Tag Archive | comfort zone

What can a shirt do?

You may have never thought much about the shirts hanging in your closet or those neatly folded in your dresser drawers. Likely you knew that shirts have personalities and can influence your behavior through their style and color, yet were you aware how controlling some of them are?

spaghetti_babySome shirts like to eat … a lot. Have you ever noticed how neatly you can consume most foods, but when you have a plate of spaghetti, some of it always ends up on the shirt? That’s because shirts, especially white ones, love, love, love pasta covered in tomato sauce. It’s their favorite meal, and they can’t seem to get enough. And you thought you were just messy.

Some shirts will take you places you don’t want to go. I recall the days when schools had detailed dress codes and they were explicitly enforced. For example, if you wore a T-shirt deemed inappropriate, that shirt took you on a trip to the principal’s office, just for a little chat – guess he didn’t have Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes you even got to spend some extended quality time with another teacher after school – all because of a shirt.

But who knew a shirt could lead you out of your comfort zone, around the learning curve to mastery of something new? Sounds like a good thing, right? Actually in the long run it is, but that short run is a killer.

I have a beautiful embroidery machine, a Brother Quattro 6000, but have been so busy with other projects, family events and life in general that I have not had the time to learn what commands would make it perform its magic. Once you master the commands and know which button does what, it’s all good, but until you get there, it can be intimidating.

Recently I was tasked with embroidering the name of a certain organization on 17 shirts. Of course the shirts were not of the inexpensive variety, so you couldn’t make a mistake – or if you did, you had to know how to fix it. After stewing about it for quite a while, the deadline for delivery loomed so close I could feel its hot breath down the back of my neck. I had to do it. Those shirts were causing sleepless nights and butterflies in my stomach. Would I ever survive? I prayed about it a lot, visited the store where I purchased the machine for moral support and further instructions, and then prayed again. (The shirts didn’t know that God cares and can sew.) One by one, I measured, marked and machine stitched each shirt until finally they were finished. Hooray!

Those shirts thought they were going to get the best of me, but instead they helped me to master the machine. Now I can’t wait to start another project.

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What’s so great about the Comfort Zone?

Have you ever spoken with a person who was miserable in his job? He hated to get up in the morning and face the onslaught of meetings, messages and minutia. He lived for the weekend reprieve, yet if you tried to pin him down on what he’d rather do, he had no answer. He’d bought into the old adage that the bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. Although the proverb warns against greed, it can also imply being satisfied with the status quo. In other words, it’s easier to exist in what you know and are comfortable with rather than try to improve yourself and grow to experience more. You know where he lived? Right in the eye of the Comfort Zone.

I’m not going to pick on that individual because if truth be told, we’ve all lived there at one time or another, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. What’s so great about enduring and tolerating unpleasant situations, behaviors and habits when they do nothing for us? Do they help us develop new skills, meet new people, see new places? Will we experience greater focus, commitment or self-discipline and better health? Are we truly better off? We need to ask ourselves these and some other important questions especially when we find ourselves in difficult or stressful situations. Our friend may not be able to quit his day job just yet, but he can begin to make changes to reinvent himself so that he can fulfill his dreams, goals and purpose.

Like him, I have areas of my life that I want to see changed. While one of TV’s total makeovers would be nice, it is not reality because lasting change requires commitment, action and time. I believe it also requires God’s power, and I am enlisting His wisdom and strength to do it because, frankly, I see nothing great in the Comfort Zone.

Moving out

Do you hate to move? I’m actually talking about changing your residence rather than a physical feat, but if you have ever transferred from one location to another, you know there’s plenty of exercise going on during the process.

According to Melissa Data and the US Census bureau, “out of a population of 282,556,000 people, 40,093,000 moved. That’s an overall percentage of 14.19 percent annually.” Were you one of them?

As an adult, I have had to move several times. Yes, adventure of a new beginning on the other side beckoned me, but the pre-requisite involved going through the mountains of things collected and stored in boxes in the basement and attic, stuffed into closets and cupboards or mounded on the shelves. Then I had to go through it all and discard, give away, sell or repack what was left, pack it into a truck, haul it to the new location and find a place to put it all. Here’s the strange part. When I went to move the next time, I found some of these same boxes still packed from the previous move. I guess the items in these containers weren’t useful after all, though they brought a measure of comfort. It may sound comical, yet isn’t this sometimes how we live our lives?

We get excited about a new job, new neighborhood, new relationship or some other new enterprise, and we prepare for the change. Our confidence is high. We lay aside the old routines and familiar traditions, a few unproductive habits and negative thought patterns. We’re making a fresh start.  We pack up the outstanding skills and characteristics that provided the opportunity and get ready to go. We make the move and transition into the new situation, but it appears something is holding us back. Alas, we discover those boxed up fears and past failures we had before. We did not get rid of them. We just packed them up and brought them along.

When we embark on a new situation or opportunity, we need to make sure that we don’t tote along any excess baggage. It adds no value, but it can certainly produce unnecessary weight that could hold us back.

Look around. Do you have any beat up old containers filled with bad memories, resentment or fears? Getting rid of them will be your biggest boost to making the move out of your Comfort Zone to the next successful phase of your life.

A thunderous gift

I awoke this morning to flashes of light and booming claps of thunder. The rain poured down, and my spirits followed with each drop. Later the storm cleared, the sun came out and my spirits rose with the warmth of the day. So what was the difference? My health, my relationships, my finances remained the same, yet the sense of well-being seemed to follow the light.

