Ah, the holidays! This is the time where our familiar friends come to the forefront. . . the familiar foods, songs, traditions, and rituals we embrace each year to celebrate the end of the year as we prepare for the new.
One of my favorite traditions is to draw up a New Years card just for us. (I’ve done it for the last six years in my business!) Here are the cards I’ve drawn up through the 2015 New Year:
I love drawing these images up, since they seem to set the tone for the year to come. . . not just for me but for you as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to an office to find my card up on display. . . in August. Things like that just fill my soul and make me happy!
So, as I sit here thinking about what to draw and what I wish for you – for ALL of us – this New Year, all I keep thinking is:
I want you to become uncomfortable.
Say what?!? No, I’m not being mean. Let me explain.
(Author’s Note: This post contains a few F-bombs. Fairly warned be thee, says I!)
It’s easy to stay just the size we are within our comfort zones. Working the same job, running the same business, doing the same projects, seeing the same friends, having the same dinner every Tuesday night.
There’s a certain deliciousness to staying comfortable. Kicking off the shoes, taking off the pants, putting on the slippers and the jammie-jams, curling up on the couch, and being comfortable in our lives and our routines.
It’s amazing how fast time can fly by when we’re comfortable. I can plow through umpteen episodes of South Park on the DVR when I’m in this state!
But the same thing goes for the rest of our lives. Time flies by as we do the same thing over and over again, working, living, loving comfortably.
But there’s no magic happening in our comfort zones.
Our comfort keeps us smaller than we could be. The spaces where we are safe and comfortable provide no room for magic or growth to enter our lives.
An old colleague of mine, Chris Pesenti, used to make changes in his life all the time and it would freak me the fuck out. He’d move to a new town, start a new business partnership, strike off on his own and create something new. And he did this on the regular.
When I’d ask him about why he liked to create so much change in his life, he’d always reply:
“I need to make the change before the change makes me.”
Back then, I thought he was 1) bold, 2) brave, and 3) bat-shit crazy. But then again, back then I also loved (LOVED!) staying in my comfort zone. I loved knowing what the heck I was doing and what to expect. I knew who I was, what I was about, what I stood for, and what I was meant to do on this earth.
Well, at least I thought I did. Until the change made me.
In the summer of 2009, I got to lay myself and everyone else off from the company I worked at. It was the result of a merger that was completely unexpected, and came at one of the worst times the American economy (and job market) had gone through in almost a century.
Practically overnight, I went from being a nonprofit executive who was proud to be creating jobs. . . to being one of many talented unemployed people out there looking for a job.
Needless to say, it sucked.
And as I look back on that time, I think it sucked because I resisted it. Just like how when you walk into a pool of cold water and tense up your entire body, thinking it will help ease the transition. It doesn’t. It just leaves you feeling cold AND tense! But when you allow yourself to relax into the temperature of the water, the cold passes more quickly and you find yourself thinking “oh, it’s actually not so bad” and can start swimming about and having fun.
When we relax into the discomfort, we can make the change.
After tensing up against the cold and trying again and again – without success – to find another nonprofit executive job, I relaxed into the discomfort. I acknowledged that the way usually “opens up” and is easier when I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing, and looking for another nonprofit job right then was like bashing my head into a brick wall over and over again. Not easy. Not open. Certainly not magical!
So I stopped looking. I acknowledged that this was probably not what I was meant to be doing right now, and I stepped out of my comfort zone. I opened myself up to the possibility of doing something else, and that’s when my business as a graphic facilitator emerged.
I have to be honest with you: creating and running my own business has been AWESOME! I’ve had so many opportunities to travel and meet amazing people and work with outstanding teams on awesome projects. . . I can’t even put into words how powerful and profound an experience it has been to get to work with the people I’ve worked with.
Fast forward to 2015, and my business is riding high. I know what I’m doing as a business owner. I know who I am, what I am about, what I stand for, and what I am meant to do on this earth.
Uh oh. Sound familiar? It did to me, too!
That’s how I was feeling right before I got to lay myself and everyone else off back in 2009. Oh crap! Time for me to start paying a different kind of attention. Time for me to stop feeling so comfortable!
That’s why, when earlier this year I received an absolutely unexpected invitation from a client I dearly love, I forced myself to become uncomfortable. Rather than clinging to what keeps me comfortable and shooting the invitation down with an automatic “no”, I stopped myself and heard Chris’ words echoing in my brain:
Make the change before the change makes you.
So I stayed open and curious. I allowed my thinking to expand for what could be possible with this invitation, and what I could contribute to this new world and space. I let go of what I thought I was supposed to be “doing” and focused more on who I was . . my core values and purpose in this world. After sitting with a lot of really uncomfortable thoughts, I realized that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and say “yes” to this magical opportunity.
This was – hands down – one of the most scaryexciting “yes’s” I have EVER said! I am walking off of a very strong, solid and familiar cliff to experience the unknown, and I have no idea what’s going to happen.
No, that metaphor isn’t quite right: it’s more like being in my safe little spaceship in outer space, opening the door, and stepping out into the universe for my first space walk. If you had a line to the audio feed from my space suit, all you’d hear right about now is me hyperventilating as I steel myself to take my first step into the vastness of this new place.
Am I out of my comfort zone? Yes, yes I am.
Is it scary? Fuck yeah it is! Little Miss Loves-To-Know-What-To-Expect has no idea what’s going to happen or how things are going to turn out!
Is it exciting? Dear God, yes! I cannot WAIT to see what happens with this!
Because I’ve learned something over the course of these last six years.
What we happen to do is always going to change over time. It just is. In my life I’ve been a student, secretary, answering machine voice, heavy junk mechanic, book seller, motor pool typist, staffing coordinator, manager, executive, entrepreneur, business owner, and graphic facilitator, just to name a few roles. What I do today will be different from what I do a month, a year, a decade from now. And that’s just fine with me.
What we happen do to will change over time. But who we are at our CORE – what we believe, what we value, and how we show up as a result of those beliefs and values – THIS is the thing that truly guides and shapes our next actions. THIS is the thing that is always with us. THIS is what shapes our decisions. THIS is what shapes our future.
And the only way we get to clarify and refine our core is to make ourselves uncomfortable. To challenge our status quo. To test our beliefs. To step away from what’s familiar and step into the unknown.
As Lewis Carroll once wrote, ““IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”
All of these chances, relationships, and decisions occur only in the space beyond our comfort zones. . . in the space where the magic happens.
And you deserve all of these things and more.
Happy New Year, my friend.
As always, I cannot WAIT to see what you draw forth!
P.S. Want to receive my 2016 holiday card? I’ll need your mailing address, silly! Be one of the first 25 people to email me with your mailing and I’ll send you one of the extra cards I’m sending out this year. . . with lots of love and a great big hug! (And yes, addresses outside of the United States are just fine!)
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- Posted by Jeannel
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