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The secret to get out of a career rut

Recently, I was a guest on See Chicago (airing Sunday nights on WGN TV) for the “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone” episode. With my pal and show host Dawn Jackson Blatner, I took on the adventure of trying aerial yoga. If you haven’t heard of it, aerial yoga involves flying in silk fabric and performing yoga suspended up in the air. Sound challenging? It is! Especially trying it for the very first time if you’re not Spiderman or a trapeze artist.

The suggestion to “get out of your comfort zone,” is advice we hear often. But, do we really know why this is a good idea? This experience reminded me. And I wanted to share with you because it is so easy to forget! It’s easy to forget that this is a healthy practice because there are two major reasons why we typically don’t want to get out of our comfort zone.

They are:

1. It’s hard. By the very title: “get out of your comfort zone,” it’s obvious that we’ll experience discomfort. This means we can expect to feel the range of emotions falling on the less desirable side of the spectrum like: fear, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, and frustration. Not typically what we look forward to feeling.

2. We’ll resist. Because our brain doesn’t like like discomfort, and especially for those of us who are overachievers who hate being beginners and bad at something, we’ll want to react to the discomfort like whiny babies: crabby, critical, defeated, demanding, and maybe even snapping at people to dispel our negative emotions. This is not the best version of ourselves and we especially don’t want others in the world to see this side of us.

So with all this ick – there must be a profound reason to get out of our comfort zones, right? Well, here’s what I learned:

As much as I felt frustrated and whiny while I was terrible at aerial yoga in a room full of aerial yoga goddesses, the whole experience reminded me what it’s like to be at the very beginning of something. Anything new is messy. Always. And that is important to remember because we get so IN our comfort zones in life and work sometimes we get an aversion to messiness. And if this goes unchecked, out of fear, we’ll stop doing anything that seems chaotic or uncertain or adventurous. This is dangerous because chaos and uncertainty and adventure are necessary parts of the creative process. We can’t create anything new or interesting without these elements. Nope. We can’t. Not ever.

So, aversion to messiness is exactly why we get in a career rut where we will stay in the same old job even if it is boring, stay in a negative work environment even if it is literally making us sick, or to suppress any ideas for a new, more exciting career adventure. On the other hand, to practice getting out of our comfort zones helps us remember to stay fresh, innovative, creative, and able to take risks so that we can grow into who we are really meant to become. This is the absolute gold and why it’s worth venturing out of our comfort areas. And, the more we do it in small ways (like a new yoga class), the more we build confidence to take risks in our career that involve following the calls of our heart.

Action tip: If you're wanting to get out of a career rut, get started by askubg yourself: "what fun activity can I try as a way to get out of my comfort zone?"

Bonus tip: It helps with courage to get out of our comfort zones if we do it with loved ones, especially those who are fun and have a lot of heart and personality. Together is always better, and makes it much easier to remember to laugh and have a good time in the whole messy, chaotic process. Speaking of laughter, watch Dawn and I giggle our way through the aerial yoga class in the “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone” episode on See Chicago. WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE (3 minutes)!

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