Uncharacteristically Uncomfortable

“I wanna thrive, not just survive” –  Switchfoot

This will be the first post of three focusing on stepping out of your comfort zone and achieving a fuller life.  Make sure you check all three over the next few weeks as they will build on each other.  This weeks will focus on your comfort zone as a whole, the next two weeks will be followed by “Using Failure to Launch” and “Adversity: No longer an Adversary”.  Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts of each of the posts.  Thanks!  – CP 

Let me start by confessing this:  My normal personality is not one to take many risks.    It’s not.  Really, deep inside when I’m taking a new risk in talking with someone or standing in front of a group of people, I am deathly afraid.   Little do you know, I actually used to be really shy!  (I know that’s hard for those who know me to believe)   Thankfully though, a change occurred and I no longer act that way.   What did I learn?   I learned that to grow, I had to become uncomfortable.

“But We’ve heard this all before!”  said the readers of the blog post.    Yes, I get that this is something most of everyone has heard so many times, but let me ask you, have you changed in a way you wanted?   Are you closer today to the person you want to be?


Ok, that’s a lot easier said than done.  I get it.  I really do, but let me tell you, its TOTALLY worth it.   So how have I stepped out of my comfort zone?

I danced the waltz and swing in front of 13,000 people.   I spoke and taught in front of my peers.   I gave a marketing consultation presentation in front of ownership of a company on how they could change their business to grow more.  I write my thoughts and motivational action steps every week in a blog for people to read.   Those are all out of my comfort zone.   I could have totally failed in any of those, and it would have been alright.  Each of them brought me significantly more joy, energy and overall fulfillment to my life because I actually went for it.  

In our daily routines, we love to stay in our comfort zones, but actually our best work is done with the addition of stress.  Studies have shown that there is an optimal level of stress.   Too little and we only operate at 80%, too much and we struggle to make decisions.   It’s different for every person, but we have to stretch ourselves to find it.   The weight lifter constantly adds weight to the lift so he or she can become stronger.   If they simply kept lifting the same weight the same way, they would never reach their best strength.  

Here’s some steps to take to start walking out of your comfort zone:

Do something you’ve never done that you know a friend does:   This is a great place to start getting out of your comfort zone.  Do something you’ve never done, but do it with someone who actually does it.  For example, let’s say you’ve always wanted to go snowboarding. You don’t know how or what to do.  Go with someone you know that can teach you.  It’s a new experience for you outside your comfort zone, but not some place you’ll be overwhelmed.   

Travel some place new: Now this one seems pretty self explanatory, and really it is, but don’t miss it.  You don’t have to go far off, but go somewhere you’ve never been. Start small if you want, go to a new restaurant you’ve never been.  Order something from the menu you’ve never tried.  Search out your own city for something new.  There’s plenty in every neighborhood that you haven’t actually tried.  Start there, then move on to traveling to a different city, a different state, a different country.   Go alone, go with friends, go with family.  It doesn’t matter.  Go.  Action oriented.  Remember, you’re getting out of your comfort zone.

Take a Chance: As the image above says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  That’s so very true for all of us.  If you don’t try, you’ll never make it.  I used to say to a friend about asking a girl out, “You don’t get to kiss the prom queen at the end, if you don’t ask her to dance first.”  Simple, yes.  Childish, possibly, but you get the point.   Take a chance at winning.  See, far too often we are so afraid of losing we stay in the comfort zone where we feel safe.  Success isn’t given to the safe, it is given to those who step out and take it.  So take a risk, take a chance.  If you’ve never done it, how do you know what will happen.

