I recently tried windsurfing on my local lagoon. I was soon realising it was a lot harder than it looked. I tensed up, wobbled a lot and was so focused on not falling in I couldn’t move. I was well out of my comfort zone and ready to get out and back into dry land.
Then after falling in I realised the water was only waist deep and falling in didn’t hurt. Having discovered this I relaxed and kept going, falling in quite a few times, till I had mastered standing up and moving and even a couple of turns. After an hour I was knackered but over a post surf beer with my mate I was happily discussing how next time we should try it on the sea.
The comfort zone is a metaphor for where you feel ok about things, be they tasks, jobs, relationships or whatever you do. It is a nice place to be, for a while. You can get stuck in your comfort zone though. Your body will tell you first that you are…. You get restless.
Indeed many studies show how happiness is directly linked to having new experiences and feeling that you are pushing yourself. Without stepping out of the comfort Zone we get ennui and tend to yearn for a bit of a stretch or challenge.
Sometimes challenges or new things are given to us, other times we need to actively seek them out. Those that are thrown at us by life can take us even further out to a panic zone where the seemly high level of challenge simply freezes retreat right back into comfort zone again like a big warm blanket.
So it’s important to make sure you are regularly stepping into a learning or stretch zone, and that the level is manageable or you have enough support.
You also have to be prepared to ‘fail’ If you aren’t failing then you probably aren’t stretching yourself often enough.
To fail is to learn, just makes sure you do it in shallow water.
What’s going to be your next stretch ?
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