Shaking the Snow Globe: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

by Connie

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Do you ever feel the need to shake up your world?  How do you step outside of your comfort zone?  Do you ever test yourself?  What are you looking to gain, when trying something unfamiliar?  Maybe you don’t ever feel the need to rock your world. 

I do, because I always end up gaining so much during and after the process. 

What You’ll Gain by Shaking the Snow Globe

I call it ‘shaking the snow globe’.  I like challenging myself.  I’m convinced the phrase, ‘I’ll try anything once.’ was created, with me in mind.  I want you to know, I truly, ‘Walk the walk’, as they say. 

Along my journey, I’ve scuba dived, snorkeled, sailed small boats, white water river rafted, gone tubing down rivers, rappelled down mountains, climbed up mountains, rode horseback across Virginia, camped my way across every state in the continental United States and every Canadian province, backpacked through the Andes Mountains, traveled to every one of the 50 states, as well as lots of incredible places outside of the US, piloted small planes, jumped out of small planes, gone hot air ballooning and hang-gliding, hiked and biked extensively, practiced yoga, Pilates, belly dancing, boxing, Ballroom dancing, Swing dancing, Latin dancing, NIA, and, let’s see…

Oh, yeah, once I even rode my bike down a toboggan slide in summer, on a dare.  I was 14.  The boy who challenged me said that, ‘Any boy would do it, but girls were too chicken.’  To this day, I’m not quiet sure if I ‘won’ or ‘lost’ that dare. 

Let’s just say, that was one of the things I would only try once.  It wasn’t my best experience, but it was certainly one of the most memorable.

I enjoy trying new things and experiencing the world through unaccustomed eyes.  I discover more about me, the friends I’m with, and people in general. 

I love new experiences.  It’s a way for me to encounter my world, in a new way. 

Keep in mind; I’m not a born natural, at any of them.  Like many of you, at first I flounder, and fail and fall.  The secret is in always getting up, again

And, yes, every once in awhile I get the opportunity to learn how I re-act to unexpected challenges, that come my way.  (Insert ‘biking down the toboggan slide’ event, here.) There are Life Lessons in those experiences, as well.

And, Away We Go…

One of my favorite ways of stepping outside my comfort zone is through travel.  My husband, Steven, and I love traveling.  We’re the ones planning our future trips, ad infinitum, while collecting photos of new destinations for our vision boards.   

We look forward to weekend get aways, long car trips, and travel within, and outside of, the United States. 

And, we’re really good at it, too, if I do say so, myself.  When faced with an unforeseen obstacle, a ‘travel travail’, as I call them, we generally make it through the uncertainty with laughter and a sense of humor while chanting one of our favorite mantras, ‘Hey, we’re on an Adventure!

We recently returned from a trip and I came to realize a few things about why I love, love, love to travel so much.  Which of these things do you relate to?  I want to share them with you, so here goes…

  • I love people.  I love learning about their stories, their lives, what brought them to where they are, what makes them tick.  How are we alike?  What do we have in common?
  • I love to learn.  Period.  Amen.  I love learning the history of new places.  I love learning new lingo and local customs.  Travel is the perfect classroom to absorb so many different lessons.  I’ve come to find the best lessons are the unexpected lessons, at that.
  • I love ‘shaking the snow globe’ of my safe, insulated and familiar world. This was my b-i-g realization, after our most recent Adventure.  Every once in awhile, I like to intentionally throw myself and my Life ‘off kilter’.  I like to shake things up a bit, on purpose. 

Here’s What You’ll Gain by Trying New Things

Here’s what you’ll gain, by stepping outside of your comfort zone:

  1. Jolting your equilibrium gives you a chance to learn more about yourself.  Just how far can you push the edge of the envelope and still feel safe and secure?  How much is too much? Changing things up tests you in ways, both great and small; yet none of the Life Lessons you receive are insignificant.
  2. Stepping outside of your comfort zone allows you to examine what truly matters.  It allows you to look at your world through a different lens.  It gives you the chance to question and examine what and why you believe, what you do.  The change in proximity may give you the chance to examine your relationships from a much different perspective.
  3. Shaking your snow globe educates you.  It gives you the opportunity to learn more about your world, on a much grander scale.  You can try new opportunities and experiences that you wouldn’t seek out, at home.  What do you care, if you fall off the paddle board, during your lesson?  You’re never going to see these people, again, are you? 
  4. You’ve provided yourself an instant achievement.  You’ve already won, just by putting yourself out there and trying something new.  So, ‘Yeah, you!’  Whoo, whoo, whoo!

