I have an incredible fear of heights.
Bouldering makes every muscle I have tighten up with anxiety.
And I don’t do heat well. If it’s over 75 degrees, I feel like I’m melting.
So of course I spent 16 days rafting the Grand Canyon – the land of sheer drops, lots of bouldering and 105+ degree temperatures.
Because catapulting myself out of my comfort zone provides me incredible clarity.
Some backstory: About a year and a half ago, my husband won a river rafting permit for the Grand Canyon. Some people wait a lifetime to win a permit. My husband has won two. If only he could use his superpowers to win the lottery, but I digress …
Mind you, Ron (my husband) and I are the Odd Couple of marriage. I love the city. He prefers living in the suburbs away from people. He’s quiet. I am … not. He loves camping. I would prefer a spa with daily massages. We make it work.
So when this trip became real, I knew I’d have to push myself. I’d rafted the Canyon before and I knew all the ways I’d be pushed:
- I’d have to take about three weeks off work – with no access to anything electronic.
- I’d be dealing with searing (and shadeless) heat for hours every day.
- I’d be around my fellow group members almost ALL THE TIME. For someone who is used to having hours of alone time, the social obligations were daunting.
- I would not be able to enjoy five minutes of my “normal” home routine – from what time I got up, when I would go to bed, what I would eat and how I would spend my time.
- I’d have to be careful all the time. I found a scorpion in my pants on day three. I almost broke my toe day 12. Not to mention the other bumps, bruises and general klutziness I experienced.
- And oh yeah. I could die. Or another member of my trip could die. There were two deaths within the 3-week period I was there.
Did I lose it during the trip? Yes (day three, 11 and 13.) Did I secretly wish I had stayed home and enjoyed my air conditioning? Yes.
Despite the pain (and yes, there was pain,) the experience was worth it. Jumping out of my comfort zone provided me some incredible gifts I wouldn’t have learned any other way.
Although I’m awfully good at providing well-meaning advice, I get stuck. And scared. And confused. I go on autopilot when I can’t think of what else to do. Instead of feeling energetic, my energy sits there and stagnates.
Maybe that’s something you go through, too.
Once I was back home and settled, I realized I could think more clearly. It wasn’t a case of “Heather finally took a real vacation.” It was more “Heather pushed herself and realized the benefits.”
- Things that seemed “impossible” before seem challenging now … but doable.
- I’m more able to let go of the things that don’t serve me (clients, busywork, emotions.)
- I feel less fearful and more confident. Heck, I crawled down a 25-foot rock wall. After that, I feel like I can do anything.
Plus, I feel like I can finally start making some pretty major changes. They don’t seem as daunting anymore. If anything, not making these changes seems like a scary alternative.
I’m sharing this with you because you may also need to jump out of your comfort zone and hang out on a virtual ledge. Instead of trusting your fears, you’ll need to “trust your feet” (as I heard over and over) and know that they’ll lead you where you need to go.
Granted, that’s harder to do when you’re home. You probably have set times you write, when you spend with family and when you work out (because you do exercise – right?) You may eat the same thing for breakfast because it’s easy. You may rely on your routine because it’s safe.
(I do the same thing.)
My challenge to you is to do something a little different every day. Work at a different cafe. Take a new route home. Write copy for a new vertical.
Then, see how you can really push yourself. If you’ve never run before, start running and sign up for a 5K. Jump out of an airplane. Take a few days off and refuse to check anything electronic.
The more you push yourself, the more you’ll learn. Sure, it will be scary. And you’ll kick back a number of times.
But the experience will be well worth it.
Where do I go from here? I’m still percolating on my options. There are times when I want to make a drastic change. Other times, I realize that I can make a bunch of little changes and see some big results.
All I know is, I’m ready to climb off that comfort-zone ledge.
C’mon. Why don’t you climb down with me? It will be fun.
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