A river one inch deep and a mile wide is not an obstacle.
A river one inch deep and a mile wide is not an obstacle. Photo by Red O’Laughlin

Comfort zones was a topic of discussion recently. What is my comfort zone and how can I step over the edge?  Maybe it can be better phrased – what am I afraid to do by myself?  What do I delay doing on a regular basis?  What is constantly on my ‘to do’ list that never gets done?  What areas of expertise do I always rely on someone else’s help?  There are lots of ways to define the edges of your comfort zone.

The first step in any problem that has to be solved is to recognize everything that is known.  This can be as simple as a math question in which you have to solve for an unknown.  You have to know what is known first.  If I know that I am overweight and that I like to eat anything in sight and don’t exercise, then I know a lot about the problem and maybe some of the solutions.  The problem is to identify everything about the problem first.

Let’s say that there are five projects on your ‘to do’ list that never gets done.Sometimes they disappear for a while, but they always reappear.  This is probably a clue.  Why are they not getting done?  If you can honestly answer that question, then you can begin by putting your big toe over the comfort zone line.

We don’t do things for several reasons, but they mostly boil down to one. Fear of failure is the major reason.  But, you might say, I have my IRS stuff to do and I keep procrastinating, but I’m certainly not afraid of doing it.  Yes, you actually are afraid of doing it to a degree. Unconsciously you might harbor some fear about making an error on completing the IRS forms.  Or, you might say that you just can’t get around to cleaning out your garage or closet.  Is this fear, or simply laziness?

Are procrastination and fear related?  Procrastination becomes a habit over time.  There is an old Hindu proverb that says, “It is not the size of the tree, but the depth of the roots that make it strong.”  You have developed your skill of procrastination to a degree that you can apply it to most anything you want.  You have mastered putting off things. Procrastination is intertwined with organization, priority setting and distractions.  But, procrastination is also integrated into fear.  Sometimes it is difficult to separate them.

Fear motivated procrastination is seen when you have an intense desire to delay doing something (IRS, cleaning the closet, etc.).  What if my desire is not that intense?  Who is to say how intense your desire is?  Desire is typically based on what you want to do today.  Procrastination is fear playing rational and irrational games with your subconscious mind.

How many of you have said to yourself, ‘I know that I should do it, but I just can’t do it right now (today).’  Or, ‘I planned to do it today, but when the time came, I didn’t feel like it.’  The first statement addresses discipline and the second is discomfort.  Both are terms that you personally choose to avoid in your comfort zone.

But, what got you to that level of avoidance – frustration, exasperation or infuriation?  Something started you on the path to avoid the discipline of what you know you should do, but don’t; and, the discomfort of not doing something because you don’t feel like it.  I’m not a shrink and don’t have the answer.  But, knowing the workings of your subconscious mind very well, I can recommend that you try the little or big toe approach.

Let’s cut to the chase and go right for the jugular vein on this type of solution – you need to start and have a small success.  Then you need to start again and have a small success.  Prepare by taking a portion of one of your old ‘to do’ tasks and break off a small segment – 30 minutes or less.  Think about it for several hours.  Tell yourself that you are doing it because it is important to get it done – present tense (your subconscious mind doesn’t understand the future – it operates in the here and now).

Tell yourself several times that it must get done today and that you are the only one who can do it.  You are preparing your subconscious mind to accept the fact that it must be done today and that you are the only one who can do it.  Tell yourself that it is easy once you get started.  You are programming yourself for success.  Draw a line in the sand – set the exact time you will begin working this project.  The objective is to begin on time and to accomplish something meaningful on your project.

Once you have done that section of the project, define the next step that must be taken to gradually whittle away the project to its completion.  It requires more mental effort than physical.  Keep everything personal, proactive, important and present tense to keep your subconscious mind engaged to help you complete it.  Your discipline will improve and your discomfort levels will diminish.  Your comfort zone will grow by inches – one toe at a time.


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