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I remember the first day I met my my now-husband, Manny. It was in May of 2006 while I was completing my kinesiology degree at the University of Calgary.
I can remember feeling entranced by his seemingly fearless personality and constant energy. The fact that he was an Olympic Downhill ski racer and I didn’t ski at all certainly crossed my mind, but we just had fun together.
He would take me hiking, teach me to wake surf, play golf, ride a mountain bike, cliff jumping and of course skiing. While I was always active growing up and I don’t think I was hesitant with new challenges, I have always been a worrier. What will happen if…was a constant thought in my head.
I also remember the day I met Manny’s mom for the first time. On the frame around her license plate it said ‘alter your comfort zone’.
Gulp….oh man, I thought. I don’t know if this relationship is for ‘me’. Maybe I’m not adventurous enough?!
Now, I should give you the whole story that Manny’s mom Jane is not jumping off cliffs and riding motorcycles every day (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but she is always trying NEW things, different things, challenging things.
As you can see, one of the many things I have learned from the Osborne clan is the importance of trying something new. Maybe you like it, maybe you do not. But at least you tried, and there is always something to learn from the experience.
For me, a few of the learning experiences I have attained via skiing, sewing, glass-bead making, surfing, cliff jumping, long boarding, grass skiing, extreme hiking and mountain biking are that altering your comfort zone:
It is the fastest way to improve self-belief.
Self-belief is the ability to which we believe that we can accomplish a certain goal or task. This is also known as general self-efficacy.
Learning to ski was more challenging for me mentally than it was physically. I have always been athletic, and found it tough to start at square one with a new sport. Ultimately, the learning process helped me to experience vulnerability and trust with the friends who helped me along the way. It improved my self-confidence in taking on a new task that I couldn’t ‘do perfectly’ from the start.
When it comes to making effective dietary and exercise habit change, the degree to which we believe we can be successful is a huge predictor of our long term adherence to newly created habits.
Numerous studies show that self-efficacy is largely task specific, but the general confidence gained from trying an learning something new does have transfer to other aspects of our lives.
It spurs you to take action in other areas of your life.
Have you ever had a friend or colleague who lost weight or gained a healthy lifestyle only to change other areas of their life too?
I LOVE being a part of this snowball effect with my clients. When we take responsibility and ownership for what foods we choose to eat and how to move our bodies regularly, we see the power we have over our finances, relationships and many other goals.
It teaches you how to relinquish control.
And relinquishing control is HARD! One of my favourite authors, Brene Brown, writes that perfectionism is a ‘way to avoid feeling the negative emotions of failure’.
When I look back to my early days of school I can certainly see how my tendency towards perfectionism actually held me back. Getting straight A’s was ‘easy’ for me – I could avoid anger and frustration from my parents and teachers by just ‘doing everything right’ – So that is exactly what I did.
The challenge with striving for perfectionism is that you actually operate in opposition to the mindset of ‘failing forward’ or learning from your mistakes. Instead, you avoid mistakes at all costs by doing the tried, tested and true day after day.
Trying a new sport or hobby forces you to relinquish control and make mistakes over and over again. After all, this is the best way to learn, grow and gain mental strength.
The thing is, I am always caught encouraging my clients, friends and family ‘to do what works for them’. Altering your comfort zone is an area in which this principle applies too. For one person, altering your comfort zone could be standing up in front of a room full of people to speak. For others, it could be jumping off a cliff.
My friend Carol Donahoe of Strength Infusion is one of the most inspiring people I have met. Not only is she physically strong, she is hosting a #sayyes campaign over on her Facebook page for the next couple weeks. I shared the photo above on her page for one of my #sayyes moments.
A task for you: Take a few minutes and write down a few ways you plan to alter your comfort zone in 2015.
For me, I will be taking on a few more speaking engagements (which I love, but I definitely get nervous for!) and will continue to expand the offerings for my coaching business.
Bring it on, world!