Have you considered doing something new lately? Is there something that you are keen to try but are scared in case you fail? Perhaps you’ve already achieved a certain goal but fear a worse outcome second time around?

When times in our lives become tough or busy we often resort to taking the easy option and staying within our comfort zones. Remaining in this safe realm is fine and ‘normal’, but does it challenge us?

Many argue that you can only be successful in life if you’re born with a ‘talent’. In fact, it’s people who believe that success stems from a talent you’re born with that are less likely to practise or work hard to achieve their dreams to be successful. It’s natural to watch a successful person perform with ease and forget that behind their performance are hours of practise and millions of failed attempts.

According to Ciarrochi, Hayes & Bailey (2012)1 the two main principles of success are;
1) Successful people practise a lot… “succeeding is less about talent and more about practicing” (Ciarrochi et al., 2012 p 120) and
2) In order to develop, gain new skills and challenge themselves, successful people have to spend time out of their comfort zones.

So, if being successful in life involves practise, even in an unknown zone, what is it that prevents us from practising? And what would it take to get us to practise more often?

In my life, two events took place recently that really made me practise. In the first instance, my flippers, which I had become reliant on to swim laps at my local pool, went missing. After weeks justifying why I did not couldn’t swim laps ‘unflippered’, I became resigned to the fact that my flippers were gone. I was forced to enter an uncomfy zone and challenged myself to swim without them.

The second event took place after I came to the realization that pushing myself out of my comfort zone was necessary to further challenge myself. Rather than being forced by an external event (such as loosing my flippers) to make change, I realized that I could actually choose to initiate changes in other areas such as in in my yoga practice.

Last year, after months of practising I was able to ‘jump through’ from a ‘downward dog’ position to a standing posture. However, once I’d accomplished this move and videoed it as proof, I’d reverted back to my old ways. As time has passed, the prospect of attempting this sequence movement again, terrified me. Rather than facing possible failure or injury, I opted to stay in my security zone. Subsequently, I stopped practising and was at a point of feeling ‘stuck’ and not challenged in my yoga sessions.

Today I decided to step out of my comfort zone where I’d been in for months where I’d justified (with tiredness, the weather – anything!) not practising the sequence or taking on a new challenge. My monkey mind was full of thoughts like, ‘You’ve already done this Em, why do you need to do it again? “ You’ll do it worse than before and may hurt yourself” to ‘‘seriously Em your balance is shocking and you won’t be able to pull that off again”. I chose to acknowledge these thoughts and told myself that it was possible, choosing to flip my negative self talk and fill my mind with positive affirmations like ‘I can’, ‘you can do it Em’, ‘it’s possible!’

Do you justify not challenging yourself because you’re too tired or time poor or attempting it may cause new problems? Was there a milestone or goal in your life that you reached and then stopped practising or striving for?
It’s so easy when you reach a goal, to quickly celebrate it and then move on. But it’s that goal that you’ve reached that you need to practise and practise. Consider that the longer you leave it before you attempt it again, the thicker the walls of your ‘comfort zone’ will become. Rather than creating possibility, you’ll be surrounded by the fear that the zone’s walls will collapse and be forced to enter the unknown.

Remember, success is less about talent and more about practising. Failure is not falling down, it’s staying down – so let’s choose step out of our comfort zone, get back up and practise.

1. Joseph V. Ciarrochi, Louise Hayes and Ann Bailey (2012). Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life Canada: Instant Help Books