How many of us as children aspired to be something daring, to do something adventurous, to become a singer, dancer, astronaut, fireman, actor, olympian or whatever it may have been? We were, for the most part, encouraged to dream big and think about all the things we wanted to do with our life. We daydreamed. We visualized it. We believed it was possible.
And then we grew up.
We got a job. We got a house. We got a spouse. We got children. We got comfortable.
And although the dream may still be there, or a new dream emerges now and again, the day to day activities that keep us in a perpetual loop of monotony keep us from pursuing the dream. We are not completely fulfilled. We long for more, yet we stay stuck in our day to day reality. We keep going to a job that ‘just pays the bills’. We stay in a relationship because it is easier than ‘being single’. We keep living a life that is comfortable instead of extraordinary. Why is that? Why is it that the comfort zone is, well, so darn comfortable? Even though we say we want more, why aren’t we willing to do something about it? Why do we stay stuck?
Because it is just that: comfortable. It may not be ideal, but it is what we know. The comfort zone feeds our need of being ‘good enough’ while feeding our fear of ‘not being good enough for more’. It feeds our fear of failure and drives our self-doubt. We justify our lack of taking action to go for our dreams by saying to ourselves, ‘This is a good life.” “I can handle – or barely handle – what I have, I’m not sure I can handle what might happen if I do something different.” The comfort zone beckons us to stay in a safe place. It is what we know. It is predictable. And although we may be very uncomfortable in our comfort zone, it is what we know how to manage. Stepping outside of that box, into the unknown is scary. We think to ourselves, “What if I fail?” “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if I lose people I care about because I changed?” “What if…..”
Being stuck in our comfort zone, even though it may not be comfortable, is what keeps us from being truly fulfilled. If we aren’t pursuing a worthwhile cause, a passion that is felt deep within us, something that lights us up inside, then we are just going through the motions. Existing. Is that truly living? Is that being the best we can be? Is that being the best ‘us’ for those around us? Do we want to exist or do we want to thrive?
What if instead we said to ourselves: “What if I do it?” “What if I succeed?” “What if this gives me everything I’ve ever wanted in life?” “What if this brings me greater joy and greater relationships and greater experiences?” “What if…..”
Imagine what it would feel like to go after that dream. What would it feel like to really live those dreams? I think so often the idea of having it, scares us, or we don’t believe it is possible, so we don’t think about it. We certainly are not focusing on it daily with intention! If we were, we would be creating it! So what would it look like if we actually did take action? Will it be uncomfortable? Absolutely! Because you are daring to do something different! You are daring to live your life instead of simply going through the motions. By stepping into the unknown, trying things on for size, experiencing new situations, it allows us to grow! We are either growing or decaying, there is no in between. It is the growth that keeps us alive, that builds character, that instills confidence, and that brings about the feeling of satisfaction for having accomplished something that has meaning for us. Not growing causes us to be complacent, to justify lack of growth. I often say ‘we can either make things happen or make excuses, we can’t do both.’
Going after our dreams with the right mindset is important. Knowing that we are embarking on a new adventure, let us be gentle and forgiving of ourselves. In the process of pursuing what it is we really want, we must be careful not to label each step as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Instead, I encourage us to say after each experience, ‘Was that effective or ineffective?’, ‘What can I learn from this?’ ‘How is this helping me on my journey?’ If we take each day as part of our growing process, that we need both positive and negative experiences to help shape us, to help us become better, then there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It is all simply part of the process. We must skin our knees in order to know to get back up, and then to go after it in a different way. Would we tell a child that falls down to not bother getting back up? Of course not. So why do we do it to ourselves? So often, as adults, when we try something new, if we don’t have success right out of the gate, we throw in the towel. We are our own worst enemy. We quit before we even get started. Or perhaps we stop before exhausting our resources. Building our skills takes time, trial and error. And the more we do, the better we get.
We each have the power within us to create an amazing life. We are not given a dream without the ability to see it through. The only thing that stops us is US. We allow ourselves to stay stuck. We allow ourselves to stay in a job, or a relationship, or a city, or whatever it might be, that is not fulfilling. If we truly want something, we will find a way. It’s true! Think about that for a moment. Think of a time when you really wanted something, and although resources may have been short, you figured out a way to get it. I can think of a time when I really wanted to move into this great house. I had no idea how it was going to happen. I was in the middle of a lease. I wasn’t even qualified for a loan. Yet I was so intent on having that house, that I didn’t allow anything to get in my way of seeking the resources I needed to get it. I had to break the lease by finding a new tenant, get qualified, gather money for a down payment and move. Which I managed to do all of that in 5 weeks and got the house.
We can be very resourceful when we decide to be.
Opportunities and resources surround us each and every day. If you make the decision that you are going to live with passion and purpose, to go after those dreams of yours with a ‘no matter what’ mindset, you will be amazed at what opens up for you. Not only will you build confidence and character in the process, you will become a light for many others. People want to be around those that are living full out. Don’t you? Isn’t it about time you found that child inside, the one that had big dreams and believed it was possible? I think it is. If not now, when?
Break out of that comfort zone. The life that you imagine is waiting for you!