All that stands between us and what we desire to accomplish is an invisible border. No passport is required to cross it. No guards secure the gate. No German Shepherd with sharp teeth, a spiked-collar, and an ID tag marked Killer prevent us from proceeding. Yet, the mere thought of approaching the line strikes fear in our bones.
As scary as we make that line out to be, there’s nothing preventing us from crossing it except fear.
The area within the periphery is our comfort zone. It’s safe. We know what to do. It’s not necessary that we push ourselves. Here, we can just go with the flow.
But there’s a restlessness that rumbles under the surface when we settle. We know we have more to offer. Not exerting ourselves takes a toll on the mind and eventually leads to a dull kind of misery.
Even though we fear what could happen if we pushed the boundary, the real punishment occurs when we don’t push ourselves.
What We Tell Ourselves
“I’m not a tech person.” I repeated those words so many times through the years, I believed them to be true. If I had a computer or tech related problem, I just called the Information Technology department. But there was no IT staff to ring anymore.
After leaving the human resources profession to transition to a writing career, I no longer had the luxury of working with a team and their expertise. I was a solo operation. My responsibilities included production, administration, marketing, and much to my horror, technology.
Henry Ford said it best, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
I was clueless and full of doubt. In all my visions of being a writer, the technical knowledge required never crossed my mind. Once I jumped in, there was much to learn. The thought of building a website to host a blog terrified me. I kept repeating, “I’m not a tech person.”
Months lingered. My heart rate increased every time I dared consider an attempt. I could have hired someone else to build the website but I knew I needed to learn since this was a long-term commitment.
For decades, I put writing off for someday. The moment was never right. Too many other responsibilities. Writing wasn’t practical. This time around, technology was my excuse. Yet, the urgency of time kept pressing on my soul.
I’d heard one too many people express regret for what they didn’t do and I could no longer bear the thought of that being me. So, I decided to challenge my belief and see if I could do it.
Though overwhelmed, I started where I was. I began researching, reading, and going through tutorials. Step by slow step, the website came to life. Because I lean toward the overcautious approach, the process took a while. Then one day, nothing was left but to go live and publish a post.
With the piece ready, all I had to do was click the publish button. I stared at it. Then walked away. Stared at it some more. Made a snack. Walked around outside. Stared at the screen again. After a long hour, with hands shaking and heart pounding, I clicked Publish.
Quickly, I grabbed my phone and punched in the web address. There it was. Two puzzled Jack Russell Terriers watched me dance my way across the kitchen floor.
A New Motto
In a workshop a few months later, I listened to a presentation about website improvements. Much to my surprise, I understood most everything discussed. Somewhere through the process of building my initial website, I learned a new language that included terms like widgets, plugins, and SEO.
That was the moment I realized the boundary of my comfort zone had greatly expanded. I wondered what made me think I wasn’t a tech person. With this accomplishment under my belt, I started wondering what else I’d been telling myself that just wasn’t true.
Today, I have a new motto that leaves room to continue pushing myself over that imaginary line. “If I can do this, what else can I do?”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. said, “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
The invisible border surrounds every one of us. Remember, there’s another line, the finish line. If we ever hope to cross that one, we must first gather the courage to stretch ourselves.
In what area do you wish to expand your comfort zone?