A few years ago I embarked on an adventure.
It was a pretty big deal at the time. One of my more adventurous adventures. A MAJOR shift.
Back then my life was a carefully created comfort zone. My job was a means to an end but generated enough income to keep me treading water. Comfortably.
A previous business (ad)venture had left me in debt. Which meant no surplus cash for playing. Or fun.
And I could have stayed there. In that comfort zone. Treading water.
It felt familiar and safe. No unexpected surprises.
But it also became stagnant. Predictable. Uninspiring.
Yet, I started to notice the scent of "possibilities" in my midst. I began to feel stirrings of excitement, eagerness and anticipation. And it gained momentum. Pretty quickly.
Yup, change was imminent.
So, I took a deep breath, put on my Big Girl Panties, and jumped.
I quit my job. Sold my house (and most of my belongings). Then I moved to a small town in a beautiful valley surrounded by majestic mountain ranges. Heaven.
I found a cottage on a wine estate and embraced the adventure. My new life.
For the first time ever, I was completely and absolutely FREE. No rules. No responsibilities. No dependents. No-one else to consider.
I was finally debt free too! Brilliant!
Comfort zone be damned! I loved the "newness" of my life. New environment. New career. New people. New opportunities.
And I've been thriving on that for quite a while. I've "stretched myself" in new ways. I've had a lot of fun, tasted a lot of wine. I've met loads of new people and formed some solid friendships. I've also explored the mountains and surrounding towns.
And over time, life became peaceful. Mindful. More simple.
It's all EXACTLY what I wanted. Until recently.
Because it's now become my norm. It's what I experience every day. And that feeling of sameness is creeping in.
Yup, it become my new comfort zone.
I still love where I live. And my career. But I'm feeling the need for more. More excitement. More newness.
It's time to stretch myself again. Expand. Grow.
Because that's part of being human. It's how we're wired. We never "get there". Or stop wanting more.
We need to grow. Expand. Broaden our horizons. Feel the exhilaration of reaching beyond our fears, or perceived boundaries.
And I know, it doesn't always need to be a BIG adventure. Sometimes we just need to add to our current existence. Make it more interesting. And exciting.
Feeling eagerness and anticipation should feel familiar. Not something fleeting and rare.
So how do you know if you're in a comfort zone? Easy"¦
You wake up uninspired. Any thoughts of the day/week ahead are dull and heavy.
You're bored. Maybe at home. Or at work. Perhaps in your relationship. Possibly all three.
You can't remember the last time you felt excited. Exhilaration simply never features.
Any thoughts of trying something new are an effort. It's just easier to take the path of least resistance.
Whilst you may not be unhappy, life just feels mundane.
You're lethargic. You avoid anything requiring any form of effort.
If you've answered "yes" to any of the above, it's time to shake it up a bit. Add some flavor. Ignite a new fire (so to speak). And push beyond those self-imposed boundaries.
I've a few suggestions for that too. But first, take special note of the following:
Moving beyond the confines of a comfort zone takes EFFORT. And COURAGE. You're taking the path of MOST resistance. So, you'll feel uncomfortable. And your inner chatterbox (aka the ego) will do its level best to talk you out of it.
But your rewards will far outweigh any discomfort.
The joy and exhilaration you feel after pushing through fear are SO worth it.
So, just feel that feeling of resistance (however it shows up) and DO IT ANYWAY!
Here are a few suggestions that may inspire some change in your life:
Take a new route to work. Preferably a less congested one. Leave home a bit earlier so that you can take your time and notice the new surroundings.
Sign up for a new class at the gym. Something that's always felt a bit daunting. I can bet it won't be as bad as you initially imagined.
Try some new recipes for dinner. Something you've never tried before. Something exotic.
Plan a road trip instead of yet another weekend of binge-watching on Netflix.
Think of that thing you've always admired yet feared (public speaking, rock climbing, asking that special someone out for a date, or entering your first marathon). Then take just one step towards conquering that fear.
It could be signing up for a course. Finding a phone number. Or sending in your entry.
Celebrate your action (very important!)! It's a brilliant start!
Now take the next step. And the next. Celebrating each small victory.
Before you know it well on your way to a new experience. And a healthy helping of exhilaration.
Do I know where I'm headed next? Nope.
But I've got a few ideas. And they're all a bit scary. And uncertain.
Which is perfect.