There were many ideas for today’s Sunday Thought floating around my head this morning, each of them calling “Pick me! Pick me!”
But none of them grabbed me.
You see, I try to always write from the heart, rather than from a sense of obligation that I must write something.
Then serendipity struck – I spotted this tweet bearing this fab graphic (thanks Gill!):
Now it’s the sentiment that is important here, not the exact statistics. There is no citation to explain where the figures are from, nor who did the research. It doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is that we can all recognise the disparity between the number of people we know who live in the safe, cosy comfort zone and those who are getting the most out of their lives.
There are probably as many reasons for staying in the comfort zone as there are motivational quotes on social media (clue: lots). Those reasons might include something as understandable as staying in a job you don’t like because it suits your and your family’s current needs, and pays the bills; or simply because it’s just not possible to fly to Mars yet.
In seriousness, though, we need to be mindful of what are reasons for staying in the comfort zone – and tell them apart from excuses.
Excuses are hurdles you put in your own way. Hurdles that stop you following your dreams, embracing the unknown, exploring new things because you’re worried about what others might think, you’re scared of rejection or failure, or it’s just easier to not bother.
It’s a sweeping generalisation, but those on the outside of the circle tend to have in common a life-changing experience. Something that has stopped them in their tracks, made them realise tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Something that made them realise that rejection and failure are not the worst things in the world (and that not trying – regrets – are worse).
It doesn’t mean that the people on the outside of the circle are heartless, unfeeling narcissists. Quite the contrary: I would argue a life-changing experience makes us more feeling, empathetic, caring, and kind.
The difference is the life-changing experience has helped us put life in perspective, identify what is important.
The trouble with life-changing events is that they’re usually not fun. The experience may have involved you losing someone you love, or a very real threat to your own life. They are definitely not to be recommended: the emotional, psychological and physical effects endure months, years later (I still have panic attacks about my own time in hospital, and about Hugo’s death as well as a number of related things. It’s exhausting.)
So what I would like you to think about this Sunday is: are you sitting comfortably in your comfort zone? Would you like to do something about moving out of it? It doesn’t mean transforming your whole life – it’s not always feasible. But there’s usually at least one thing we can change about our lives to turn us from getting by, playing it safe, settling for less to living life without limits, going for your dreams, getting the most out of your life.
Go. Reflect. Make a list. Talk to your friends and family. Whatever works for you.
Just do it.
And don’t wait for a life-changing event to change you.