Comfort Zone Elasticity

I’ve never been big on setting goals, at least not formally. Not that I don’t have things I want to accomplish. It’s just that I have this dipped-in-cheese memory of a Dale Carnegie course from eons ago, where we were assured that the only goals worth having were S.M.A.R.T. ones (which I remember as meaning: Sexy, Mellifluous, Acrylic, Radioactive, and Torpid).

Obviously, there are things I want and/or need to do. And yes, sometimes I write those things down so I don’t forget. Coincidentally, I did recently decide to formalize a set of goals in the non-cheesiest way I could muster. More on that in a later post.

There must always be a sense of progression or movement towards definite landmarks–Tobias Matthay, pianist

Anyhow, here is some stuff I already accomplished in 2012…

1- I discovered (the hard way) that I’m not terrified of heights. But I’m not overly fond of them either…especially on an empty stomach.

This realization happened on a tightrope, 24 feet above a hardwood floor in a University of Georgia gymnasium. Our company did a ropes course (sans a hearty lunch beforehand). There was no real danger of falling to my death, but it was challenging enough to make my knees week and turn my insides to goo. My forearms hurt for about a month but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Time to prepare: About 20 minutes.

2- I sang backup vocals, into an actual working microphone, in front of a few thousand people.

Without boring you with the whole neurotic childhood tale, I’ve always had hang-ups about singing. My vocal cords have these weird polyps growing on them, which means my voice sometimes crackles with residual puberty. Thus, crooning this five-note melody in public was way scarier to me than you might imagine. I don’t claim to have actually conquered that fear, but I did do a repeat performance weeks later, and that didn’t kill me either.

Time to prepare: About three weeks.

3- I do not, however, have any hang-ups about playing other stringed instruments. One conversation led to another and I ended up trading one of my guitars for a pretty nice banjo, spending a week learning how to play exactly one song, then stood in front of a sizable crowd and actually played the thing. My performance was far from brilliant. But a young man did approach me afterward and ask if I’d give him banjo lessons! (Trust me, that’s actually way funnier that it sounds.)

Time to prepare: Roughly two weeks.

Please note, I’m not boasting here. None of the above is really brag-worthy—trust me, I was there. So please don’t take it that way. But all of it forced me up and out of my comfort zone without a lot of time to prepare and evaluate and write it all down. I’m not nineteen and fearless any more. I’m wont’ be attempting stand-up comedy or skydiving naked (the only real way to skydive!) anytime soon. But I can still do some stuff. And you can too.

And some of those things may require deciding to leap before you look.

So what about you? Been forced to out of your comfort zone lately?