Do you continue to limit yourself to only job titles that you have been doing for many years and never think outside the box?
I was talking to my boyfriend, Alain, and he explained his own transformative moment years ago when he had quit a job that was way too far to drive on a daily basis. He realized that he had been only pursuing jobs in a specific Warehouse title for many years and never thought about looking outside that role. It was the quitting of that job that made him take time to look inside of himself and think outside his comfort zone to find a new career. He realized he was categorizing himself in a small square box of roles and had never thought of venturing outside that box. It is the same feeling that many people get when they reach a point that they are so unhappy in their job but keep on pushing through and counting the days to retirement. We categorize ourselves in a box where we believe we are comfortable since we have been doing the same job for so many years. Who would think we could succeed outside this title and job?
Well, I am betting that extremely successful and happy people will tell you that they never thought of confining themselves to a specific role or job title. They probably wake up each morning thinking about what new and exciting goal they can accomplish that day, that week, that year. And those goals are definitely outside their comfort zone because they have realized that the journey of doing something new that you are passionate about is where success lies. If you never wanted to create a new business because it scared you to fail so you stay at a boring or unfulfilling job only to avoid disappointment or financial issues, then you are not allowing your mind and spirit to go “where the magic happens”.
Of course, research has been done to analyze how far outside your comfort zone you can go and still avoid heavy anxiety issues that impedes success. You don’t want to go outside your comfort zone alone with no assistance because the feeling of terror could make you fall apart. However, you don’t want to get stuck in a slow moving zone where you read a book or watch a video and try and figure out by yourself how to do a new task or move to a new career. Science states that the ideal zone for growth is in between a slow moving zone and the zone of destructive anxiety. It is the area where you can learn some information on your own but also have the assistance of a teacher or coach to guide you along the way. This is what Russian developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky called the Zone of Proximal Development. Excerpt from an article by Danny Iny, “You grow faster in this zone, because your teacher or guide provides instruction, direction, and a perspective you can’t give to yourself. Self-study requires trial and error, which takes time and money, and brings unpredictable results. With a teacher, you avoid the common pitfalls. When you hit a speed bump, solutions are close at hand. Anxiety declines, because you feel supported as you go out into the unknown. All this creates the perfect storm for you to grow and grow fast. And so the best way to develop is by moving into your Zone of Proximal Development, neither too close nor too far from your comfort zone.”
When you start moving in a direction outside your own comfort zone the zone expands and your new normal is what used to be your “state of fear”. Even when you accomplish the goal that was originally set, you never want to stagnate and stay in that spot. Always look to expand your horizon and be outside the square box that you created for yourself because it is what allows you to find more success and happiness.
We are not all made to continually challenge ourselves so I cannot say that everyone should take this advice. I had a cousin who worked fixing watches in New York City, every day at the same window for 40 years. He meticulously fixed the tiny working pieces of expensive watches while looking outside his NYC window until he retired. His talent then went to making beautiful art out of watch parts. It was his life and he was a very happy, simple man who had a fantastic life with his wife, children and many grandchildren. If you are doing something that makes you happy, then please continue doing it.
It is the many people that would sit at the same window in NYC and be unhappy that need to understand how to make their life better by taking steps outside that zone. Don’t be fearful of taking that step and look to the assistance of others to help you along the way. I am dedicating my newly reinvented self to helping people take those steps, making the plan and following through to completion.
Oh, and the boyfriend whose story I started out with came to an “ah ha” moment when he pulled out some surfboards from under his Mom’s house one day, accidentally damaged one board and remembered he knows how to fix surfboards. He took action immediately to reopen his Surfboard Repair business and does that work to this day as a supplement to his acting career. The universe was telling him to make a change and he listened.
If you are unhappy and not excited to get out of bed every day, then look outside your comfort zone. But, get help and assistance as you venture into this uncharted territory, so you can succeed and grow in the perfect zone!