It’s easy to get stuck, doing things in the same old way. In fact, it’s often not until we encounter an expected change, that we are challenged to tackle it in an alternate way. Although I love what I do, at the end of 2016 I found myself wanting to choose to take on a new challenge.
After publishing my book, Reinventing Emma, the challenges ahead of me felt a bit mundane. I was stuck and focusing on those feelings of being reliant on others around me, only reinforced my feelings of powerlessness and dependency. I was craving a new direction but viewed new opportunities to go to as impossible or only likely to eventuate if assisted by another. In that mindset I was actually subconsciously handballing the responsibility to others.
But I’ve learnt, that I can only keep improving and growing if I break the habits of my daily routine and step out of my comfort zone. Although I have support around me to achieve, I need to initiate the change, take responsibility for it. One needs to be proactive for you to move forward in a valued direction. Here are three examples of ways I’ve tried to move out of my comfort zone and introduce change into my life.
My yoga practice is one area in my life where I felt confident to try to challenge myself. Being a supportive environment where I know the other yogis, instructors and positions, only made taking on the challenge more possible. For years I have always practised in the same spot, leaning on a nearby wall to help my balance. So, this year I have deliberately positioned my mat in a different location in the studio. Initially it was still near a supportive wall but on the other side of the room. Then, when more confident, I felt able to step even further out of my comfort zone, adapting my practice to balance on two purple blocks.
Getting Unexpected Results
My new practice has led to unexpected results. I definitely wobble more and I’m sure this challenges the other yogis’ focus in the room. But it’s amazing how it has revealed growth in other areas of my life. For example, my new spot so further back in the studio has meant I’m less reliant on my vision and more aware of the instructor’s auditory cues. My impaired hearing has been forced to improve.
Going Backwards?
There are times where I’m too tired or low in energy and rather than taking on the challenge, I place my mat near a wall at the front of the studio. It’s at these times when reverting to my original spot seems so tempting, I have chosen to set my mat up in an equally supportive spot. However, it is still different, so I don’t feel like I’m going backwards.
Educating Others?
Educating others about my new challenge was tough too. Telling them meant I was accountable. Overtime I’ve become confident to ask someone to move my mat if they habitually place it in my ‘nook’. Having their support and knowing that the other yogis are aware of my plan, makes it so much easier to sustain.
The other area that I was keen to grow in was my passion for travelling. Reliant since my stroke on others to assist me, researching overseas travel has made me so aware of the many obstacles that I need to consider. For years, learning that these barriers existed meant that I didn’t explore those pathways any further. I ruled out any possibility of travel – again putting it in the too hard basket. I told myself that ‘maybe one day when this changes…’ or ‘ I can get more help…’ it would be possible.
Be Proactive
But I’ve decided that in order to travel I have to push through these barriers. Be proactive and make it possible. Whilst researching tours suitable for my situation, I learnt that I in fact didn’t have to limit myself to bus trips with people a lot older than me and looked into cruises. The thought of traveling at sea was a huge fear of mine but learning that it met many of my needs, being more accessible and age appropriate, I booked and embarked on my first cruise. With hindsight the cruise only exposed more challenges and wasn’t at all what I’d envisaged. In fact, it was extremely rough crossing the Tasman Sea in the aftermath of cyclone Debbie.
Reinforcing Our Fears
At times facing our fears can actually reinforce them. The outcome isn’t always positive. But it’s here where we have a choice on how we view things. So those four days I spent at sea (whilst I confess to have had lots of negative thoughts like “We’ll sink” etc) I chose to tune into the positive ones. It gave me time to stop and reflect and be grateful for what I had on land. Thankfully, I think my already warped vision (my cloned spinning world), vertigo and balance issues, meant that I didn’t get sea-sick! Although my trip wasn’t what I’d expected, I now can say I’ve trialed it.
Becoming a speaker has been an amazing career path for me. Although I’m now used to travelling solo around Australia, spreading my message internationally to a different audience was the next step for me. Again, I dismissed the idea of this, telling myself that it would be too taxing and not financially feasible. But now having Reinventing Emma available, gave me a reason to exit my comfort zone. After months of organizing, I went to New Zealand, close enough to test international travel solo. Here I spoke to both audiences in Hamilton and Auckland. In fact, I presented seven times in four days as well as doing an ambassador trip whilst there. Until then, when travelling interstate I’d only committed to one speaking engagement.
It’s scary how much fear of doing something stops us! I encourage everyone to consider reviewing your familiar tasks and doing a component of this a bit differently. Choosing to challenge yourself in an area you’re already comfortable with and feel supported in doing, slightly differently, is a great place to start. Lastly, be mindful of your mindset when considering challenging yourself. Is your thinking getting in your way? Is it helpful? We all have a choice in how we face challenges. Let’s choose to take a positive spin on things and grow.