Sometimes it feels like being able to see the light but not being able to find the switch to turn it on. Have you ever known what you want and known, intellectually, what to do to accomplish it, but have not been able to move forward. You are not alone, you will often here me say that because the truth is we often feel alone in our struggles for success, but there are many people who deep down feel they too can accomplish more in life, but they feel stuck. I’m familiar with this feeling, I felt that way for the longest time. However with the help of my coach, day by day, week by week I peeled back the layers of my subconscious and discovered my truth. What I learned was over the years I had developed layers of protection against painful situations, these layers were great at protecting me from pain but in turn they were also great at preventing me from taking risks. When we try something new and step out of our comfort zone, we become uncomfortable and vulnerable. We don’t know with certainty how it will end up and if we have developed methods to protect us from painful situations, the likely hood is we will not want to risk this vulnerability. The good thing about all of this is that we have a choice. We can choose to stay safe because the fear of failure is too great right now, that is a choice. If we choose to try new things with the understanding they might or might not work that is also a choice. I have, in my life, done both. Sometimes it is nice to stay safe, a bit like sitting around the fireplace during a winter storm. It is comforting and comfortable and it feels safe. Sometimes for me, it is fun and scary to get out of the comfort zone and try something new, a bit like skiing my first black run. I didn’t know what I would encounter but I knew how I would feel when I got to the bottom and I knew I would develop new skills that would help in the future.
How we think about our circumstances and our goals and desires generates our feelings and emotions and this in turn often determines our actions and results. The first time I attempted to ski a black run I kept thinking about what could go wrong, what if I couldn’t stop, what if I fell and hurt myself, what if I ran into someone else and hurt them? The result was it took me, what felt like, hours to get down the run and I basically side stepped the whole thing. When I was finally able to ski down my focus was very different. I thought about what technique would work best, when would be the next best place to turn and how I would I celebrate my success. Now don’t get me wrong, I was not elegant and graceful and I fell a few times but it was fun and exhilarating and the overall result was that my confidence grew and my technique overall improved. This principle applies to all kinds of situations, maybe you are afraid to speak up at a meeting, maybe you are afraid to apply for a job whatever thoughts you have at that time are going to lead to your actions and outcomes. What is it that you would love to do but have not yet been able to attempt? Here are some ideas to help get you started.
- Write a description of what it will feel like when you have accomplished your goal? What difference will it make to you or your life? Why is it so important?
- Think about how you can break it down into small milestones or as Amy Cuddy describes in her book “Presence”, how can you focus on the process and take small nudges along the way.
- What thoughts are you having that could be creating your barrier? Then ask yourself, What would I do if that were not true/real?
Sometimes we are forced to do things or go places we would rather not and sometimes we do it out of choice. Doing it out of choice provides us with the experience of knowing we can not only survive but it helps to thrive. Trying something new and getting out of your comfort zone has many benefits, Carolyn Gregoire describes six in her article in the Huffington Post. You can start with something small, maybe try a new grocery store, wear a different color to work, what ever you decide make a choice that makes you happy.