Like many of us, for a good amount of my time, I live in a very steady state. I do the things that I do in the same way, day after day, and life on the whole seems to be comfortable and easy going. In other words I live a good amount of time within my comfort zone.
A couple of weeks ago I came back from a holiday in Morocco. For this holiday we took recommendations from my sister and without giving it much thought we booked on it and before you knew it we were flying off. My sister’s style of holiday centers on activity whereas my choice would be more of sun worshipping, so we were in for a new experience!
The first part of the holiday was in the Atlas Mountains. These are a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about 2,500km (1,500 miles) through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
We decided to have a go at Trekking in the Atlas Mountains. I had never actually mountain trekked before, so it was something of a baptism of fire.
We hired a guide and set off up the mountain to the start of the trail. I felt like an instant pro with purpose bought walking shoes on: lookin’ good.
That lasted about 3 minutes as the heat of the Moroccan day and my impressive lack of leg muscle made the uphill ascent torturous– two hours of pure climbing approached at the speed of a slug. Thankfully the guide dragged me up for some of the way while I wheezed slowly behind him thinking how light headed I had started to feel! Stopping at intervals we looked down on how far we had climbed and being scared of heights and falling and generally unsafe situations the fear kicked in!
About three quarters of the way up the mountain I was thinking I should really use my gym membership. I caught a glimpse of the continuous climb ebbing into the distance and dug quickly in my bag: sweets and glugs of cool water were the only things that made the prospect of carrying on acceptable.
Finally, amazingly, we reached the top of the mountain. Wiping the droplets of sweat from our brows, we viewed the world below and I felt that I had achieved something today, what I hadn’t anticipated was the climb back down!!!
We started with a very bumpy hairpin decent to the river over large rocks and gravel. I thought I was worried on the way up, the comfort zone was truly being tested on the way down and I was more than a little nervous. At points after slipping and gripping the guide’s hands so tight my knuckles were white, god help his! I thought I wouldn’t make it to the bottom. Despite the fear, the dusty trail provided spectacular views of the Atlas Mountains.
As we reached the bottom I could see the shaded river bubbling through the valley and I breathed a sigh of relief. As this subsided I felt a rush of exhilaration as I realised I had truly done something I never thought I could of done. I was chuffed with what I had achieved and the adventure I had been on.
Within Curium we make a habit on reflecting on our experiences to understand what we have learned from them, for me this was about stretching outside my comfort zone and what this did for me. Even in this minor scenario, stretching and trying something new was a real eye opener…
I grew – and so did my comfort zone. When you stretch your comfort zone, you grow as a person. I have learned a new skill, gained more confidence and I know that I’m ready for the next situation like that in the future. Something I was once afraid of is now part of my skillset. My comfort zone has grown in the process.
I feel more confident. I mentioned this already, but once you get past your limits, you feel more confident and very good about yourself. This experience sent my heart beating like crazy and I was sweating – yet I knew I had to go on once I had reached a certain point. Afterwards I was relieved of course, but at the same time I proved to myself that I can do such a thing if you want to. This good feeling is great capital for the similar events in the future. When I trek again, I will focus on the good feeling – instead of worrying about whether I can do it this time.
I learned something new. The whole process of stretching your comfort zone is very educational. I’m now able to do mountain trekking/walking in more confident manner than before. I know that if I had turned back, I probably wouldn’t attempt it again. When you go outside your comfort zone, you also learn something about yourself – how you act in certain situations. Since I learned how I act in a particular situation, it helps me to prepare for the similar situations in the future.
I was doing something that most people are not doing. To be more successful in life or in business, you have to take the bull by the horns and do something different than others. In my personal life, mountain trekking was something that few of my friends had done.
I moved faster to my goals that day. You can take the step-by-step approach of doing something or you can take the “stretch your comfort zone” route. When you take the latter one, you will reach your goals faster. If I had taken a stepped approach to trekking I don’t believe I would have ever have gone that far because I don’t think I would have ever assessed myself as ready
I was exposed to new opportunities. I met a number of experienced trekkers and new people and they gave me ideas for future things I could get involved in. You are more likely going to get exposed to new opportunities, if you want to get outside your comfort area.
The temptation to resist the stretch is often strong, but if you are willing to go outside your zone, there is much bigger chance for something good and unexpected to happen. New opportunities start to show up and you will thank yourself for stretching your comfort zone. What will you do to stretch your comfort zone this month, this week, today?