We all have our comfort zones. I for one am a massive culprit of staying firmly rooted within my comfort zone. At times in my life I have even reduced and reduced what constitutes my comfort zone until I am living my life trapped by my own invisible boundaries. The saying, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” is a common quote I see floating around the internet on living a life to the full and of personal growth.
According to this idea, all of our life’s adventures are achieved from pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone frequently, and although I agree that we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones sometimes in order to grow, I don’t quite follow the mantra “do something every day that scares you” because to be honest, if I do something that scares me on one day, I may need 2-3 days to recover and adjust.
This week for example, I have started running in the mornings in order to make sure I fit it in, don’t procrastinate it away for days, which turn into weeks, which turn into months at a time. Instead of always wishing, I’ve started just doing. However, that isn’t to say I have started ‘just doing’ for every aspect of my life that I have ever spent hours dreaming and wishing about because the drawback on the ‘just do it’ slogan is that I also need to be realistic. If I ‘just do’ everything I want to do, I will most certainly become overwhelmed and wind up achieving…nothing…nada…zilch…to accompany my already long list of regrets.
In order to start running in the mornings I had to think about each barrier that was stopping me from running for so many months: the why, the what and how to change it. One barrier I came across was that I didn’t know my way around my neighbourhood since I moved in December 2015. This prevented me from going out and running outside for quite some time. Once I did I restricted myself to the same route, road and park. Needless to say, my running routes became stagnant and boring.
Now I know the surrounding roads and areas more than a year ago. I know of more local parks, woodlands and all the roads to the next few high streets from riding the bus everywhere. I don’t fully know about all of the little roads in-between and this is OK. To solve the final blow of a conundrum of not knowing a perfect loop that starts and ends at my front door, I have started packing my oyster card with me so I can get a bus home if I need to. I have done this a few times now, and have actually never needed to use it – but the comfort of knowing I can get home via public transport is a safety net to my greater explorations of the SE postcodes of London.
Today though, I took an even more bold move than I have done in a good while. I had my tools with me: my oyster, my bank card and my phone – fully charged. I was prepared for any eventuality that might strike whilst running up a london suburbia street that I don’t know. I hadn’t studied the map, I hadn’t planned my route. All I had in my head when I left my driveway was the first road I was going to take. After that, the world was my oyster. The roads of SE london were at my feet and I had prepared to just go. With a push in my confidence and a wobbly step outside of my comfort zone that turn up a road that totally lost my bearings in relation to where I was vs home brought a few racing thoughts of panic.
“Should I turn back?”
“That road back there was a bus route I know”
“Where am I going to come out at?”
I didn’t turn back. I didn’t stop running. I didn’t panic – I Just kept going. I was running out of my comfort zone, quite literally. After I had finished my run I used my phone to find my way back to where I knew and walked home. I wasn’t that far away at all in the end. In fact, I was very much closer to home than I realised. It was fine. It was great. It was quite freeing knowing I just went. Although the anxiety was still there slightly, and even when I think about it now a pang of anxiety snaps in my chest but I did it.
I won’t be pushing myself out of my comfort zone for the rest of today though, or even at all tomorrow either. I am still quite fond of my comfort zone. I am still quite a homebody and find comfort in staying with what I know. I will however, keep pushing myself out there slightly over time in order to grow. It’s not that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone, it’s that growth starts at the edge of your comfort zone. From growth, we achieve and become more of what we want and less of ‘just is’. From growth, we see our limits and know our core. From growth, our fate is in our hands rather than our fate being at the hands of anything and everything except yourself.
From growth, I am going to become the best person I can be – and for me, there is no carrot on a stick more desirable than that.