom large. Either way, focus on the area surrounding the block. That’s where your natural talents and gifts reside. It’s where you find your source of power and it holds your sense of peace. Contrary to current belief, this is also the area where magic happens.
The components of the orange block vary from person to person, but in general, it is discomfort, unease, anxiety and negative stress. Why would you knowingly throw yourself onto all that when the good stuff that makes you who you are is already surrounding it? The goal ought to be to make that block smaller so it’s no longer a burden weighing you down.
If your discomfort zone (or block) towers above you, your personality and values will determine if you address it with dynamite or a chisel. Stop thinking that you need to step away from your core self to grow. Stop stepping away from what gives you strength. Use that strength to crush, grind, chip away or otherwise erode the things that bring you discomfort. That’s where the real growth happens and it might look like magic to others, but it’s not. It’s you getting serious.