You’ll never say never again.
Have you seen the movie Yes Man? It stars Jim Carrey as a man who never does anything fun. Nothing fun. Ever.
Then he decides to make a change. He decides to go from saying no to absolutely everything, to saying yes to anything and everything. As the film follows him on his journey, his experiences are sometimes hilarious, always slightly uncomfortable, definitely enlightening, and in the end, deeply rewarding.
I know it’s just a film, but I think it rings true in reality.
It’s probably about time I shut up about this already, but being open to trying something new is what I think set me up to start exercising.
See exercise is way out of my comfort zone. Way out. I am not a healthy living enthusiast. It’s not important to me. The only reason I try to watch what I eat and work out regularly is because I am deeply, deeply superficial and want to feel confident in (and out) of clothes. So for the longest time I ran from exercise like cats run from cucumbers. Walking was my only cardio. The only weights I lifted were heavy shopping bags. And I was fine with it, but I knew that for long-term wellbeing, I needed to exercise.
So, I was faced with a choice, stay comfortable, doing what I’d always done, or step out of my comfort zone and do something else? I think this is where most of us call it quits. We don’t want to be uncomfortable. Our comfort zone is called a comfort zone because we’re comfortable there. Nothing uncomfortable, nothing unfamiliar, nothing challenging, no uncertainty, no discomfort. The problem is that where there’s no discomfort and nothing to challenge us, there’s no room for us to grow or develop. We need discomfort in order to grow.
Unfortunately getting out of our comfort zones opens us up to failure, and we don’t like to fail. We don’t want to make mistakes, we don’t want to be last.
All of this is pretty logical. We’re wired to do things that give us positive outcomes. Failure is the opposite of a positive outcome, right?
When I decided to work out at the beginning of the year, I was the slowest in every workout (disclaimer: still the slowest). It did not make me feel good knowing I was the slowest in the class. You could say it made me feel like a failure. All that being said, the fact that I was at the class made it a success. I was slow, I couldn’t keep up, and I was last, but the fact that I was there at all made the failure a win.
Failing means we tried. Trying is a success even when we fail at what we try to do. We always gain something, whether that’s a new lesson, or another story we get to tell; trying always results in a win, even if we fail (now that’s an oxymoron right there).
Here’s how you break out of your comfort zone:
1. DON’T PLAY IT SAFE
“To achieve any worthy goal, you must take risks,” – John C Maxwell, Author of Failing Forward. Dare. Just try once. And if it’s awful, never do it again. But always be willing to try.
2. DO YOUR OWN THING
You can’t use other people as your benchmark. This was never truer for me than at the gym. If I compared myself to other people, I’d have quit immediately. I had to focus on myself. This isn’t just true for going to the gym. If you want to do different you have to think different. Be ‘okay’ with swimming upstream. Be ‘okay’ with coming up with your own way to do things. Not everything is set in stone.
3. LEARN FROM IT ALL
When I finished every new workout form this year I evaluated it. I asked myself, ‘was that fun?’, ‘do I feel like I got a workout?’, ‘would I do it again?’
“The only person standing in your way is you.”
– Black Swan, 2010
/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out
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