Serious question: when was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?
Until fairly recently, I’d have said, oh, all the time. Something about deadlifting or fighting people or going to a dance class or falling off a climbing wall, or things like that. But then I thought about it, and that’s not true. Not really.
I’ve been lifting and fighting for a long time. They aren’t outside my comfort zone at all. Even the worst-case scenarios that occur in them have predictable outcomes, things that I can cope with. If I do a workout like Jonescrawl – 25 box jumps, 10 90kg deadlifts, repeated for three rounds – I’ll hate it and feel like I’m going to be sick and perhaps roll melodramatically around on the floor afterwards, but it’s not totally out of my frame of reference. It’s part of my schema – I know how to cope with it. Lifting heavy things and falling off big things and getting elbowed in the face can build my ability to cope with adversity elsewhere, but they don’t really provide much adversity in themselves.
Here’s something a personal trainer friend said to me the other day: when he sees fat, unfit people who are new to the gym, he tries to put himself in their shoes. That doesn’t mean doing workouts that he finds tough: doing workouts isn’t uncomfortable for him. It means going to somewhere that’s unfamiliar, doing something you’ve never done before, which you know almost nothing about. Maybe that new guy sweating and hurting his way through a kettlebell workout that looks like your warmup has everything else in his life sorted: his finances and career is are locked down and under control. He’s outside his comfort zone now, but you’re sitting happily in yours. Right now, I’d be more scared of walking into a mortgage adviser’s office than trying to climb a V5 pitch over a load of pointy gravel. That’s no good.
So that’s what I’ll be doing more of this year: getting outside of my comfort zone. Sorting out my knowledge of things I haven’t traditionally enjoyed or understood as much as my stupid, dangerous hobbies – things like finances, mortgages and better organization in business. Things that scare me more than stepping into a cage or push-pressing 110kg over my head. The more I do it, the more my comfort zone should expand. One day, maybe, I won’t be scared of anything.
HOMEWORK: Work out where your comfort zone is. Work out what’s outside it. Consider getting on that.