While Steven and I were on our last Adventure, I realized that I like feeling a little uncertain and vulnerable.  When we figure out how to ask for directions in a foreign country, navigating unfamiliar transit systems, and we get where we intended, it feels like an automatic ‘Win!’  It’s a wonderful sense of achievement.

I’ve accomplished something outside of my comfort zone.  I know that I’ve grown from the experience; pushing myself towards the unfamiliar. The Strength to Fight is present, in an uncomplicated way.

Being in a vulnerable and uncertain place forces me to ask for help.  The Courage to Question is at play, on a simple level.

Interacting with strangers gives me the chance to listen to ‘my gut’.  I tap into my instincts and decide if the information they are sharing feels right and whether they seem trustworthy.  The Confidence to Choose appears in an elementary form. 

There are lots of dynamics at play here.  The Courage to Question, the Confidence to Choose and the Strength to Fight are all elements of living a Fiercely Positive Life.

Every one of these components energizes me and my Life.  That’s very empowering, don’t you think? 

Your life can be energized and empowered, too.

How Travel can Change Your Life

I’ve found that travel is one of the best ways in the world to temporarily ‘change things up’.  When traveling, you may vary when you eat or what you eat.  You may sleep in, get up earlier or stay up later.

You may need to communicate in an unfamiliar language.  You could pantomime to ‘talk’ with the locals.  (Just pretend you’re at a ‘Mad Men’ cocktail party, playing Charades.)

Or, like many world travelers, you might combine speaking and acting out your question, which instantly exercises your creativity. 

Your brain synapses will get a workout, if you need to convert the cost of something into another currency.  (Hey, wait a minute; did I just pay $30 for one croissant?)

With the high cost of luggage weight-restrictions, you learn just how much stuff you can do without.  And in our consumer-driven world, that’s a good thing to remind ourselves of, every once and again. 

Since it’s only temporary, you have the comfort of knowing that you will be returning to your familiar, comfy, ‘normal life’, within a number of days or weeks. 

The realization that this experience is only fleeting makes me appreciate the familiarity of home and my unfamiliar ‘travel home’, more deeply. 

I become more grateful for the bounty and fullness my home life has, while being thankful and enjoying the simplicity of travel life that seems less encumbered and, hopefully, less harried and less hurried.  

How You Can Shake Your Snow Globe

I’m sure you’ll find that when you change your surroundings or alter your life, in other ways, that your perspective naturally changes, too. 

You may have shaken your snow globe by traveling, like me.  Maybe you’ve tested yourself by moving far away from family and friends. 

You may decide that rocking your world means changing your hair or clothing.  Maybe you’ve decided to push yourself out of your safety zone, by taking up a new sport or hobby. 

The four gains you receive will be the same; however you choose to challenge yourself.  The ‘how’ isn’t significant.  It’s the ‘doing’ that causes your growth and expansiveness.

So what about you? 

  • Does the unfamiliar and unknown make you feel out of control or do you allow yourself to enjoy the mystery and uncertainty, in the Adventure?
  • Do you intentionally thrust yourself off your center point, every once in awhile?  If so, what are you looking to gain, by forcing yourself from your comfort zone?
  • Or, do you loathe the thought of change; even the small, fleeting deviations, from your norm?
  • If so, what is it about the thought of change that makes you uncomfortable?  Is there a fear you should be facing?  I challenge you to look behind the curtain to see what may be holding you back.

Whether you love change or loathe change, I’d love for you to share your perspective, with me.  Please write back and share your comments.

Oh, and I’ll be looking for you, in the security screening queue.  I’ll be the one with the big smile on my face; ready to start my next b-i-g Adventure!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Krystyna Domagala November 18, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Before I went to IIT, I lived an extremely sheltered life. I wasn’t allowed to go outside (very literally) until I was set loose in the south side of Chicago. Needless to say, taking the train alone after dark was always something that just… didn’t make me happy. But one day, I just decided to do it. It was probably one of the most liberating experiences I ever had because nothing bad happened. I knew that nothing bad was going to happen, but I needed to just transform my knowledge (knowing something like a fact out of a book) to wisdom (really understanding).

Unfortunately, that was one of my only times getting out of my bubble. I wish I had your courage! I like my bubble. Its warm and cozy. I hope that in time I’ll feel like wandering out of it a little more :)

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Connie December 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Krystyna,

Pushing through our fears, (either real or self-imposed) IS one of the most liberating things we can do for ourselves!

I’m SO proud of you for not only going to IIT, but for forcing yourself to take the train!

Courage is like any other muscle we have in our body. We need to excercise it, in order for it to grow! That will help you to grow, in addition to your courage.

There are more opportunities (some larger and some smaller) for to step outside your little bubble, Krystyna. I encourage you to give your courage a little excercise, in the coming new year!

Connie

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