When we really want to achieve something new, we must take new strides to get there.  That means stepping out of that comfort zone we love to greatly and slowly changing ourselves into a new person.   It may be painful sometimes, but the result always outweighs the battle.  I know that I personally battle myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.  I mean, I went to a painting class this past weekend.  Let me just say it, I don’t paint. But I did it. I enjoyed it.  I would have never tried one before, but I did it.  Take the steps to get where you want to be.  It’ll totally be worth it.



image via http://www.quotezine.com/motivational-quotes/

Powerfully Positive

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”  – Winston Churchill

We all know that one person, that person who seems to just be optimistic in all situations.   They find the good in the bad, the happy in the sad, the sunshine in the rain, and I could go on and on with examples.   When we look at this person what do we see?   Normally, we see someone with determination, focus, and drive.   We notice they are persistent, humble, and grateful.  All together, they exude positive thoughts in (almost) all they do.

Now, I know what everyone is thinking, “But Chris, this can’t be just a ‘Be Happy’ post?”, and you are correct.   I’m not here to say  just be happy, for I know that there will be plenty of tough times.  Tough times will come, but our reaction to these times will be the determination to how it actually effects us.  This is where Positive Thinking comes into play.

Does it really work? Simple answer?  Yes.  A recent study by a Harvard psychologist found that those who had a positive attitude towards their actions, due to being told that what they were doing fulfilled the guidelines and needs for weight loss, showed significantly better results than those who were not given any information to the impact of the same actions.   What does this say?   Basically, it says that when we have a positive outlook on the work we are about to accomplish, we perform at a higher level and gain greater rewards.  Reinforcing our daily routine with a positive outlook will drive greater results and less stress.

So what does this look like practically? Well, I’m glad you asked…

  1. Be Grateful-   The first step in any positive thinking is to be grateful for where you are today.  It may be difficult in tough situations, but if you really take the time to see how much good you have, you’ll rarely be able to hold the thundercloud of negativity above your head.  We all must realize just the gifts we have been given and be thankful for them.  When we take for granted our lives,  we only strive for what we don’t have, instead of cherishing what we do have.   This is a recipe for negative thoughts and jealousy, and I’m pretty sure we all know that nothing good comes from jealousy.  Take time to reflect on the good things in your life, and then be thankful for them. You’ll be amazed how it will impact your day.   
  2. Zoom in on the details-  Doesn’t time seem to be flying by?   Well, that’s because it is!  Far too often, we find ourselves on autopilot, simply going through our days without paying attention.  Life seems to go by quickly, and our reactions are based off of bland thoughts and attitudes.  When we actually pay attention to the details around us, time seems to “slow down” and allow us to understand the situation.  While this may seem crazy, in some ways its actually true.  Our minds become super focused on the things around us and the brain begins to process all the small details, which ultimately slows down our minds.    Try this sometime, look all around you, check out the different colors, the sounds, the smells.   You’ll be amazed how it changes your thoughts of the situation.   Once you’ve slowed down time, then you can react to the situation accordingly.   Stop sometimes to smell the flowers!
  3. Look for the Good-  I have a friend that always said “Blue Sky Thinking”.  Now, I don’t know if she thought of it herself or from someone else, but I normally counted  it as a pretty lackluster phrase.   She would write it on everything and say it often to others.  While I didn’t use it myself, I now see the impact of what thinking of the positive can really do for you.   When we look at the good in every situation we are in, we are able to find motivation to keep moving forward.  Finding the good may simply be realizing that you are one step closer to the end of this struggle, or it can be to see how someone else can benefit.  Finding the good in a difficult situation oftentimes is the difference between success and failure.   Search for a positive aspect of every situation.
  4. Trust the Process-  At the end of the day, we are all on a journey towards becoming better versions of ourselves.  Have faith in yourself, in others, in God.   We must trust that we are moving towards our goals.  If we have vision, have set our goals, and directed our lives towards those goals, then we must trust the process to get there.  When you are no longer worried whether or not something will happen, you bring action into your life.  As with a previous post, the trail will get you to the top of the mountain.

I’m positive (See what I did there) that positive thoughts can unlock power in many of our lives.   Remember, be grateful how far you’ve come already, zoom in on the details of life, look for the good in every situation, and lastly trust the process you’re on.  Every day is a new day to conquer and achieve.  Use every bit of it you can.

