Sunday, 9 May 2010

The joys (and pitfalls) of the comfort zone

Last weekend I decided to do something a bit different. Instead of the usual lie-in, lunch and shopping, followed by a few mojitos, I attended a 2-day ‘inspirational and motivational’ course.

Always the cynic, I was sceptical from the start, refusing to wear my name badge and darting towards an empty seat on the back row (in case I fell asleep or needed to make a quick getaway).

The minute I sat down I’d resigned myself to the fact this course was going to be utter rubbish. No doubt the speakers would be preachy and unqualified do-gooders and it would be a total waste of time.

As time went on, my train of thought lost all sense of logic. I looked around me. No one looked like my kind of person. They all looked a bit weird. It could be a cult. What if they brainwash me and then, when I’m least expecting it, kidnap me and bundle me into the back of a van?!

I felt tense. I was outside my comfort zone and I definitely didn’t like it. I longed for my familiar Saturday routine; my lie-in and shopping. Panicking slightly, I checked out the windows to see if they provided a viable escape route.

All of a sudden I was brought back to reality by the sound of a woman’s soothing voice. I thought I may as well hear it out for a while. I could always scarper at break time if it wasn’t my kind of thing.

Fast-forward an hour and I was on the edge of my seat hanging off the woman’s every word. My earlier fears had completely vanished. I’d learned it was perfectly normal to move outside your comfort zone. In fact, by getting out of bed and attending the course I’d actually taken myself into ‘stretch zone’ without even realising.

I pinpointed my fears and ‘limiting beliefs’ and found myself telling total strangers my life story. The speakers encouraged us to set lifetime goals for ourselves and break them down into five achievable steps. Suddenly my crazy fantasies and daydreams actually became realistic.

By the end of the course I felt on top of the world. I’d realised my biggest limiting belief was a lack of confidence in myself and my general ability. I always look at others and think they're better than me.

But last weekend changed my entire way of thinking. Obviously I’m not planning to become an egotistical bag of hot air any time soon, but I’ve definitely got some new-found self belief. I've even decided to leave my job so I can focus 100 percent on becoming a journalist. 

The moral of the story? Ditch the shopping and take yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while. You never know where it might get you.

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