You have likely heard the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.” Upon writing my 2013 goals, I realized I was fulfilling the essence of that quote when I transferred my unfinished 2012 goals to 2013. I’m a firm believer in “progress, not perfection” so I don’t have an issue with extending a goal that had not yet been fully completed, but something was missing. I wasn’t feeling very motivated about the New Year. I realized I was missing a stretch goal – something that would be meaningful to advance my business. So I added one stretch goal which will force me out of my comfort zone and require me to do things I haven’t done before.
It’s easy for us to repeat our actions and hard for us to do things differently because we are creatures of habit. Researchers suggest that up to 95% of our daily actions and thoughts are habitual. That’s a staggering statistic and when I facilitate the Energy for Life workshop for Allstate employees, they all agree that their lives fit this number. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we’re getting. The best example of this is how we build a muscle. Say you have been using a 15lb weight to build a bicep muscle for more than a year. You’ve probably gotten quite comfortable with that weight and your bicep will not grow any stronger. But if you want to build that muscle, then it would require you to increase your weight. You may not feel discomfort until the 8th or 9th repetition, but when you feel that discomfort, you know there will be results.
If you are happy and fulfilled both personally and professionally then your 95% is working for you. Congratulations. If there’s something you are striving for this year at work or personally, then it will require you to move from habit to more conscious effort. And guaranteed, your actions will feel awkward. I’m not suggesting you experience “pain” – that’s pushing yourself too far. But when you feel that you are in a place of discomfort and can say, “I can do this” then that’s a golden opportunity to advance toward your goal.
I committed myself to get outside my comfort zone in some way every day. Today that meant running two minutes beyond my usual time at a fast pace on the treadmill. Yesterday, it was staying silent when my son spilled his drink all over the kitchen table (I’m a bit of a neat freak so imagine my usual – “habitual” – way of communicating with him after such an incident). Find small ways to lean into discomfort and you will build much more than a bicep muscle.
I am interested in supporting you in advancing your goals. Please post your questions or commitments to getting outside your comfort zone.
And join me at the Chicago Women’s Conference on April 19, 2013 in downtown Chicago for an opportunity to stretch beyond your comfort zone, meet like-minded women, and learn practical ways to advance your work and your life.