Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

Plebe boxing, I remember it like yesterday.

The boxing instructor was also my football coach.  A Spartan-like Marine Corps Major whose only rule (and grading criteria) was if you backed-up, you failed.  The only profound statement former unified heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson ever made was,

“everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” 

In a way, Coach was making it easy – he expected his fighters to meet their adversary and never back down.  Forward – always.  Or as the 5th Marine Regiment moniker proudly proclaims, “Retreat, Hell!”  From fear and challenge I discovered an invaluable life lesson.

When was the last time you really felt scared?  Chances are it was the last time you broke free from your comfort zone.  That safe and overly repetitive process we call our daily routine is in-fact our comfort zone.  Taking a chance, risking embarrassment, or potential failure takes a great act of courage.  Although, not unlike stepping into the boxing ring, these challenges are worth taking if you desire to stretch your potential to the max.

What do you really have to lose?  Well that’s a loaded question.  Your comfort zone is likely tied intimately to the people, places, objects, and habits that are familiar to you.  For some, this can be a good thing.  If your surroundings are helping you achieve your goals, you might have a valid support structure.  However, too often, it is the very comfort zone we have established that has failed to serve our most primal needs.

Bad habits and bad associations can be broken.  True change begins when one’s behavior and thoughts are aligned.  The first challenge is to get into the ring, facing down your enemy.

The best advice I can give you to prepare for this battle: backwards plan.  Here are four easy steps:

  1. Establish your end state goal.
  2. Determine the logical steps one must take to achieve this end.
  3. Lay out reasonable benchmarks for reaching each of these essential progressions.
  4. Finally, stick to it.

Do no back-up.  Consistency is key.  Find ways to reinforce these new positive behaviors and be accountable to the support structure you have in place.

This is not easy stuff.  Much like the boxing ring, you can get knocked down. And getting knocked down hurts.  Sometimes it even leaves scars.  As retired Army General Stanley McCrystal challenged, if you consider yourself a leader, the people you have counted on will you help you out.  Most importantly. if you’re a leader, the people that count on you, need you on your feet.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. [Bruce Lee]

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Living Single Part 2: Seeking Solace in Solitude

Living Single is a 4-part series outlining my encounters and revelations as a newly-single, aspiring Renaissance Nerd.  If you missed the first post, check it out by clicking here.

Single Living is a dark, scary place.

For extroverts, solitude can be terrifying.  We are a needy bunch, often relying on the company and approval of others for personal fulfillment (ask me how I know).  Alternatively, introverts may savor alone-time, but fail to utilize the opportunity for reflection and self-improvement, often finding themselves squandering months or years of their lives in a lateral pattern.

A common intersection between both personality types is our collective struggle to take advantage of isolation as an opportunity for reflection and enhancement. The path to loving oneself requires utilization of this valuable time to identify personal flaws, set life goals, and address general areas of personal development that are essential to being comfortable in your own skin.  Six months ago:

I hated being alone.  

I hated being newly single in my early 30’s.

Most of my closest friends were chugging along on Breeder Boulevard (Breeder: my pejorative term for those choosing to live the “normal” life and settling down, getting married, and procreating), and I no longer had the luxury of leaning on others to fill every free moment of my time. I had reached a fork in my road, and was faced with the decision to simply skim along life’s waters, or to carve an entirely new path, exploiting my free time to focus on cultivating my inner Renaissance Nerd.  

Below are five essential principles that I have discovered during my “alone-time”:

  1. Work Your Ass Off

My apologies Tim Ferriss, but the 4-Hour Workweek just isn’t for me (quite yet…).  Working your ass off provides a plethora of benefits to goal-oriented singles. Focusing on your work not only fills time in your day, but has the added benefit of career enhancement, sense of accomplishment, and MAKING MONEY, which is an essential factor to a successful life.  The key to managing this goal is that you work hard while maintaining a healthy work/life balance during your journey.  Additionally, making money is KEY, but keep it in perspective and don’t let the Green own you…. Remember that whole thing about stuffing a camel through the eye of a needle? (that was a Bible reference heathens…)

  1. Stop Being a Fatso
sp

Typical Wal~Mart

Holy f*ck.  Body Shaming Alert. Someone call the PC Police.

Listen – I’m a big dude.  

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life.  If you are able to live a happy life with a spare tire around your midsection, more power to you.  However, if most of us are honest with ourselves, losing weight must be among our highest priorities in seeking positive physical and mental health.  We are a culture of fatsos, sheltered by social media warriors and political correctness.  Hit the brakes, remove the Twinkie from your gullet, and start working on a plan to address the elephant in the room. Being in shape feels good, looks good, and is more attractive to the opposite sex.  Oh, and as a bonus, you will actually live longer!

  1. Dump The Drinks

Here’s a factoid:  alcohol (in volume) is a DEPRESSANT… as in, it DEPRESSES you.  

Sure, it feels good to drink away your sorrows, opens up your vibrant personality, etc… But overall, it is unhealthy and contains all kinds of calories that you do not need right now while focusing on your physical and mental health.  

Looking for a compromise?  

Contain your drinking to once per week, typically Friday or Saturday night.  Try it out.  You can do it.  I’m willing to bet that after a few months, you will thank me for the pointer.  Freeing yourself from booze is rewarding, and will help you to focus on accomplishing your goals on a much more rapid trajectory.  I promise.

  1. Stop Giving a Shit What People Think

This concept is more challenging for some than others.  For me, this step (more like “leap”) was huge factor in my personal growth.  Just. Be. You.  

To aid with this exercise, pick up a copy of “Code of the Extraordinary Mind” by Vishen Lakhiani.  In this New York Times Bestseller, the author discusses “Brules” (Bullshit Rules) of life, and how to free oneself from falling into a pattern of complacency and conforming to the norm.  

There is only one “you”, and nobody knows “you” better than YOU.  Stop being a vanilla pile of mush.

Just. Be. You. 

  1. Stop Playing in the Dark

6 months in to this exercise and I have learned to love and cherish “alone-time”.

There will be lows.  There will be highs.

But… Stay the course, you’ve got this!

Work on a strategy that utilizes your moments of solitude for reflection and personal advancement, and implement the strategy to improve your life.  You do not (I repeat DO NOT) need anyone else in your life to “complete you”.  Only when you are capable of total fulfillment on your own should you consider bringing someone else into your crazy life. Chill out on dating and focus on you.

fun

F*ck.  Yes.

Our time here is short.  Stop playing (with yourself) in the dark.  There is a giant world around you waiting to be conquered.  Soak up some books.  Listen to music which inspires you.  Step out of your comfort zone and try new and exciting things. Live out the life of a “Renaissance” man/woman.  

Continuously set new goals and chase them CONSTANTLY.

Once you find the light, others will find you…

When you think all is forsaken
Listen to me now (all is not forsaken)
You need never feel broken again
Sometimes darkness can show you the light

Next in our 4 part series of Living Single – Getting Your Shit Straight.  

Stay tuned!

 

Cheers,

Rick