At the risk of sounding obvious, I’m going to make a statement that, at first glance, seems like a no brainer. However, in reality, not only is it a statement that must be made – it is a statement that results in deep, difficult, daily work.
To make personal and/or professional change and growth, we must be willing to leave our comfort zone.
Obvious? Yes. Easy? No!
Most of us hope for more – perhaps it’s tangible, such as a better car, a more efficient home, or a long and lovely vacation. Maybe it’s intangible, such as great communication skills, world peace, or a deeper understanding of math and science.
- More money
- More time
- More love
- More inner peace
- More skills
- More friends
- More respect
- More adventures
Each and every one of us can associate with this. Each and every one of us has our own list. We wish for these things – we talk about them, think about them, feel lousy, jealous, or sad without them, we work for them, and, many of us, fail to achieve them.
Why? Once again, I will state that very obvious sentence – To make personal and/or professional change and growth, we must be willing to leave our comfort zone.
Here’s the catch – we must STAY out of our comfort zone. Eventually, the pliability of our comfort zone
will allow it to stretch and grow and catch up with our new life. But we have to stay out of it long enough to allow it to grow.
Here’s an example from my own life – perhaps you can relate:
I have a home office. Said room also doubles as guest room, craft storage, and catch-all room (AKA – shove those things in here and shut the door. We have company coming for dinner). What does this mean? It means as I write this, I’m at the kitchen table because my office is, well, shall we say, full.
My Comfort Zone:
- Bitch about my inability to use this room.
- *Binge clean it several times a year. Swear I have changed my ways.
- Blame my husband for how messy it is.
- Blame the universe for a lack of the right office equipment.
- Blame my daughter for having too many toys.
- *Make feeble attempts to clean just my desk but not the room.
- Just give up on the whole thing and work in the kitchen and dining room.
Notice my attempts at leaving my comfort zone – but I quickly return (these are marked with the *). To make permanent change, we must be willing to pack our bags and make the sustained departure from the place of our big ol’ Lazy Boy chair – our comfort zone. For some of us, baby steps are best. For some of us, huge giant leaps for humankind are best. For me, it is that latter.
To make permanent lasting change, do this:
- Clearly articulate the goal – do this in every way to please and delight the senses. For example, verbalize it, make a vision board, go smell new office furniture, feel the wide-open canvas of a well-organized room.
- When verbalizing, make it present and positive: My office is clean, organized, and serves as a space of inspiration and creativity. Note the difference in: I will have a clean office that doesn’t also serve as a storage room and guest bed.
- Create a target completion date – When setting a date, create a realistic timeline that allows you the flexibility to reach the goal but not too much time, that you’ll stall out. Keep creative tension – enough that it’s achievable yet motivating.
- Find an accountability partner – Tell someone about your plan – verbalize your goal and show them your vision board. Ask them to help you by holding you accountable.
- When asking someone to hold you accountable, be specific about what this means. Be clear about how they can best support you. For example, “Will you call me once a week for the next eight weeks and ask me the following questions: Where are you putting your extra things? Does your space allow for creativity and innovation? On a scale of 1-10 (10 being that you’ve met your goal) where are you this week?”
- Make a plan and create measurable goals – these might be monthly, weekly, or daily depending on
your goal and your personality. These measurable goals make the business of progress very clear – you either did it or you didn’t. Meaning, you either stepped out of your comfort zone or you didn’t.
- Example of measurable goal includes:
- Clear three shelves in garage closet to be used for storage.
- Talk to partner about no longer using my office as storage.
- Refer to space as My Office rather than Spare Bedroom.
- Draw My Office on graph paper – create most efficient and inspirational use of space.
- Example of measurable goal includes:
To be clear – for most people, this process is, all at once, motivating, awesome, fun, scary, awful, painful, and super sucky! Change is hard. Making permanent change is really, really hard. Blame is much easier. Staying with the status quo is usually the path of least resistance. Stepping out of your comfort zone sounds all sexy and exciting but, when it comes down to actually doing it and sticking to it, it can be lonely, isolating, and emotional. This leads to final step:
- Have your support team ready – This might include your BFF, your accountability partner, your life partner, your colleagues, etc. As with your accountability partner – let these folks know how they can best support you and help keep you focused on your goal. For me, in My Office situation, I’ll ask my mom and Dad for support (to provide childcare). My husband for support (allowing me to complain about the mess without taking it personally), and my BFF for support by talking me through my “forget it, let’s just grab the bottle of wine and chocolate bar” moments.
You can do this – whatever, this is – lose the weight, enroll in the graduate program, go to the Bahamas, create a strong circle of friends, hire the best employees, apply for the better job, or clean up the damn office.
We got this!
The key is, as Einstein eluted to, if you’re doing what you’ve always done, you’re still in your comfort zone and change is but a fantasy. We know this, right? It’s obvious. And yet, here I sit at the dining room table!
Tiffany is a Transformative Life Coach and Consultant with Evolutionary Consulting. Visit www.evolutionary-consulting.com