Gumby Goals: 3 Tips for Stretching Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Do you want to open up new possibilities for your life and career? Then get ready to stretch yourself!
If you are starting a business, wanting a new career, or trying to achieve your next level of success, you will be required to do things that are uncomfortable, sometimes scary, even embarrassing if you want to thrive. You have to become Gumby. The notion of bending and stretching yourself beyond comfort can’t just be something that you DO…it must become a part of who you ARE. Just as practicing the habits of healthy eating will eventually make you healthy, we must practice the habits of stretching ourselves if we want to become someone who can harness change and uncertainty to create amazing possibilities. You can begin your adventure of becoming comfortable with discomfort by practicing these three habits:
1. Actively seek out a stretch opportunity.
You’ll know it when you come across these opportunities because your first instinct will be to say “no”. They will be those situations ripe with possibilities that are just beyond your reach and make you want to say,
“I’m not cut out for that…” or
“I’m not good enough for…” or
“I don’t know how…”or
“I’m not qualified…”
Imposter syndrome will seep out of your pores when these opportunities arise. But here’s the thing…you’re not an imposter if you do it, so take the opportunities that will require you to do something you’ve never done.
2. Start “unplanning”.
If you are a planner by nature, this may be a tough one. Rather than starting with a plan or setting specific goals, try creating a vision for what you want that is filled with unknowns. When we make detailed plans of action, we are basing those on what we currently know. As you grow, you learn more, so have a plan with gaps-places that you may not know exactly how it will happen or what will be required. Having that unplanned piece will make you more alert to those unexpected opportunities that may lead you in the direction of your vision but will allow you to learn skills you couldn’t have planned. Bottom line…if you already know everything you need to know to create your vision, then it’s time to dream bigger.
3. Change the conversation in your head.
When uncertainty arises, it is usually because we doubt ourselves in some way. Maybe you doubt your ability or knowledge. If your first reaction to most uncomfortable opportunities is to say, “yes I know this would be great to do, but….” you must retrain your internal ears to recognize that, “yes, but”..as a neon sign telling you that THIS is a challenge that you are not comfortable with and therefore is likely worth exploring because it would require you to stretch. Instead of “yes, but”…try reframing your thinking to respond with “yes, so…” That one little word shifts the focus from limitation and creates a sense of responsibility, action, and possibility.
Athletes include stretching as a critical part of their training because it keeps their muscles pliable and allows them to push themselves to ever-increasing levels of performance. The same concept is true for our lives and careers. Keep stretching, and things that once seemed scary, uncomfortable, and impossible will be your new comfort zone.