Blue Sky Thinking!  (That’s for you Adrienne!) 


Keeping things in Focus

Let me start by painting a picture for us all…

You’ve driven up to the mountains; you can see the trail ahead of you, the sign just revealing the start.  You know its going to be 4 miles to the top, and you look up at the mountain you’re about to hike.  You can see the forest covering it and what you think is the peak, but you’re unable to see the actual way up there.  You know the trail in front of you will lead you there, so you simply look back down at the trail and begin walking. 

Isn’t this what we do when we go hike?  So what’s this got to do about Focus? A lot actually!   Just follow with me and hopefully I can explain it well enough.  

When we look at our goals, often we look at the end goal to our struggles.  We see the high school skinny picture we once were, we see the coworker with the new promotion driving the new BMW, or Facebook pictures of a friend’s engagement.   Whatever the goal may be, we get a picture of what our end result will be.   And that’s GREAT!  We need that end goal, we need to see the mountain we are about to climb.   But wait… What happens to us when we focus too much on that mountain?   The trip seems long, the climb too high, the goal too far away.  I know that a personal goal of mine is to weigh less than 250 lbs, a loss of 75 lbs from my heaviest.   Yes, that goal is daunting, really, it feels heavy, but I cannot be focused simply on the end goal.  While I make sure my decisions align with the end goal, I don’t focus on it.  If I did, the weight would crush me, the distance would be far too much. So, I change my thought process, and just like hiking, I focus on the trail before me.

So what do I mean by “focusing on the trail before me”?   It means to focus on the steps you have to take today.  The 5 feet in front of you that you can see the steps.  When you look at the mountaintop you can’t see the trail and the details, but when you focus on the trail in front of you, you can step over the rocks, maintain solid footing, and traverse the needed ground.  Sure, the view isn’t as great as it is at the peak, but it takes time to get there.  If you keep trying to focus on the mountaintop, you’ll stumble at the places you are today.   The steps needed to reach the end goal will be slowed, or even halted, by the lack of attention to today.

So how can we practically apply this to ourselves?

First, write down whatever mountain (goal) you’re trying to climb.  This is the big picture.  The end goal of your struggle.  You need to be able to see it, to envision it, but it shouldn’t be the focus of your eyes.

Second, look at where you are today.  Assess what you need to do to achieve your goal in the place where you stand today.    When I look at my goal, I know that I cannot lose 75 lbs in a day, so I look to what I could today to effect my overall goal.  I ask myself, “What should I do today that will bring me closer to my end goal?”  

Thirdget MOVING!  Start making steps, make decisions, make preparations, make a movement towards this goal.  You can’t climb the mountain if you’re still sitting in your car.  Start making strides, you’ll be amazed how quickly the distance becomes shorter.

Fourth, constantly remind yourself where you’re going.  Sometimes we can get so overcome by the path we are on, that we forget to see where we are headed.  Just like hiking, life has many trails, and sometimes these trails can take us in the wrong direction.  Reflect, reassess, and refocus on the goal that you set and the actions you need to be taking. The worst is to push so hard to reach a goal, never noticing that you’re actually going in the wrong direction.

Fifth, celebrate! When you finally reach the mountaintop make sure you see just how far you’ve come!  You made it to the goal, you climbed the mountain!  You’ve achieved something that few will, you’ve made it to the top.  In your journey, you will see many that have turned around, or ventured off the trail.  They didn’t focus on the steps in front of them, they focused only on the goal.  They lost motivation or direction, or both.

As you climb your mountain, remember, sometimes the terrain changes, the trail looks different.  Some things will change.  Some trails may be a better choice for you, while some may not.  You’ll get tired, you’ll get discouraged, you’ll think about stopping.  Simply stated… DON’T STOP!   Remember your end goal, but walk the trail before you.  That trail leads you to the top, even if you can’t see it all the time.