Staring Down The Discomfort Zone

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Here’s the thing. How many times have I excused my own bad behavior, saying “I can’t (blank) because it’s outside my comfort zone”? How many times have I overstated the importance of something I’ve done, with a self-laudatory proclamation that “it was outside of my comfort zone”?

As I’ve tried new avenues for finding work, met new people in new places and with varying degrees of success (i.e., had a great time, still no job), I’ve been reflecting a lot about what I now see as the myth of the comfort zone. And all this time I was allowing myself to believe that I was taking care of myself! Oh, I was “taking care” of myself alright…walling myself in, cutting myself off, wallowing in inaction…all in the name of comfort!

So. Why a myth?

Consider the comfort zone to be the comfortable and familiar place you inhabit emotionally and physically. Then think about your experience. Ask yourself—and answer honestly—am I happy in this space? All the time? Some of the time?

If in your answer you admit to having moderate to high levels of unhappiness in your so-called comfort zone, ask yourself why you call an uncomfortable place a comfort zone.

What delivers comfort? Familiarity? Happiness? Satisfaction? Adventure? Peace? How much of that are you getting in your “comfort zone”?

Or is your comfort zone really a thick-walled box that you simply have no idea how to break out of?

If that’s the case, then right now is the perfect time to think about perspective. How we look at things influences our behaviors, attitudes, and choices…and it also has far-reaching impacts on people we come into contact with. The comfort zone is no exception.

I’ve decided that I’m going to look at my life and my actions as I have illustrated it above. There is no comfort zone. Rather there is a discomfort zone, a space of varying size between the known and the unknown. And we reflect the dark and shadowy space between onto the unknown, and view that as equally dark and shadowy, thus scary. And maybe the zone appears in different ways at different times…deep chasm, high walls, raging river…in any case it’s up to me to stare down the discomfort zone, to figure out how to get myself across the space between, to get to know the unknown…to open my mind and my heart to new things, to new challenges…to view my mastery of the discomfort zone as ongoing personal growth. To continue to leap across these zones, to scamper up over them, to crawl through them, to push them down…or, in some cases, to bang my head against them, repeatedly…

So forget about your comfort zone. Stop using is at an excuse for inaction or to overinflate your sense of accomplishment. Instead create and execute strategies for navigating the discomfort zone, to open yourself up to new things, new places, new people, new horizons, new heights to soar…new ways and new places to be the you that only you can be!

Go!

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You Say Va-Jetty, I Say Va-Getty (Oh, And I Ran My Fourth Half-Marathon)

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Here’s how it happens: I get intrigued by something then it builds and builds and builds, influenced by what I see and hear and read and feel, until I get so consumed, so obsessed, I can’t not make a move.

It happened to me on Monday in a Bed, Bath, & Beyond…the 20% off your entire purchase burning a hole in my pocket…I had to do it…it was time…I had to have…the…

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I combined a few different recipes with a bit of improv to make a Pad Thai-ish kind of thing. I think I ate about three pounds of squash. It was amazingly delicious. A bit of work to get all the squash converted to oodles of zoodles (zucchini noodles) and ssoodles (summer squash noodles), but time-work, not effort-work. The resultant big bowl of VOODLES was worth it!

I spiralized all my squash (a mix of zuke and summer), tried unsuccessfully to spiralize a carrot (shredded it with a peeler instead), and sliced three peppers (one each, red, yellow, and orange).

Then I mixed the sauce. That was 4T of The Heat is On spicy peanut butter. 2T of soy sauce. 2T of rice vinegar. 3T of fresh lime juice. Some cayenne pepper. Some chopped ginger and garlic. About 2t each of toasted sesame and coconut oils. I softened that all up in microwave so I could combine it. Tossed it on the veggies and let them sit. After a while I added them to my wok with a thin layer of hot water on the bottom. I started sautéing. I was worried about it not being saucy enough so I sprinkled a bit more soy sauce, rice vinegar, and lime juice on top. And some Sriracha for good measure. I started to worry that I was going overboard and got really worried at how much liquid there was and how thin it was…a sprinkle of corn starch later, it thickened up just enough, and in the end was perfect. I tossed in some sesame seeds and topped it with chopped cashews. I can’t wait to eat the —oodles cold for lunch today.

(UPDATE: I ate the leftovers cold for lunch. Straight-up awesome. I’m not even sure I knew that I wasn’t eating “real” noodles!)

Money well spent. $14.99 less 20%, worth it for the one dinner alone!

Who cares how you pronounce it?

Also, on Sunday, I ran my fourth half-marathon, finishing in 2:02. Not my fastest, not my slowest. If I can do that, you can do anything. So go. Start. Now. Push yourself. Challenge yourself. Be accountable to yourself. Forgive yourself. But get going. Only you can be the best you, so don’t waste that opportunity!