Why You Should Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable

Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Why You Should Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable

Why should you make yourself uncomfortable? Isn’t that counter-intuitive?

My answer: If you never step out of your comfort zone, you become complacent. Complacency kills creativity and the desire to accomplish.

Learning to swim: an exercise in futility

A few years ago I decided to learn how to swim. So I bought a bathing suit (with a skirt for modesty), a swimming cap (did I mention that it was made of cloth?), and a pair of goggles (yes, it was mostly waterproof). For the next few months, I thrashed, heaved, panted, and gasped in the pool, never venturing beyond the red line marking the steep drop-off to the deep side.

A kindly gym member took pity on me and gave me some lessons. I remained stubbornly uncoordinated and dreaded my once-a-week foray into the pool. After a few months I gave up and went back to all the activities that I knew I could do. I even took up outdoor cycling and became quite good at it. It wasn’t a huge leap since I was already teaching cycle fit indoors.

Learning to swim: the gauntlet is thrown

Last year a seventy-three-year old gym buddy began boasting to me about how many laps he was able to swim after just a few months in the puddle. He kept taunting me to join him. If he could do it, then why couldn’t I? I’m younger than him and in pretty good shape.

So I bought a rubber cap, wore my old bathing suit and goggles, and then jumped into the water with dread. My previous mentor was nowhere to be found. I thrashed, heaved, panted, and gasped again.

Someone asked me at the pool, “How many times do you swim every week?”

“Once a week.”

He laughed. “That’s like me going to the golf course once a year and hoping I can improve my swing.”

Okay, I’ll try for twice a week. Alas, this was still not the turning point.

One day I bumped into my friend, a more-than-competent swimmer whose schedule never coincided with mine in the pool until that day. She took one look at me and said, “Lose that bathing suit. It’s like the lady who wore flip flops to your spinning class.”

So I skulked into a shop she recommended and picked up two new “swimming-appropriate” bathing suits. When the sales lady asked which league I belonged to, I gave her a vague response, but I proudly wore one of my new outfits when I knew my friend would be in the pool.

Success

Without going into the details of my near-drowning and panic attacks, I can report that in less than a year after my second start, I can now swim at least twenty laps (that’s a kilometer) in about thirty minutes. Maybe that’s not much for some of you. For me, this caps a year of taking on uncomfortable projects.

You see, last year I also got a publisher to publish my debut novel—a feat that I didn’t believe I could accomplish until I challenged myself to take that leap.

You just never know what you can accomplish or create when you step out of your comfort zone:

Seth Godin said in one of his blogs that you should make it a habit to get out of your comfort zone. I learned to swim when I dreaded going into the pool. Today I feel exhilarated every time I jump in. I banged on my computer coaxing out one word after another. Now I have a published novel, Picture Bride, to show for it.

Do you have a story about how stepping out of your comfort zone made you feel good in the end? Please share it in the comments.

Short “Shorts” – No Longer Here

This week we have a brand new writer. Her debut short story will touch you and evoke raw emotions that you can’t help, but feel. The writing prompt used was: She saw two people in the picture where there should have been three.

No Longer Here

by

Marina Albert

Beach_No Longer Here

“What’s happened to Mike?” Edel asked as her husband George hung up the phone.

”Mike’s missing. He went out on a boat with his friends and he may have drowned,” George said, his expression dark and gloomy.

The caller was a friend. Mike was George’s nephew, a smart, handsome and intelligent young man who just married a year ago. So Edel and George rushed to the cottage near the lake where Mike and his wife had spent the long weekend together with their friends.

A tragic scene greeted them. Many friends and relatives including Mike’s parents gathered at the cottage, praying for Mike to come back. Where was he? Surely a strong swimmer and a healthy young man like him wouldn’t drown?

Two long days of searching, and then the police found Mike. Drowned…lifeless.

Edel and George missed Mike. They missed his jokes and sense of humor at the family gatherings. A few weeks later, Edel visited Mike’s mother, Maria, who looked lonely and bereft at the loss of her only son at the age of thirty-three. She cried as she spoke about Mike.

Maria said that she knew something was wrong that Sunday morning when she stood at the bottom of the steps and her eyes rested on the family portrait hung above the clock. She saw two people in the picture where there should have been three. For a moment she was sure Mike was missing.

Then the phone rang…the call that told her Mike was gone. Was that God’s way of letting her know what was about to happen?

Maria remembered that on the day before the trip he came to borrow the cooler. His usually bright face was somber as he gave her advice about her diet. He had asked, “Where is Dad?” She told him that he was at the gym.

Mike went to the gym—somewhat unusual—just to see his dad, and then brought him home, after which he took off. That last glance and his goodbye still lingered in her mind. Did Mike have any inkling that it would be the final time he saw his parents?

The other day while driving to work Maria heard Mike’s voice. ‘MUMMY!” he called out. That was when she saw the car in front of her. She hit the brake just in time. She had dozed off briefly; the stress of losing Mike had taken a toll on her sleep.  If not for that voice she would have got into an accident.

When Edel walked out of her cousin’s house she felt sad, but she took comfort in her cousin’s stories. You see, although Mike was gone from this world, he still watched over them from heaven.

I Almost Drowned in a Bucket Full of White Wash

My mother tells me that I almost drowned in a bucket full of white wash when I was two years old. Only the quick actions of a night watchman prevented a disaster. Of course, I don’t remember any of that.

By the time I turned eight, I had become an expert at dunking in and out of water, muck, and raw sewage. At five or six, I fell into a pond while following an older girl around—nobody told me that bad things tend to happen when you hang out with bigger kids. Another fortunate adult-interference left me no worse for the dowsing.

The next plunge took me back first, into filthy muck. I don’t even want to reveal how I landed in that position. Suffice to say that my father, who dragged me out unceremoniously, probably wanted to give me a good thrashing after that incident.

One would think that I would learn not to fall into anymore messy situations. I did it again. For my seventh birthday, my father bought me a shiny new bike that all the neighbourhood children coveted. One evening, an older girl who was supposed to look after me, took my bike out for a spin with me sitting side saddle on the bar between the handle bar and the seat. When we landed in raw sewage, I never lived down the consequences of that disaster to this day.

Needless to say, when I look back to those childhood days, I find many episodes and events that inspire my stories, like my recently published non-fiction piece, Alfie. Another chapter of my life gave me the setting for A Midnight Feast to Remember. Check them out and be transported to a world of innocence in a way of life that has ceased to exist. If you enjoy listening to Alfie or reading A Midnight Feast to Remember, do send me a note.