Stuck in a rut? The importance of support from others, to get that smile back on your face
Have you ever:
- Felt like you were just going through the motions?
- Felt stuck in a rut?
- Felt like you had nothing to aim for?
- Felt like you didn’t know what to do next?
- Felt like you’d not got the courage to do anything?
- Felt like you wanted something different from now, but didn’t know what that was?
Well, I met 6 women who felt just like this so I volunteered to set up a women’s group to support them to improve their self-confidence, focus and set personal goals.
The introductory session was all about encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone. I shared with them the comfort zone model and said that as we went through the various sessions, there may be times when they’d feel a bit uncomfortable but urged them to take up the many challenges ahead.
We met in a café, which is local to the community and familiar to all the women as ‘the local drop-in café’. We looked at our surroundings and agreed the comfort zone was coming to the café, sitting in the same chairs, drinking the same drinks, eating the same food, talking about the same stuff, and doing the same stuff. We discussed how it was ‘run of the mill’ stuff, wasn’t really that demanding, and nothing much bothered or concerned them.
Then we started to question each other if they were learning anything new about themselves, where they stretching themselves or where they growing or experiencing anything new. The answer from everyone was no.
I explained that if they allowed it, they could move into the stretch zone (which sits just outside the comfort zone). It would be their choice to do so, and if they did, they would learn more about themselves. They understood they might feel a bit uncomfortable but it wouldn’t be too scary and at all times it would be their choice to stretch and challenge themselves.
I then went on to share the area beyond the stretch zone called the panic zone. They all reflected on personal examples where this would happen, and shared their thoughts on the panic zone:
- That would be where I freeze, learning just wouldn’t take place
- It would be almost impossible to think straight, never mind learn
- My mind would be completely blocked by an overwhelming sense of fear
- My energy would be totally zapped as I’d be trying to manage my stress and anxiety
Overall, we decided that spending any time here, would not be a pleasant experience, and would probably result in everyone slipping back to their comfort zone and back into old comfortable habits, forgetting they were here to stretch themselves.
We then agreed stepping out of their comfort zone was a personal choice, as well as a personal journey. They would step out of their comfort zone at their own pace and would choose how big or small their steps would be.
For me, the time spent at that first session exploring their comfort zones proved really valuable. It was amazing to watch each of the women at subsequent sessions, and hear how their steps had got bigger, as they started to get comfy with being un-comfy, and began to explore why they were making those steps and the benefits.
Six months later, and after:
- Exploring strengths
- Understanding purpose
- Setting personal goals
- Practising mindfulness
- Learning and sharing loads about each other
- Having lots of goose bumps and lumps in our throats
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling happy
- Laughing so much it hurt
- Making lots of personal progress
We had a celebration event today to mark the significant progress each and every one of the six women has achieved.
My parting gift was a journal for each of the women to remember to focus on the good things. Things that bring a smile to their face, make them feel good or make them feel proud. It’s a place to put anything in really as long as it’s a good, positive, happy thing.
After some exchange of gifts and some tears of celebration, they agreed a renewed focus for the local drop in café. A place to look back and recall all the good things, both big and small, that make them happy and bring a smile to their face.
I also went back to meet up with them some months later, where they shared their experiences and stories from their church family holiday together, and more importantly how they have taken personal responsibility for themselves, and changed their behaviours to meet their goals.
So, over to you
- What do you do to make you happy?
- What do you do to bring a smile to your face?
- What do you do to support other people be happy?
Stepping out of your comfort zone is a personal choice, as well as a personal journey. Sign up today and get my free guide to being a more effective leader by taking care of yourself.