Life Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone
Living VS Existing
Do you ever meet people who seem to have an amazing life, with exciting activities and various things going on all the time? Most of us know someone like that. Now, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum: do you know anyone who doesn’t do anything other than work (if they have a job), watch TV, and sleep? Most of us know lots of people like that. For some people, existing is enough; it’s all they want out of life. For some of us, existing isn’t enough; we need more.
Life happens outside your comfort zone. If you want more out of life, then you have to be ready to step away from the same old, same old; you have to be willing to do things you’ve never done before, learn knew things, meet new people, explore the unknown. This is a scary experience. You’re going to feel uncomfortable and nervous, like you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s okay! That means you’re doing it right.
Jump in the Deep End
Whatever it is that you want to do, the only way to do it is to do it. If you want to start playing soccer with the open league on Saturdays, the only way to do it is to go to the field on Saturday and get involved. There’s nothing wrong with doing research, don’t get me wrong. With some things, proper research is critical.
The trap lies within the tendency to “research” whatever it is indefinitely, and never actually get started. We judge ourselves by our intentions (rather than our actions), so it’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re living, doing stuff, getting more out of life, etc, when all we’re really doing is thinking about it. So, set a timeframe that’s realistic, learn what you need to learn, and get started.
There are two ways to fool yourself about how you’re doing. One is to measure yourself against someone who is a master at what you want to do. The other is to measure yourself against someone who is a novice at what you want to do. Neither one of these is an accurate way to measure how you are doing.
The only true way to measure your progress is to measure yourself against yourself. Where are you at now compared to six months ago? A year ago? If you’re in the same place, then you haven’t improved much. That’s okay if you are where you want to be. For me, I have a long way to go. However, as I write this, I’m miles ahead of where I was last year at this time.
For example: a year ago, I had just completed my first book, Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband. I didn’t know that I needed beta readers to help me find and fix problems with the writing before I moved forward with it. I didn’t know how to find an agent or an editor (or if I even needed one), I didn’t know that my writing skills were lacking, I didn’t know how to do anything that I wanted to do to get my book published. So, I went to a writer’s seminar, where I met some people. I joined a writer’s group. I began building a network of contacts. I went to a major writer’s conference, where I learned all kinds of things and met some industry professionals. I found online resources that taught me a lot about the processes. I planned and wrote two more books, each better than the first one. I learned things, I improved my process, and I expanded my network.
If I measure myself against Stephen King, then I am a failure. If I measure myself against someone who has written a rough manuscript but doesn’t know what to do next, then I am doing great. Neither one of these are accurate, though, and they don’t tell me how I’m doing.
In 1 year, my circle of writing people has increased from 1 to over 75. My knowledge on the craft of writing has increased tremendously. My experience has increased through the writing of 2 more books. My knowledge about the publishing process has increased significantly. My goals for 2018 outline a very specific process for getting my 3 manuscripts turned into published books by this time next year. Next year, I should be able to compare where I’m at then to where I was at when I wrote this blog and see major forward progress. That’s how I accurately measure myself.
Life Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone
You must accept that change is the name of the game. If you want your life to be different in some way, then you can’t be resistant to change. It sounds like an obvious point, but you have to be conscious about it, because most of us are naturally resistant to change. One of the best tools I’ve found for this is listening to podcasts for small businesses. Some of them, such as StoryBrand and Social Media Marketing (two great podcasts, free tip!) interview top-level business coaches and business leaders every week. I have learned an immense amount from the very best experts about things I didn’t even know I needed to know.
One of the things they say all the time is that life happens outside your comfort zone. Top CEO’s of major corporations talk about feeling like they’re in over their head, and how they learned how to keep on going from someone else. How to avoid becoming paralyzed by fear. These are things I need to know as a small business owner, because I deal with them, too. Guess what? I’ve found all sorts of ways to apply things I learn from those people to seemingly unrelated things, like my website development business, my writing, and my personal life. It’s all tied together, and I don’t have to learn all the lessons in life the hard way. I can learn from others, and podcasts are a fantastic resource for that.
It Never Ends
Life is all about the journey. The journey, at least for some of us, is all about growing, improving, learning, becoming better, doing more, and living. I want more, and I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to make that happen. You can, too. You can develop the discipline and the knowledge to do what you want to do, be who you want to be. You can start today. You can start right now. Go. Do. Be. Live.
J. Boyd Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the big blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com