Perhaps the real issue had to do with my perspective. Subconsciously, I saw the gloomy morning as a hindrance, a force out of my control, preventing me from something – like going outside of my comfort zone. After all, if I went outdoors, I’d be required to carry an umbrella or wear a raincoat. I would not need these items if it were sunny. In other words, I was looking at what I could not do instead of what I could or what benefit this rain would bring.

As a matter of fact, the strawberries I had transplanted had begun to shrivel up for lack of water. The pollen count continued to creep higher because there had been no rain to knock it out of the air. Oh, and there were other things I could do as well. I did have to venture out in the rain, but my car – currently parked inside a garage – would keep me safe and dry, as well as get me to my destination. The more I think about it, this storm was God’s gift.

Sometimes it takes me a while to make lemonade from life’s lemons. I’m glad the Lord is patient to wait for me to see the light.

6 Steps from Memory Lane

Do you remember singing the song Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush? It’s definitely for the pre-school set, but the interesting thing is what it teaches us as adults.    

The original lyrics included a daily to-do list with each day dedicated to a certain task or priority.  For example, they dedicated Monday to washing clothes; Tuesday, ironing the clothes; Wednesday, scrubbing the floor and so on culminating with Sunday, going to church. Back then multitasking was out of the question. It actually took all day to scrub the clothes, hang them outdoors to dry, take them down, and prepare them for the next step in the process – ironing, also an all-day event. 

Aside from the benefit gained as children burn off lots of energy singing the song, think about what you can learn (or relearn) from the lyrics. Although the days of one task per day are long gone, a key message is prioritize. If you’re one who is easily overwhelmed by things that need to be done or procrastinates on projects taking you out of your comfort zone, try these tips to help you focus. 

  1. Make a list of what should and can be done in your day. Be realistic.
  2. Assign time frames for each item on your list. (This is often a good way to reduce its size.)
  3. Dedicate a certain amount of time to one task or phase of a project and work on that.
  4. Use a timer. Besides providing a measure of accountability, you can see there’s light at the end of the tunnel as well as how much you can accomplish in your time allotment.
  5. Ignore rabbit trails or interruptions seeking to divert your attention. Unless it’s a matter of life or death, it can usually wait.
  6. Stick to it until the time is up or you’re finished. 

The self confidence you’ll gain from your achievement will be well worth the time it takes to prioritize your day and focus on what’s most important. 

If you still have little children around, see what other benefits you can gain from their songs. By the way, today’s version of the Mulberry Bush ditty addresses hygiene issues so feel free to continue to sing it with your kids.

Can you get out of your comfort zone using Google maps?

When you start your own business or a new job, it is important to get yourself or your name out in public in order to obtain new clients or business. Networking is a wonderful means to accomplish this. For some, the process is easier than for others.  In my case, I chose to begin with a local Chamber of Commerce business card exchange. I thought this would be an excellent way to bolster my courage and start my journey to success. I even coerced a friend to attend as well. 

Dressed professionally and armed with business cards and prepared elevator speeches, we grabbed our Google directions and were on our way. Admittedly we experienced some nervousness as we set out on this great adventure outside the “Comfort Zone.”     

We were unconcerned about the directions as we had cut and pasted the address from the online invitation into Google maps. We followed our prescribed path and recognized the names of streets just as the instructions indicated. However, the bank hosting the event did not appear. I called my husband, who patiently re-Googled (is there such a term?) the address and came up with the same plan.  We retraced our route, but did not see the bank. In fact, we did not see any banks. 

After getting turned around on some back roads and trying to second guess what Google may have done, we ended up in the next town that happened to begin with the same letter. Still the correct bank did not emerge. Finally, we resigned ourselves to head for home. We traveled several more miles before stopping at a traffic light. Lo and behold, we looked up and before our eyes was “the” bank. Can you believe the name of the street matched not only the invitation, but also the street we had been traveling on for the past hour? 

After traveling about 50 miles (It should have been 6.1 and taken 15 minutes), we finally reached our destination. We hurried in to exchange cards with the few people remaining. Funny thing. The nervousness had disappeared as we had replaced that emotion with relief and thankfulness for finding our location. 

So to answer my title question, can you find your way out of your comfort zone using Google maps? The answer is yes, but the route you travel may deviate from the map.

Does anyone like change?

I think the only people who really enjoy change are those impacted purely by the results of it.  

For example, think about all of the effort that goes into preparing for a new addition to the family. Before Junior even arrives, you’ve made a huge financial investment. Excluding any medical considerations, a new baby requires a massive amount of equipment, bedding and clothes.  We’re not even talking diapers yet. In addition, adjustments need to be made for meals, sleeping (or the lack thereof) and yes, now we’re talking diapers.  At this point however, the new arrival could care less. He arrives on the scene and waits for his needs to be met.  He’s not the least concerned about the changes made on his behalf.  He’s only interested in the results. 

If we’re honest, we understand that change is not only good, but also necessary. If Junior remained in diapers until age 21, well you get my drift. The problem with change is that it makes demands on your life and moves you out of your comfort zone. For instance: 

  • The weight I want to lose will not come off without serious attention to diet and exercise.
  • The skills I need to move forward won’t come without time applied to reading, practice and some self-reinvention.
  • The entrepreneurial ideas I’d like to see succeed will not materialize without some risk and a lot of hard work.  

I may not always enjoy the process of change, yet perseverance will, more often than not, obtain the results I desire. Does this also mean the sooner I start, the closer I am to enjoying the final product and hence, learning to like change?