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Merrily Skipping Into the Unknown

02/09/2009 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

There's an amazing quote that says: "Everything you want out of life lies on the other side of your comfort zone." Another amazing quote reads: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Then there's the all too true: "Ass, grass or cash, nobody rides for free." The first is rumored to be none other than Jennifer Aniston. The second was the glorious Anais Nin. The third I read off a beer cozy at a truck stop. I bring them up to illustrate that no matter who you are, where you are in your life or what kind of hog you ride, in order to grow you must experience a certain amount of "discomfort." And before we get too excited about the pity party we now get to throw for ourselves, I want to stop and look at the word "comfort."

According to dictionary.com, "Comfort = a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants, with freedom from pain and anxiety."

Yet how does wasting away in our own comfort zones, our own personal versions of utter mediocrity, fit this definition? How is charging less than we're worth or not asking someone out or not growing our businesses comfortable? I believe that words are incredibly powerful, and I think it's essential we redefine this if we're ever going to crawl our way out of it. When we're talking about inertia and playing small, we're not talking about our comfort zone. We're talking about our familiarity zone.

Comfort is big fluffy pillows, high thread counts and a head massage. There's nothing comfortable about lying there so long you get bedsores, but we'll do it because it beats heading off into the unknown. Or so we think.

The key to growth is acknowledging your fear of the unknown and jumping in anyway.

Because our thoughts and perceptions define our realities, you need to redefine the way you perceive the unknown. Start thinking of it as exciting, exhilarating, something to throw yourself into and conquer. We've all done it at some point in our lives -- how much better and more alive does that feel than worrying away on the couch eating a plate of mashed potatoes?

Will they run from you if you start charging twice what you do now? Who knows. Will you lose everything you've got if you open your own restaurant? Who knows. Will unleashing your secret desire to teach tap dancing ruin your reputation as a professional wrestler? Who knows. And who cares? Unless your unknown puts you at risk of death, prison or bodily harm, you have nothing to lose except living a dull, uninspired life.

At this particular time in history, the familiar is crumbling around us - we are literally being forced to grow and rebuild ourselves. We have never been in such times of uncertainty and change, and we can either crawl around on the floor, desperately searching for crumbs of what used to be or throw ourselves into what's next like giddy little idiots. Life is an attitude and we're being given the ultimate opportunity to rise to the occasion. Pick the one thing that you've really been putting off, that seems too big or too scary or too whatever and do it this week. You might be very pleasantly surprised.