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Terry K Carr Headshot

5 Signs I Need to Get the Heck Out of My Comfort Zone

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ANXIOUS WOMAN
Jamie Grill via Getty Images

We all crave familiarity, some more than others. Me, I fall in the more-than-others category. My heart will race at the slightest suggestion that I move from my cozy spot; whether it's a rent-controlled apartment in a gone-bad neighborhood, an old idea about who I am or a relationship that's no longer working (job or otherwise). Hey, I get distressed when my shoes are too tight. If I had my own clothing line, it'd be called, "Pajama Wear." Get the picture?

Maybe it's the bad choices I made in the past that hold me back, or the fact that I'm just a plain ole' scared-e-cat. All right, let's say both are true. So? The question still remains: Do I want to live the rest of my life in a comfort zone so safe it's becoming a coffin?

Here are five signs that tell me I need to get the heck out of my comfort zone.

5. The One Fell Swoop Solution

When I think of taking a risk, it's huge. So huge it's going to wipe away the old and bring in a whole different deal. In fact, the bolder I make it, the more revved I get until I'm so overwhelmed, I need a nap. The grander the idea, the more likely it isn't going to get done. The one-fell-swoop solution is a sure sign I'm buried deep.

4. Escalation

I notice where before I require only simple directions when traveling outside my area, it's graduated to detailed printed maps. Then when printed maps are not enough, I locate nearby 7-11's or landmarks. And just before not leaving my comfort zone at all, I've peaked to calculating how many potentially dangerous left-hand turns I need to make. It's not the content in this example that is the sign, it's the escalation itself.

3. Closed Mind Policy

Say someone tells me, "You should do blank-e-blank." When I think to myself, 'this person doesn't know blank-e-blank' - that's my sign. Not that I should take their advice, because I probably shouldn't, it's a sign my mind is shutting the door on ideas before giving them consideration, and if it's a habit, I am definitely in deep.


2. Vague White Flag

Having a gauzy sense of pointlessness, not an up-front obvious vibe; much more pernicious than that. Recently I had a dream that woke me up to what it was. I dreamt I was on the desert surface and in the distance I saw a white flag so faded it was beige and had blended in with the sand. I'd given up somewhere along the line. But on what? Things I thought I'd never have? What were those, again?

1. Above and Beyond Adapting

Being adaptable is usually regarded as a fine trait. Not for me. Not in my family. As an example of why that is, I'll cite the frog soup fable. In case you haven't heard it, it goes something like this:

A chef puts a pot of cool water on the stove and places a frog in it. The water's just right for the frog, he's comfy. Then slowly, the chef turns up the heat and, as the water warms incrementally, the frog adapts. Bit by bit, the temp rises until froggy is cooked, literally.

Now that scares me.

A close relative of mine had a similar coping style. Be happy, adapt was his mantra. When his marriage fell apart, he gave her the house and got another. When he lost his job, he got another that paid less but he found a way to be happy, adapt. Then he lost his home and adapted under a large batch of foliage conveniently located outside his place of work. When I expressed my concern that he was living in a bush he said, "You get used to it, Babe."

You know that saying, "Leap and the net will appear?" Well, unless you're in a circus, that's just not true. And, if there's a net, how is it a risk?

Net or not, this is my way of saying to the idea that I'm not capable of taking a leap outside my comfort zone, "Just watch me, Babe."