While walking on the beach a few days ago, I overheard a conversation between a mother and her toddler. “Are you ready to get in the water?” the boy’s mother asked. The boy looked up and said to his mother, “I’m scared.” His mom didn’t miss a beat and replied, “It’s okay to be scared, but it’s important to try it anyway.” I was struck by what a powerful message that was. It’s a shame that more adults don’t take this advice. “Trying it anyway” is a core element of living life fully and enthusiastically. It’s also an important part of the refiring process that Ken Blanchard and I describe in our book, Refire! Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of your Life the Best of Your Life.
So, look around. What does your “comfort zone” look like? Do you eat at the same restaurant every Friday night and order the same thing? Do you drive the same way to work every day? Do you visit the same park so often that you no longer pay much attention to the birds, the trees, or the greenery? Do you spend most of your free time with the same group of friends’ weekend after weekend?
And why shouldn’t you do all these things? It feels good to be with close friends, the park is convenient and close to your house, and you love the chicken piccata from that little Italian restaurant. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with any of these choices, but doing the same things with the same people over and over again may leave you feeling—well, a little blah, a little bored, and a little under stimulated.
If what you have just read sounds vaguely familiar, you’re not alone. Without anyone else pushing us to try new things, we tend to dig ourselves deeper into our comfort zones and this often takes place without our even noticing. Busy schedules and simple habit can lead us to shut off our hearts and minds and just coast on autopilot.
So why do we act this way? Because it’s easy and familiar. Change, even a small change, can feel a bit uncomfortable, even scary, or at least requires some adjustment or having to learn something new. Is it too late to change? That’s the great news; It’s never, ever too late to “try it anyway.”
So, if you’re stuck in your comfort zone, snap out of it! What I am asking you to do is simple: do just one thing differently this week. Go to a new restaurant, and ask the server to bring you his or her favorite dish on the menu. If you don’t like it—hey, it’s only one meal. On the other hand, you may be surprised by how good something new can be.
What else can you do? Watch a different news channel, and get a new perspective. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while just to check in. Do something as simple as taking a more scenic route to work. The tricky part is to not over think it—just do it! This one small change may be just what you need to shake yourself loose from a case of the blahs, and may even feel so good, you’ll be tempted to try it again in bigger ways.
Now, who’s up for skydiving