I would not describe myself as a risk taker. Typically, even calculated risks have been outside of my comfort zone. I have shaped my life based on what I thought was “successful” and that was “safe”. I have multiple college degrees, been in leadership roles as a Director and Vice President of Human Resources, owned a home, and did all the daily things of what I was programmed to think was success. The problem with this was, when those accolades dissipated, I would go right back to reality… and my reality was that I was miserable. Over the last few years – maybe even dating back to my 20s – I have gone through what I call my “lost” periods. These “lost” periods included a lot of overanalyzing to be happy while not stepping outside my comfort zone. I didn’t want to fail or disappoint others and it became a never ending cycle. Don’t get me wrong; I am proud of my accomplishments, but they are not what define or fulfill me.
I struggled to figure out what was missing in my life. I constantly filled it with more: more work, more stuff, more…anything that fit what I thought would be something I could achieve and would be approved of by others, and time and time again I found myself feeling lost. I couldn’t step outside of my comfort zone because I was ruled by fear. The “what if I fail” demon that lives inside all of us and will hold us all hostage inside our own mind if we let it. Yes, this demon controlled every aspect of my life. The worst part was, I allowed it. It didn’t matter if it was my personal life, my professional life, my physical fitness, or anything else in my life because I allowed that fear to dictate every decision.
While I could list out all the things I didn’t do, and all the time I lost, I won’t. Part of moving forward is learning from that past so you do not repeat it and focusing your energy on what you do have control over: your decisions. If I sit here and dwell on the “what if,” I will start the negative cycle all over again and I am no longer headed in that direction.
While being a person who is somewhat naturally risk averse, I will always have those thoughts and fears. I will however, not let them control me. In 2021, I have taken huge steps towards this. I recently left my job, sold my house, moved to another state for three months and attended a professional wrestling school, and yes, you read that correctly, and met people who mean more to me than they will ever realize. While even typing those words sounds a little out there, I can tell you the last three months have been some of the most eye opening and influential times I have ever had.
Before I stepped outside my comfort zone, I really did not know what was missing in life. I have spent years trying to fill that hole in myself and believing in the “if I could just get X, I will be happy”. How many times have we told ourselves if we just could lose ten pounds, or if I could save X amount of money I could do X and then I would be happy, or if we could just get that promotion, everything would be perfect? Everytime I accomplished my “if I could only…,” that satisfaction eventually faded and I found myself back in the same rut and in many cases missed the best parts of life.
Here are a few of the things I have learned during the last three months:
1.) Jobs and money will come and go and that is okay because experiences and memories are what matter.
2.) When you step outside of your comfort zone, know that amazing things can happen.
3.) When you meet a person or people who come into your life when you least anticipate it, a gap you didn’t even know you had, is filled. Appreciate those people.
4.) Just because something seems impossible, does not mean it is, so go after it.
5.) Everything takes effort and work. If you are not putting in the effort, you do not want it bad enough.
6.) When you meet people, whether they are just friends or that one person who you just feel a chemistry and connection with: don’t make excuses, just make it happen.
Lastly, 7.) Just because you step outside your comfort zone and try something new, does not mean you have to leave everything you liked in your comfort zone behind. It is all about balance.
As I reflect on everything that has been so eye opening recently, I am excited for what is next. I love that I do not need to know exactly what that is and I can literally make a plan, try it, and adjust as I go along. For the first time, I feel like myself and have people who support my adventure, wherever it takes me. I have new friends who are like family and I feel like I can finally live based off of what I deem to be success. Remember, failure is not ever attempting something; it is not learning from the things that you can adjust to make something better.
Dream big, whatever that is for you. Be okay with the idea that your definition of success is your own and others can and should differ, but that does not make you or them any less successful. Stop making excuses about why something can’t be done and start taking the steps to make it happen. Nothing is as crazy as staying in your comfort zone and expecting something different than what you have always had. You will miss out on the most amazing things or people in your life.