Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts

And yes — I spelled that right!  At least for the title of the book by Peter McWilliams (1994, Mary Press).

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but every once in a while there is something that pushes me when I need a push. Sometimes it’s a responsibility or an obligation, sometimes it’s a person or pet or a student or a neighbor.  Quite often, it’s something I read in a book that I connect with and say “Yes — that’s just what I need to get going!”.

This book is about achieving your dream, and recognizing the things that get in the way.  It’s filled with quotes (I love that) and “the time is now” encouragement.

At 487 pages long, and even considering that about half the book is quotes, it’s full of lots of useful and encouraging information.  What spoke to me today (okay, actually last week, and since then I’ve been devouring the info and not posting . . .) is:

“Fear is the energy to do your best in a new situation” p. 89

In terms of change and transformation, it seems when everything is humming along smoothly, most people think they’ve “made it” or they’re where they should be. But once I get to a place where everything is humming along, that’s when the floor gives way. Again.

That comfortable feeling when everything is humming is appropriately called “the comfort zone”.  I don’t know who coined that, or when, or where, but it’s been a very useful term for me.  A couple years ago we encouraged students to step out of their comfort zone to make new friends, or do the right thing to build community at school.

Because I spent so much time encouraging students to do that, I started thinking of it in terms of my own life.  When you’ve been through lots of change in a short amount of time, the comfort zone is comfortable, kind a like getting cozy on a couch. But how much can you do with a pleasure book in one hand, a cup of tea balanced on your lap and an afghan around your shoulders?

I’m not saying that moments of pleasure aren’t important, because they are.  It’s just that life was meant to be a learning experience, and the more you surround yourself with coziness, the less you’re going to want to step out of it.

Many don’t want to step out of their comfort zone because of fear.  It doesn’t feel good when you step out, and the body registers the not-good feeling, and so we withdraw back into safety. And get nowhere.

Thinking of fear as a good thing, as something that we are going to feel and it’s okay, and that we can look at in a different way is an invaluable kernel of wisdom.

McWilliams encourages us to use fear to become more alert and aware, and use the extra adrenalin-stimulated energy to focus and do our best in a new situation.

Doesn’t that make sense?  The bonus is that the more frequently you harness fear in this way, the easier it becomes. So try something that takes you out of your comfort zone today.  I’m not saying you have to skydive, just one step out of the zone.  In fact, think of one thing you can do every day that would take you out, and become proficient at harnessing fear.

Then — there will be at least one less thing to be fearful of.

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