Another New Year is upon us, and with it a plethora of goals being set and resolutions being made. I’ve written about this each of the past couple of Januarys, both in the context of resolutions vs. goals and real change as well as changing mindsets. Call it what you want, but come January 1st of each year, most of us are thinking about what we want to do differently in the upcoming year.
This year I’m taking a little bit different spin on resolutions, goals, and mindsets. For at least a part of 2015, the idea of comfort zones (and breaking out of them) was a theme in my own life. In fact, I wrote a piece a few months ago about that topic, a personal one inspired by events happening around me in my own life and the lives of others I know, and one that based on feedback and comments resonated with quite a few other folks who read it as well.
Several months later, I still stand by what I wrote. Too many of us linger in what’s comfortable and familiar rather than pushing ourselves into what could be a little scary at first in the spirit of bettering ourselves, our lives, our situations. But I now also think that recognizing the tendency to linger in a comfort zone and wanting to do something about it is one thing. Actually doing something about it is another thing altogether.
“It Takes Guts to Get Out of the Ruts”
A couple of months ago I stumbled across this tidbit in the form of a fortune cookie. Most of the time fortune cookie fortunes either make me a chuckle, or just make me say “huh?” But every once in a while I come across one that I find to be a little more poignant in its message, and this was one of those times. I kept that fortune and hung it on my refrigerator. I knew there was something about it I liked and that inspired me, but it took me some time to put my finger on exactly what was resonating. Eventually what I realized is that it caught my attention because it actually related directly to that concept of pushing out of comfort zones that I had already explored earlier in the year.
Call them comfort zones or call them ruts; perhaps there is a subtle difference between the two, but both imply a sort of being “stuck” in one place. The difference as I see it is that that generally “ruts” are something we consciously want out of, comfort zones, by their very definition, maybe not so consciously. But either way, whether we want out of them or not, they’re preventing us from moving forward.
But again, the desire to break out of a rut or comfort zone, to make changes, is just the start. What’s required to actually do it? That’s often where the guts come in. It’s often not easy. It often requires taking action that scares the hell out of us. It may require strong will, tests of character, and gumption to make it happen.
Sometimes it means needing to finally stand up for ourselves and say “what about me?” It may mean having to confess feelings…to others, or even scarier admitting them to ourselves. Many times it means facing the possibility of being shot down, of facing rejection, of being told no, of having a door closed in our face. Of facing the possibility of failing. It may mean spinning our wheels in one place for a little while to build up the momentum to move forward. It may leave us exhausted, frustrated, or even at wits end.
But with persistence, it can also pay off exponentially. At the very least, it may provide us with clarity and answers for where to go and what to do next.
So as we face a new year, a blank slate waiting to be written upon, which ruts do you find yourself in? Which comfort zones are you ready to push yourself out of? And more importantly, what are you willing to do to, even sacrifice, to make that happen?
2016….bring it on!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.