Google the words “Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone” and you find numerous articles telling you how great it is. And maybe it is but what does it really feel like?
This week, I realized something. I am no longer just stepping out of my comfort zone – I am living there. I had a major task to complete. I have been hired to develop 12 recipes for an organic greenhouse using peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and eggplant. Developing the recipes was not difficult but the kicker was that I had to spend two days last week for a photo shoot at someone’s house, who I did not know well, preparing all the recipes, six each day, while the clients from the greenhouse were there.
Remember I am a baker, not a cook. And while I can cook, I am not used to cooking on a schedule, with an audience and cooking perfectly so the food can get their pictures taken. It also meant I had to stand for long hours and I was worried about my bad knee and hip.
This is just one example in my life where I am stepping out of my comfort zone. I stayed focused and told myself it is just two days and I just have to get through it. And while everyone was extremely nice, and things went well for the food at least, I was in a lot of pain. But I got through it.
The clients were very happy and already talking about the next project. Good, right? I should feel happy, right? No, I feel tired, stressed and anxious. This is what they never tell you about stepping out of your comfort zone. It feels like crap.
Yes, you progress when you do it. Yes, you learn and build confidence. Even when you fail, you learn and feel more in control because you now know what not to do. But it is not fun.
And when you are constantly doing things out of your comfort zone, there is no down time. There is no peace. There is no time where you say, okay now I can relax. It is just on to the next thing.
I am telling this in case you have felt this, too. This is to let you know you are not alone. Everyone feels this way but if you want more from your life, this is how it has to be. Seldom does something new and wonderful land on your doorstep. Overtime, what is new becomes comfortable and then you take another step out of your comfort zone.
And you should, otherwise what’s the point. As the saying goes, life begins at the end of your comfort zone
There is some good news. A 2014 study found that the process that forces our brains to do a new, demanding task improves brain function in older people. Sustaining this behavior continued the cognitive benefit. The study also found that sustained social activities did not benefit brain function.
That means skip the partying and stay on the path of learning new things, no matter how crappy it may makes you feel in the beginning.
Here is the first recipe that I developed that was published on the client’s website: Grilled Chicken Breast With Roasted Red Pepper Slaw Enjoy!
The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project, Denise C. Park et al, Psychol Sci. 2014 Jan; 25(1): 103–112.