Is Your Comfort Zone A Bit Too Comfortable?

An image of a person wrapped up in a comfy duvet

There’s no better feeling than being all cozy and comfortable, is there? But is your comfort zone a bit too comfortable?

I’ve been talking about challenge this month, as it’s an appropriate theme if you are looking for personal development. Because all of our growth comes through some form of challenge.

But sometimes we’re all good where we are.

Particularly if you’ve been through a rough time already. Maybe external events have taken the stuffing out of you. And goodness knows, we’ve all had our share of that.

In fact, we need some time to recalibrate and catch up with ourselves. Assimilate the learning, if you like.

And it can feel good to just relax and enjoy living for a while, without the stress of having to ‘do’ or ‘be’.

But it’s very tempting when we get into this state, to stay there. And the longer we do, the more difficult it can be to change.

If we’re not used to getting out of our comfort zone every now and then, we can become prone to not trying. We start to experience doubts about our ability. The fear kicks in. We may even actively avoid situations that we know will make us uncomfortable.

We might develop behaviours that we think are keeping us safe. But in fact, these may lead us to avoid taking any action. And because our fears aren’t being tested, we fuel the unhelpful thoughts that keep us stuck.

Have a think about the last time you took on a new challenge.

  • Was it by choice, or did it feel forced?
  • How did you feel before you started? Were you excited about the new opportunity, or did you feel some resistance?
  • How did you feel once you got going? Did it feel better or worse than you expected?
  • Are you more or less likely to take on another challenge now?

We will experience different challenges in different ways. And some will be more welcome than others.

The key is to find a balance between feeling comfortable, whilst still choosing to stretch ourselves.

Next time, I’ll be sharing some ideas of how we can introduce challenge in a more comfortable way, if you need a little nudge out of your comfort zone!

 

Photo credit: Tracey Hocking on Unsplash

How Happy Are We Really?

How happy are we really?  And, how happy are we meant to be?

There’s a lot of talk about finding our joy, or happiness, just now.  We’re told to look for the good in the every day.  We must seek it out, in case we forget what it looks like.  Or in case we forget how to find it.

Which in itself can just add even more pressure.  Am I happy enough?  Am I meant to be this ludicrously smiley person all the time, and never get upset, scared or lonely?  And if I’m not happy, will people think I’m miserable, and does that make me a bad person?

The truth is, none of us can be happy all the time.  Of course we can’t.  But that doesn’t mean we should put up with situations that are making us unhappy.  Nor should we feel that we’ve got to settle.

What’s happy for you, isn’t for me

And it’s also good to remember that what happiness looks like to me, will be different for you. Our happiness thresholds aren’t set in stone either, and what made us happy yesterday, can bring up very different emotions today. Because it’s all about context.

Some of the simplest pleasures in life can make us the happiest we’ve ever been.  Finding something that you thought was lost.  Mastering something for yourself without having to rely on anyone else.

Waking up next to someone gently snoozing on the pillow next to yours can either be one of the best feelings, or the loneliest, for example.  I’ve known both sides, with the same person.  Again, it depends on context.  There’s no one state or another that is the right fit for everyone. And what’s right for us today, may not be tomorrow.

And it’s not just the small things.  Even the biggest achievements or successes can leave us feeling deflated.  Years of effort and hard work, and yet we don’t feel any different or better for it.

Working towards something, assuming that it will bring us automatic happiness, is a sure way to cultivate more of the unhappiness.

But by being aware of what makes us truly happy – big thing or small – we can start to follow it, and seek it out.

We need to create our own definition of joy. No one can explain it to us, or tell us what we need to do.

So yes, go find your joy.  But do it just for you, no one else,

Photo credit:  Simon Maage via Unsplash.com

How To Stay Focused

Arrow hitting a target

Rounding up this month’s theme by sharing a few ideas of how to stay focused.

Over the last month, I’ve also talked about things that can get in the way and what happens when we’re not focused, so check out the previous posts if you need some further tips too.

Remember Your Why

Having the end goal or outcome in mind is vital – if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, then you won’t achieve it. Seems obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted by shiny things on the way, so keep coming back to your ‘why’.

But Be Flexible

If your ‘why’ has changed or the goalposts have moved, be flexible enough to alter your course. Sticking to a plan that is no longer working or relevant will hold you back. If you need to change,  it will give you better momentum in the longer term.

Eliminate Distractions

Being aware of where your time and energy goes can help to get rid of things that will distract you. Whether it’s your own actions, such as scrolling social media or making unhealthy choices. Or external energy zappers, such as people who need your attention, but aren’t supportive in return.  Be aware of where you might need to set some boundaries around your time.  Be firm but fair to make sure that your needs are being met too.

Find Your Tribe

Connect with others who have similar goals. It’s difficult to keep motivated when no one else around you ‘gets it’.  If you can find people who have been where you are, or are on the same journey, it’s so helpful.

Stay In Balance

Keep a healthy balance of all the other things going on in your life too. When you take time away from goal-getting, you allow space for your brain to assimilate the learning you’ve been doing, and it creates space for creativity. The best ideas usually come when you’re at rest…for lots of people it’s in the shower or washing the dishes.

Accountability

Regular check ins are key. As with ‘remember your why’, being able to recognise if something’s not working, or other areas of your life are being neglected, can help you to make changes quicker.

Just some food for thought if you’re looking to stay focused.

Photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

The Perils of a Fixed Mindset

So, I started off in last week’s post looking at different forms of mindset, and how the most common that we hear about are the ‘growth’ or ‘fixed’ mindsets.  These terms would seem to suggest that we are either one or the other, and don’t take into account how we change and develop through our experiences. But why does it even matter?

Because the way we approach things is hugely affected by our mindset, and therefore our life experiences will be affected by our mindset. And if we have a fixed mindset, we will tend to think in two ways:

  1. We think of ourselves as having traits or the type of personality that is rigid – this is just how I am. This is me. I’m just unlucky, lazy, I can’t do this/that/the other.
  2. And conversely, we think that other people who are successful/happy or whatever, are just born that way. They are lucky, things seem to land in their lap. We can fail to recognise the work, study, effort that they’ve put in, to get to where they are.

Being closed off in this way can actually contribute to keeping us stuck. If I feel that I’m not a lucky person or good things don’t happen to me, then it can stop me from being open to new experiences, or putting myself out of my comfort zone. And if more rubbish things keep happening, then that is just reinforcing my beliefs.

Even taking the smallest steps to challenge our thoughts when we hear ourselves having these fixed ideas, can help us to grow. Change is possible. But it needs action kicking it up the backside first.

Next week, I’ll be looking at some tips on how we can start to develop a growth mindset, and get things moving.

 

 

Photo credit:  https://unsplash.com/@cristina_gottardi

 

Is it all in the mindset?

When it comes to personal growth, our mindset is probably one of the most important tools that we have.  It affects the way we think, how we feel and therefore, how we act.   And we hear about mindset a lot these days.

You may have heard terms such as ‘fixed mindset’ or ‘growth mindset’, as these are now commonly used phrases to describe different ways of thinking (for more on these, read the brilliant book ‘Mindset’ by Dr Carol Dweck, where these terms were first discussed).

And the effect of mindset is also used to describe success or failure in specific areas of our lives, such as with the terms “scarcity mindset”, or “abundant mindset”.

Although these would seem to suggest that there are polar opposite modes of mindset, it doesn’t mean that we are one or the other.   We may have particular personality traits that lead us to be more prone to a fixed mindset, but there are other factors that affect this, such as our past experiences.   If we have had a number of setbacks, or if we feel unsupported or criticised when we get things wrong, then we will tend to have a lower level of confidence, which in turn affects how we think about new challenges.

But the good news is that we can learn skills and techniques that can help us have a more positive mindset, and which can lead to us being more likely to seek out new opportunities to learn and grow, and get out of our comfort zone.

My concern however is that a lot of the messages we hear right now are suggesting that this is a simple and instantaneous fix – we are surrounded by posts that say, “think positive” or “you can do anything you put your mind to”.

How often have you heard phrases like this and felt ‘ugh’.  If you’re in a place where you are feeling flat or uninspired, the thought of thinking positively can leave you frustrated. Or it may even make you feel worse, if you can’t seem to shift your mindset in that moment.

Undoubtedly, the way in which we approach any situation in our lives is affected by our mindset towards it.  If we go into a situation almost expecting it to be disappointing or that we may fail, then it becomes more difficult for us to be successful.   If we go into the same situation with a more open and relaxed mindset, we may not be any more likely to succeed, but we have less attachment to the outcome and can be more willing to learn from the experience, then we are more likely to give it another go the next time. And this is where we learn skills like resilience and strength – it isn’t about hitting the target first time, its about the journey we take to get there, and where that propels us on to next.

Over the next few weeks, I will be taking a deeper look into mindset – what does a fixed mindset look like and how does it affect our successes, how can we build a growth mindset, and also are there any other options around mindset – do we have to be going for growth all the time?

 

Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

Passion is contagious…in a good way

Of course, I couldn’t let today pass without giving a nod to Valentine’s Day!  And if there’s one thing more attractive than a good heart, it’s an active and engaged brain.

Our brain needs new connections, literally, to keep functioning.  It also needs to keep connecting to the world and learning new stuff to keep growing and thriving.  And having a positive curiosity about the world and people, also helps to keep us young.

Getting curious and being open to new experiences can bring about all sorts of opportunities we might not even have considered.  Have you ever put off doing something, such as trying a new food, because you didn’t think you’d like it, but it turns out that actually, you do (hello olives!!).  Or have you avoided speaking to certain people who you didn’t hit it off with initially, only to later find out we actually have a lot in common.

Our tastes and likes change over time, so if we’re stuck in thinking about what (or who) we liked years ago, we could be blocking out all sorts of magical things.

Be open, stay curious.  Life might just surprise you!

 

 

Photo credit:   Kashawn Hernandez via Unsplash.com

From little acorns…

From little acorns….

So, how’s January going? Whether you started the year with big intentions or are still easing yourself in gently, it’s all good.

An hour is made up of minutes. A week is made up of days. A year is made up of months.

Everything starts out in one place, and then develops into something else. Nothing gets from here to there in a second (ok, maybe a MotoGP bike!).

All of the separate elements come together to make something bigger, but each element also stands on its own merit.

A simple acorn is a beautiful thing in its own right…cute as a button, with it’s own little hat. Even if it did nothing but exist in this state, we could still appreciate it. But knowing what we know about the majestic oak that it’s destined to be, all proud and mighty, just adds to the wonder of it.

Every dream, goal, or little acorn, holds the key ingredient to turn one little thing into something even more wonderful…potential.

Photo credit: Eriks Abzinovs @pixworthmedia via Unsplash.com