Over the autumn months, I have been busy speaking at various events- some have been in the UK, others as far away as Portugal and then a handful have been without even leaving my house, delivered virtually.
I am sharing this with you because the best things often happen when we persuade ourselves to leave the comfort zone, and the more we do it, the easier it becomes, like anything.
Should I have declined that first invitation to speak in a school following the London Marathon, not only would I not have fundraised a substantial amount on the cycle challenge I took on in 2013, but I wouldn’t have the career I have now. It is one I absolutely love, and it shows how taking opportunities can lead you on to a new path. Sometimes we don’t have to know the destination, but we can just keep going and exploring to find out where it takes us.
I am so glad I listened to my inner voice, which told me to give it a go and kicked my nerves aside. At that point I never had the intention of it becoming my career. In fact, by the time I received my first corporate booking, I had the experience of dozens of presentations which I did as a fundraiser to help cure paralysis. It was through recommendations by people who had heard me speak in a school that I began to realise that it was something I could continue and it later became my new business.
Remember, you get what you work for not what you wish for.
When I think back to what I was like before being paralysed, and compare it to now, I have so much more self belief than I ever had before. Something that felt so tragic and almost life ending, has actually made me braver and stronger, and has resulted in a career that I actually prefer, and once would never have had the courage to do.
I think the reason for this is, in order to rebuild my life and discover a passion for new things, I had to ‘step’ or perhaps I would be better to say ‘push’ out of that comfort zone.
I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t had my accident? That I will never know, but I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have grown as a person like I have. I may have opted to develop my business as a Chiropractor and quite possibly I would have continued to compete my horses, after all that is what I had worked hard to do for years, and we all know making such significant changes would be hard.
During the days where I was grieving for all I had lost and then moved on to accepting my new situation, came the realisation that I needed to create a new life. This wasn’t going to happen without making myself feel incredibly nervous and encouraging myself to do stuff I wasn’t sure I could but I knew I couldn’t let being nervous stop me, if I wanted to build a fulfilling life.
You are probably thinking I am talking about flying a microlight or learning to ride a powerful motorbike, which I certainly needed my brave pants on for, however, those early decisions were as scary (if not more). For example, meeting Dan (now husband) just a year after my accident and taking my first job 18 months after my accident because I was still in the process of adapting to life using a wheelchair and coming to terms with having a body that didn’t work as it should (especially the bowel and bladder issues!) I could have refused to both of the above but that would not move me forward.
It was by grabbing these opportunities, I developed the strength to do more and more as years have gone on. The comfort zone then gets bigger so when you push yourself out of it, your achievements become greater and your self confidence grows.
If I stayed in my safe zone, I wouldn’t have met Dan, I wouldn’t have my daughters, I wouldn’t have told the world I was walking the London Marathon in a bionic suit (in case I failed), I wouldn’t have said ‘yes’ to that first solo flight, I would have refused to be lifted onto a motorbike, I wouldn’t have fundraised £850k and I wouldn’t have the career I have… ….I would not have the life I have now.
What is the comfort zone?
It is where we feel safe and it fulfils our need for certainty. It is place where we have more control. Leaving it can make us feel anxious because we are no longer in a familiar situation BUT learning to leave it is where we can grow and develop. We all need some time in the comfort zone but finding the ability to move out into the unknown is essential if you want to grow, have new experiences and more success/achievements .
Pushing your boundaries can make you more productive, more adaptive and more creative. As you do this your brain learns to adapt to new situations and create neural pathways that makes you a better problem solver, decision maker and leader, you can become unstoppable.
I may have very few neural pathways firing in my spinal cord but have made more in my brain due to my spinal injury! I have learned so many new things over the past years, and that is why I have grown as a person.
Benefits of leaving the comfort zone:
- Opportunity to grow- you won’t reach new heights if you stick to all your usual habits and routine lifestyle.
- Learn more about yourself- every time you achieve something you were nervous about you will gain confidence and self esteem.
- Expanding yourself- trying new things could lead to a new hobby, career or interest and that can lead to meeting new people
- Learn to deal with challenges- when life throws a curveball you are more likely to cope if you are a person who leaves the comfort zone.
- Life is more fun and lively- you will often find you have more energy as a result of pushing the boundaries rather than every day being the same.
Of course, all our comfort zones are different so our goals will be totally different too.
Why not choose something you have wanted to do but perhaps feel a little nervous and GO FOR IT!?
For me, that will be getting back in the ski and flying the microlight as it is now ready for me (after needing new wing sail) so I will be doing my first solo cross country flights before too long…eeeekkk!