Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stretch Yourself

How do you stretch yourself in a typical week?

When was the last time you read something simply because you were curious about a subject?

Are you content with where your life is? Or are you wanting to take your life to the next level? How do you define the next level?

If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?

What is one thing you could challenge yourself to do/learn/study in the next month, two months or season of life that would stretch you?

You might be thinking I just don't have time to do that right now, and maybe you are right. Some people already are working too hard and spend very little time with their families or doing something that will rejuvenate them. But many people are really good at making excuses as to why they won't do something that they have always wanted to do or even something that they have felt like they should do, but just don't think they have the means to do it.

What is one thing that you could implement in your life in the short time ahead of you that would either make you a better person or make the life of a person around you better?

There are different zones we have:

1. The Comfort Zone - this is the area of life we are comfortable in (I know, this is deep stuff). The comfort zone is all the stuff that we are good at and we have time to do every day. When we do things that fall into the comfort zone we don't get nervous, and our blood pressure stays pretty consistent.

2. The Panic Zone - this zone is about as opposite from the comfort zone as day is from night. The panic zone is filled with things that we do not know how to do, or they are things that we just don't face on a day to day level. When we are faced with these situations we fly into a... well, panic (again, I know, the clever level is astounding). Our blood-pressure rises, our nerves take over, and we launch into fight or flight. As a result, we don't learn much when we are in this zone.

3. The Stretch Zone - the final zone lies between the comfort zone and the panic zone. This is the area that... well, you guessed it, stretches you. This is something that is out of your daily routine, it is uncomfortable, and will take you a little more time to do than the things that lie in your comfort zone.

Now, if you are curious as to why the talk about all the zones we live in, I will tell you. The zone that you learn the most in is not the comfort zone like you might think. It is the stretch zone. Very little learning is done in the panic zone and growing is rarely found in the comfort zone. But, the stretch zone is uncomfortable because we don't know what we are doing when it comes to this zone of life. It isn't like being at home where we know the floor plan and what is on every wall like we know where every freckle is on the back of our hand. The stretch zone is more like moving to a new town where we don't really know how to get from one place to another. We can, because there are maps. We can even get familiar with that town to where we do know it like the back of our hand, because there are things to instruct us, and people to show us around and tell us where to find a short cut.

Evaluation is something I have been looking at a lot lately. I have been trying to evaluate where I am learning and where I am just doing what I have to. Evaluation is crucial to growth. If you want to grow, you must evaluate where you are and what you have or haven't been learning. There is no secret formula to this, just do it. Where are you? Where have you been? Where do you want to go? and how do you get there? Then, you have to do what is uncomfortable and stretch yourself to do new things and learn new things. It's the only way to grow. It's the only way to experience something you have always wanted to experience, but never had the opportunity to because fear held you back.

What is cool is a stretch zone does what it says, it stretches. And the thing it stretches is your comfort zone. So, as you spend time in the stretch zone, the things that were uncomfortable become comfortable.