Monday, September 26, 2011

Stretching Out of Your Comfort Zone

I have a small card that I kept by my desk when I was working that said simply: " Do one thing every day that scares you."   Now I truly do not believe that that is meant to encourage one to go walk the high wire like the Flying Wallendas, unless that is your secret heart's desire.  Nor do I think it is exhorting you to do something stupid, like ride down the highway on a motorcycle, sans helmet and other safety equipment.   Granted both of those things would scare the daylights out of me; however, I think there is something a lot more fundamental in that short, direct statement.    And that is to push yourself out of your comfort zone.   

We all have a place where we are most comfortable whether we're talking about where we live, what we eat or what we do with our time.    Opportunities present themselves from time to time for us to move just a wee bit out of that zone and sometimes we opt in---other times we opt out of that opportunity to do something new and exciting.   Recently on a cruise with our son and his family, we were eating in the ship's dining room.   April (my DIL) had specifically requested that all the children (ages 7 -13) only be given the regular menu and not the children's menu.   Her rationale was that they would have healthier selections and it would give them the experience of eating from a more sophisticated menu. 

So the kids were studying the menu and Ben (age 10) announced that he would like to start his meal with some smoked duck, one of the appetizers.  I took advantage of this offering, too.  When the plates were brought to the table, the presentation was lovely and the food was very appealing.    Ben immediately began eating it and after eating every morsel on the plate proudly announced, "That was the best duck I have ever eaten!"    We all got a good laugh since we figured it most likely was the only duck he had ever eaten. 
Smoked Duck Appetizer

The important thing to take away from that little story is that Ben was willing to try something new and found out he liked it.   During the same cruise he also found out he didn't like Frog Legs, but his older brother, Gavin, discovered that he enjoyed them.     Larry took an adventure in eating by trying the Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Indian Cuisine they offered and Brian selected Escargot one night.    Every meal had something to tempt our taste buds.    And yes, some things were enjoyed and others not so much.    It really isn't about whether you like it or not, but more importantly, are you willing to try something new?  

In moving out of your comfort zone, you may be required to try something way out of that zone.   Opportunities sometimes present themselves in the most unexpected ways.     Maybe you will have the chance to lead a group or do some public speaking.    It so happens that public speaking is very high on the list of things that literally scare some people half to death.     Or maybe it's performing that is on your list of things you'd like to do but are holding back because of that old demon, Self Doubt and his twin brother, Fraidy Cat.   You just have to remember that even the Super Stars all had to start somewhere and they probably were not great when they started, but they all had potential to be great.   Now, no one is promising you that you'll be the next mega star known to one and all across the planet but how will you ever know what you have in you until you give it a go?  

And finally, one last word about moving from your comfort zone.    Is there something in your life that you KNOW you should be doing but are procrastinating about doing?    Some of these "really must dos" are secrets, known only to you and perhaps your maker.   It is that little nagging voice in your head that is pushing you to take care of something but you are resisting it and struggling to contain it in a corner of your mind.     Or maybe it is a dream, a wish and hope that you'll do something that matters---leave your mark upon the world, but you are waiting for the right time, the right place, for the mood to strike you.    

Whatever it is that you think you're meant to be doing or longing to do, keep in mind that time is a fleeting thing.     Once it trickles down through that hourglass, it won't be going back the other way.     When opportunity presents itself to do something different, make another choice, try a new path, think about that hour glass and how stealthily and quickly those sands slip on through the glass.   If you're waiting for the perfect time, the best moment, chances are pretty good it is right now.      Stretch yourself and reach for the stars:  they really are waiting for you and want you to succeed.      

Ben cruising to Mexico

Happy Trails,



  1. Both Ben and Luci really surprised me with how well they embraced the idea of not eating Chicken nuggets or PB&J sammies all week. I think they did remarkably well :) Thanks for the encouragement to step "outside of your comfort zone."

  2. I can attest from personal experience that Marcia is giving us all wonderful advice. Two of the toughest decisions I ever made were to write an undergraduate textbook when I was still a young untenured professor and to drop my engineering research and focus entirely on education for the rest of my career. I made both decisions in spite of the voices of many of my colleagues and the even louder voice in my head telling me that I was being stupid and throwing my career away--and I was seriously afraid that the voices were right. Both times my heart was telling me to go for it, though, and I listened to it and went for it despite the fear, and those turned out to be the two best decisions I ever made in my life (besides proposing to Rebecca, of course).


    P.S. I'm not sure, however, that either decision was as gutsy as Brian being willing to eat escargot.


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