“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I love it. I saw this line the other day announcing the launch of a new church in Ohio. It’s so true. Real living starts when we courageously step outside our familiar places of security and comfort. Not easy. Not by nature. Not usually by habit.
Most of us spend a whole lot of energy maintaining our personal comfort zones. We drift toward the routine, familiar and predictable. It happens in our careers and in our marriages. It happens in businesses, government agencies and religious organizations. It happens in our choice of hot beverages each morning at the local coffee shop. The route we take on our drive to work. What we order off the menu for lunch. Most of us glide toward a pattern of unoriginality.
How do you combat those tendencies? How do you embolden a holy discontent inside of you to get yourself to step outside of comfortable? I really would love to know what helps you to live with originality, creativity, freshness and vitality. (Feel free to share it in the comment section below!)
Here’s the top three things that have helped me the most and I hope it may help you too:
Get a God-sized Vision – From the very start of your life, Psalm 139:16 describes God’s master plan for you this way: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God. How vast is the sum of them, the would outnumber the grains of sand…” (NIV). Think about it! All the stages of your life were known by God before you even lived one day outside your mother’s womb. God has a clear vision for how He has designed and created you. Are you spending any time building a relationship with God and learning to listen to Him so you actually know the vision he has for you? When your life is guided by a God-sized vision, you’ll attempt things that are uncomfortable. The reality is, if you’re not making decisions that require courage, you probably don’t have a compelling vision for your life nor are you trusting in God’s almighty power.
Write a Mission Statement – When you have a clear, memorable, quotable mission for your life, you will know why you do what you do and what you want to be remembered for. I meet so many people who’ve never taken the time or done the hard work of developing a personal mission statement. I’ve written on this before. My mission statement is simple: “inspiring transformissional living.” I can’t make someone change but I can inspire and influence them toward change. I can’t transform someone but I can motivate them to seek renovation of their heart, attitudes and actions through God’s help. I can inspire others toward being missional and intentional in their living and leadership. I even have a new related mission statement for my hobby: “inspiring transformissional living through the lens.” Before placing a photo on my photography website, I actually ask, “will this photo in some way inspire people toward a God-focused, transformed, intentional and purpose-filled life?” A focused mission statement protects me from the monotony of boring habits and purpose-less routines.
Routinely Try Something New – While I habitually drift toward the security of the routine, I intentionally push myself to try something fresh. I recently started choosing new menu items at a restaurant where I have a lunch meeting each week. I try to drive a new and different route when we go to visit our daughter in northeast Florida. We go to new vacation spots each year. I create new patterns each time I mow the lawn. My wife and I celebrate our birthdays every fifth year by hang gliding, skydiving, parasailing, white-water rafting or some other beyond-the-comfort-zone activity. Linda and I recently attended a Marriage Get-away to spark new patterns in our forty-year relationship. I use different translations and paraphrases of the Bible during my devotional reading to break from the familiar. These are just a few examples of things I consciously do to push myself beyond the routines of my comfort zone.
Without a doubt, I feel most alive when I’m living on the edge, beyond my comfort zone. When I’m living out a God-sized vision that I know will be a total flop if I do it in my own strength, it’s exhilarating. When I am tasting, seeing, hearing, touching and smelling something different, transformation happens inside of me. My life has been so enriched by risk-taking adventures with God. Knowing that I’m living out God’s purposes and calling for my life is the opposite of boring. That’s real life. Just as it was intended. I can’t imagine living life any other way!
So, where do you need to be courageous today? What is one thing you can do today to step outside of your comfort zone so you can really live?
QUESTION: Share your top three comfort-zone busters or the one area you are being challenged to step out of your comfort zone?