Q: I know I need to be reaching outside of my “comfort zone” in order to make things happen in my life, but I seem to keep falling back into old habits. How do you find ways to continue to push yourself in those ways?
A: This has actually been a real and true education for me. And I want to sympathize with not just your question, but your desire to walk that razor’s edge occasionally. I have to admit that I came by an ability to get out of my comfort zone by default. I married Greg. And he is truly a person who wouldn’t know how to do anything but take the road less traveled. His very nature is to push and reach for that which would be outside of most people’s field of vision. Not because it isn’t possible, but simply because they don’t see it. I have said many times that in being with Greg I haven’t seen my comfort zone in so long that I don’t even know where it is any longer. And I mean that sincerely. I don’t know what “normal” looks like anymore. A “normal” work week, a “normal” schedule, a “normal” life and pace. But I hope you don’t detect even a hint of wistfulness in my tone because there truly isn’t any. I honestly cannot imagine my life any other way.
So my point is that I have realized over time that for most people an enormously large part of pushing themselves for more; more life, more laughter, more experiences, more memories, is accountability. Having someone that genuinely and consistently expects more from you than perhaps you even expect from yourself in your life is valuable beyond measure. Someone to check in with, be challenged by and even answer to. Now you’re on the hook for your inaction, reluctance and fear. We can find a way to justify anything to ourselves but can we really find a way to justify it to somebody else? I can offer myself a million and five reasons for why I didn’t accomplish something this week, but do I have that honest, expectant feedback system that is just going to look at me with an eyebrow raised in disgust and say, “really?” Is that the best you can do? All you have to offer? The effort that you’d be proud to write home about? This needs to be someone that can encourage you but will never pander to excuses and inaction. Be it friends, a spouse, a business partner or a mentor most of us need not just a source of support and encouragement, but an occasional kick in the ass. Or at least the threat of one.
If you think about it, I’m not sure when most of us made the decision that we no longer needed that feedback system. When kids are in school they are encouraged but not without expectation of a level of performance and accomplishment. Entrepreneurs almost by definition have excused themselves from that feedback loop of accountability, but we all need it. And we need it in all things. We need to be accountable for our accomplishments, our efforts, our intentions and our behavior. So if you are struggling to push yourself, find someone that truly wants the best for you and give them permission to give you a shove either occasionally or consistently. But speaking from experience, once you take a walk on that wild side of possibility and courage, you will never again want to walk the road of least resistance. Life is best, and most vibrantly lived when we dare to do more than we ever imagined possible.