First of all, let me start off by saying that I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoyed your family, laughed so much that your sides “felt” it, and shoved lots of wonderful food into your pie hole. I hope you gave generously and that it welt so good, you smiled inside as well as outside.
It occurs to me that one of the reasons Christmas is so magical is the fact that it does, indeed, feel wonderful to make other people happy. The sight of someone’s face when they open a present or when they eat something you’ve made just for them is utterly priceless. If we were half as clever as we think we are, we’d keep the magic going all year. Sounds like, smells like, and looks like a top tier resolution to me.
Second of all, I’m sorry for the fact that the holidays took the Daily out of Self Help Daily. But I know you understand that a wife, mother, and human to 4 cats has a lot of hats to wear – and some hats simply come first. With less school and work, my family has been home more than usual and if I’m not cooking for them, watching movies with them, or laughing at their antics – I’m just sitting and enjoying their company.
Something my husband and I were watching last night leads me to the thoughts behind this post, in fact. I LOVE music – so much so that I don’t even have a favorite genre. I listen to all genres, all artists. If the music and locals are good and if they make me “feel” something with my heart and tap something with my feet… sign me up! We were watching one of my favorite female singers EVER perform on television. (Notice the way I’m leaving her name out? I loves her, so I’m not going to sling mud on her prettiness.) She was singing a song that, frankly, she had no business singing. The song wasn’t bad, the singer dang sure wasn’t bad – but together? Well, uncomfortable. It was simply WAY out of her comfort zone. When the song presented itself to her, she should have looked the other way and pretended they’d never met.
I had (as usual) enjoyed too much coffee yesterday, so while I laid in bed waiting for the sandman (he gets lost in traffic often with me), I thought about my songstress. When she’s doing her thing, performing within her comfort zone – for lack of a better phrase – she can’t be touched. Others come close, but touch? No, no, no.
I have, like most people who fancy themselves Self Help writers, often written about the virtues of “stepping outside of your comfort zone.” I still believe that testing your wings, from time to time, is good for you. Anything that makes you reach further than normal is a good thing. Make that a great thing. HOWEVER, when the reach is so far that you leave your own neighborhood, that can be uncomfortable at best and downright ugly at worst.
Truth be told, the phrase “Comfort Zone” has a bad rap. Think about it. When Kanye West throws on his killer shades and sings “Love Lockdown,” he’s in his comfort zone. When George Strait grabs his cowboy hat and sings about cowgirls, he’s in his comfort zone. Their comfort zones have, deservedly, made them millions. What would happen if they switched? I’m a HUGE fan of each, but I’m not certain I’d want to watch. George with a “Love Lockdown” and Kanye asking, “How About Them Cowgirls?” – What?!
Each artist steps, reasonably, out of their comfort zones with new songs and performances – but they’re intelligent enough to know what they do and what they do as well as anyone. Stepping too far beyond that would be foolish. Why leave a neighborhood that’s money in the bank?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for challenging yourself. Getting too comfortable can be like taking a life tranquilizer. But taking too many steps away from your comfort zone can be your undoing. It’s all about balance, common sense, and knowing who you are and what you can do. We’re living in a time when we seem to think we have to be able to do everything. No can do.
My dad used to tell a story about a paper route he had as a boy. Did all dads once deliver papers??? There was a particularly ill-tempered german shepherd who was tied to a tree along the route. My dad knew how far the rope would reach, so he learned (after a hole in his jeans) how close he could get to the dog’s home. The dog seemed to know how far he could reach as well because after my dad began walking outside of his reach, the dog lost interest in him.
We all have a similar reach, whether we want to admit it or not.
When we first began a web publishing business, I tried to do it all. I’d design the site, make the graphics, write the content, do the coding, contact affiliates, network, etc. It got to the point that I felt so overwhelmed and stressed that I wanted to throw in the towel – or, better yet, throw it at someone. One day my husband told me that I should concentrate mainly on writing. He told me that he felt that I did everything well, but that he especially liked my writing and thought I should give it the majority of my attention. He’d never let me down before, so I took his advice. To make an already long article a little less long, suffice to say – it made all the difference.
There’s just as much to be said for stepping into your comfort zone as there is to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone.
If you have a particular “comfort zone,” don’t apologize for it – dominate it.