You may recall the children’s programme, Jackanory, where they would read stories and the starting point was to make sure you were sitting comfortably. Well I’m not about to read you a fairy story! I am going to use Goldilocks and the 3 bears to ask you whether you are sitting too comfortably or too uncomfortably in your life right now. Consider the impact on your current level of contentment and satisfaction.
Discomfort is a necessary part for your growth but too much or too little and you end up with the same feelings – burn out or rust out. You might need to slow down and do less or speed up and take action. This is where the Goldilocks formula comes in – not too much, not too little, just right.
So how do you know your “just right” amount? During my NLP accreditation, I came across Karl Rohnke’s comfort, stretch, panic model which can help you identify your “just right”. The comfort zone is the realm of predictability. It’s where we tend to operate on autopilot. It is a great place to rest and rebuild, but overstay your welcome here and your world begins to rust. The stretch zone is the zone of variety, new experiences and adventure. It’s where you learn and grow – mentally, physically and emotionally. How do you know you are in it? Well, the heart rate is up and you can imagine yourself doing it and enjoying it. It’s good to spend time here to build your skills and overcome your fears which ultimately grows your confidence. Finally, the panic zone, this is the realm of too much stress, distress. You can’t think straight and are gripped with overwhelming terror and heading towards burn-out. You can get pushed or nudged into your panic zone which does not feel good. Others deliberately put themselves there as they thrive living on the edge. Having the choice is very different to being forced in there.
There is no good, bad, right or wrong. One person’s panic is another’s comfort. Speaking up in a meeting could set a person into panic while another would not even think twice about it. For some of you being busy could be comfortable while learning to relax and reflect could ironically be the stretch. It really is a very personal and dynamic thing. The key is to challenge yourself, choose to try new things to stretch yourself personally and professionally. Try asking yourself these questions to help you find your “just right” to increase your fulfilment levels
Where are you on the comfort continuum in your life right now and is this where you want to be? We all need some time in our comfort zone to rest, but are you recharging or heading towards rust out or burn out? What can you do to rebalance things?
I have spent the last 3 months setting stretch fitness goals to restore and rebuild myself back from illness. Just a few weeks ago, I managed a 15km hike in the mountains in Southern Spain. It was a lovely feeling of achievement and satisfaction. It was by no means a walk in the park, however, at Christmas if someone had suggested this it would have been firmly in my panic zone. Climbing a set of stairs was the stretch then!