Stuck In A Rut? Time To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Have you ever felt like you:
- Were just going through the motions?
- Stuck in a rut?
- Had nothing to aim for?
- Didn’t know what to do next?
- Didn’t have the courage to do anything?
- Wanted something different from now, but didn’t know what that was?
Well, I met 6 women who felt just like this, and wanted to change.
So I volunteered to set up a women’s group in the local community to support them to improve their self-confidence, focus and set personal goals.
The Comfort Zone
The introductory session was all about encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone.
As I shared Karl Rohnke’s comfort zone model with them, we discussed how during the 6 month programme, there may be times when they’d feel a bit uncomfortable. Despite feeling this, I urged them to take up the many challenges ahead.
We met in a cafe, which is local to the community and familiar to all the women as ‘the local drop-in cafe.’ Our first task was to look at our surroundings in relation to the comfort zone. We agreed the comfort zone was:
- Coming to the cafe
- Sitting in the same chairs
- Drinking the same drinks
- Eating the same food
- Talking about the same stuff
- Doing the same stuff
We discussed how it this ‘run of the mill’ stuff, wasn’t really that demanding. Nothing much bothered or concerned them.
Then they started to question each other if they were learning anything new about themselves. Where they stretching themselves? Where they growing or experiencing anything new?
The answer from everyone was no!
The Stretch Zone
I explained that if they allowed it, they could move into the stretch 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. We agreed at all times it would be their choice to stretch and challenge themselves.
The Panic Zone
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. It would probably result in everyone slipping back to their comfort zone, and back into old comfortable habits. This would push them back, 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.
Our Key Learning
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. I loved hearing how their steps had got bigger, as they started to get comfy with being un-comfy. They 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 to mark the significant progress each and every one of the six women had achieved.
There was a recognition that taking time out, away from your busy everyday lives, to focus on you, was essential. These sessions really were a safe space they could reflect, recharge and refocus on themselves and their personal goals.
In effect, they had found their real self.
Positive, Happy Experiences
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. Experiences that make them feel good, or make them feel proud. It’s a place to record anything in, as long as it’s a good, positive, happy experience.
After some exchange of gifts and some tears of celebration, they agreed a renewed focus for the local drop in cafe. 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. More importantly, they shared how they had taken personal responsibility for themselves, and changed their behaviours to meet their goals.
Time for you to reflect on what you do, to:
- Step outside your comfort zone
- Make you happy
- Bring a smile to your face
- Support other people be happy
Stepping out of your comfort zone is a personal choice, as well as a personal journey.
Andrea helps you focus on leading yourself first, so you can be a great leader. Start getting your regular dose of leadership tips and inspiration with the ‘Leadership Breather’ – encouraging you to give yourself a breather and take 5 minutes for you.