I have a coaching program named “Kick-starting Your Personal Revolution” and one way I work with my clients is to get them more comfortable in their gray areas. Anyone who is ready to take the next step in their career or who is ready to set off on a new life journey knows there’s going to be some discomfort and ambiguity at first.
Discomfort represents change so it’s natural to be uncomfortable with that uncertainty. When we live in a “black and white” world, that infers there’s just one rule that applies to all situations. No exceptions.
Life is more complex than that and making it black and white injects a certain rigidity that suppresses our ability to achieve greatness. When you live by these “rules”, your life becomes routine. With that, there’s little thought to making a determined effort to move out of your self-imposed boundaries, otherwise known as your zone of comfort.
But, life is not black and white and any attempt to make it fit into that scheme is too restrictive. It also holds you back. The day you become too comfortable with your routine is the day you stop growing. So, if you like what you are doing and don’t mind staying in the same spot for the next few years, this article is probably not for you. However, if that thought scares you, then keep reading.
Understand that there are infinite shades of gray. The gray area can often be confused for being abstruse or abstract but it’s the area in which you come alive. It’s thought-provoking, creative, and energizing.
You’ll have to learn to redefine your perceptions of right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable. That’s what make the gray area rejuvenating. It feels like pushing your reset button each day.
Any new foray gives you a new kind of experience and the more diverse your experiences, the more wisdom you’ll carry forward as you break those self-imposed boundaries. When you get comfortable with the idea of the unknown or with ambiguity, it gives you the courage to take larger risks when you need to take them. You don’t have to take a massive step today. You can build courage each day by starting with something small. It doesn’t have to be a difficult journey.
4 Baby Steps You Can Take Today
One of the most so-so movies of our time also teaches us one of the most prolific life lessons. In "What About Bob," Dr. Marvin teaches Bob that all he has to do is to take one little step at a time and he can do anything!” The key is taking that first baby step.
Acknowledge what scares you: You can’t venture into your gray area unless you know the true root cause of your fears. What specifically scares you? Are they grounded in reality or are they unfounded? Know your vulnerabilities and know where you feel insecure so that you can build courage. Being able to move past that fear requires knowing how to tackle the real cause of your fears, otherwise you might cave in to an easier choice. Or, you’ll quit before you start.
Change your habits: Take a second to note everything that you’ve done so far today. Did you eat the same thing? Take the same route to work? Get your normal skim latte at Starbucks? There’s not much thinking involved when we go about life following our normal routines. We like it because it’s comfortable. But that’s the issue, we never try anything new. If you’re a steak and potatoes kind of person, why not grab sushi the next time you eat out? Or change it up and get a chai tea latte instead of your normal latte. These are simple and easy actions to take but it gets you in the habit of getting out of your habits.
Put yourself in a new environment: Minor changes do not present any real threat but think of small changes as having a cumulative effect on building your courage to tolerate risk. Go see a musical or go visit a restaurant in another part of town. The idea is to initially place yourself in an unfamiliar environment but one in which you still control until you learn to trust yourself. Slight changes will eventually lead to larger changes.
Talk to someone you don’t know: It’s a way to meet people who exist outside your current social bubble. Why? Because social interaction is positive for your mood – even if you don’t like it. It expands your network, exposes you to innovative ideas, and boosts your self-confidence. It teaches us new perspectives which will ultimately improve our ability to relate to others. And if you’ve ever wanted to pitch a product or a new business idea, this is crucial.
Over to you: I want to hear from you. Inspire us all. Tell us one new thing that you will do this week?
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Johnston Osburn is a Career and Life Coach who helps people turn dreams into realities. After years as a Global Talent Acquisition Professional, she realized how frequently people limit themselves because they lack belief in their abilities. They are afraid to dream, let alone dream big. [...]