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Yesterday’s news: ‘Fear plunged to its death today.’

By Sue Ellen Haning
Columnist

Hallelujah, fear is gone!

Now we can move forward. As American writer, lecturer and developer of self-improvement courses Dale Carnegie said, “You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.”

So, ll who are experiencing nut-like behavior please continue. Yes, yes, yes, who knows, at some point in time Pagosa Springs may have to change the welcome sign. I can see it now: “Welcome to Nutsville” or “Welcome, Your Life Will Never Be the Same” or “Drive carefully through Successful Nutland.”

All it takes is a single step outside your comfort zone to experience one of the many benefits such action promises; action being the operative word. Are you a general in the army and want to learn to knit? A CEO who wants to volunteer in the preemie unit rocking fragile babies? A hall-of-famer who wishes to become a natural healer? Maybe you would like to develop leadership qualities in some aspect of your day. Could you do with a little more confidence when around those in authority like … your inlaws? Whatever your dream, dreaming is encouraged any and every hour of the day. Dreaming is delicious behavior, but it is those tiny steps of action that pave the way. Don’t wait for a special occasion to gift yourself. Every day is an event when you are successful nut.

“Be the Change” comes to mind, as I see this on a bumpersticker on many cars. When you challenge your comfort zone, you will morph in tiny increments. When you make a change, no matter how small, even in thought, everyone around you is affected. In fact, you have no idea how far the ripples of your change reach: China maybe, future generations, at least.

Be patient with yourself, a successful nut wasn’t built in a day.

The atmosphere surrounding your comfort zone bulges with gifts. When you decide to challenge your CZ, prepare yourself because you become heir to one or more of the gifts: confidence, courage, spontaneity, surprise, fun, anticipation and adventure, to name a few.

My personal experience dangling outside my comfort zone for three months in Italy was a crash course, but do not worry, you will transform in quite a comfortable way, I promise. Your transformation conforms to your own timeline and cannot be compared to another’s. Take it easy on yourself, but maintain the forward momentum. I would love to know what your comfort zone challenges are. Could the challenge be wearing pink when you have red hair or wearing red with your pink hair? Moving to the beach? Taking the next career step? Changing religions?

In the past, my greatest day to day fear was being alone. Edgy thoughts seized me in a monstrous grip. Visions of having a heart attack or asthma attack with no one around to help me kept me inside my pencil dot of a comfort zone. I was indeed a slave to my fears. I was terrified of the dark.

When I look back on my life before those three months in Italy, I can hardly believe it. Now, when I step outside my comfort zone, I don’t sweat behind the ears or between the eyes or tremble or have to run to the bathroom. I do still feel butterflies in my gut, but without some sensation I would not know I’m stretching. Those butterflies remind me something great is about to happen.

Let’s address the overachievers among us who may think we are moving along much too slowly. Do you often experience burnout in some form? Do you get up in the morning already thinking there simply are not enough hours in the day? Does your imagination run away with you? Do you think you have a comfort zone? Do you panic when you near the completion mark of your current world-changing endeavor? Have you tried to pare down the activities you take part in or the projects you have begun but you can’t because you want it all?

Take a deep breath. Your comfort zone is likely quite small, even though you accomplish much. Your mesmerizing activities may fall into the category of what is comfortable and controllable for you. Does thinking about taking a hobby zip you across the comfort zone boundary? What? You don’t have time for a hobby? Are you too busy anticipating, planning, expecting and wanting the next project to ever pat yourself on the back for what you accomplish? Do you experience utterly confusing thoughts or emotions running rampant in your over-stimulated mind? It could be that saying “no” takes you outside your comfort zone. When you can do it all, what is one more project, right?

When we discuss getting outside the precious CZ, it can be in concept, thought or even emotion. It doesn’t have to be jumping out of an airplane or moving to another continent. Overachievers, have you ever celebrated your accomplishments? Does this thought cross the line, taking you outside your zone? Celebrate just one of your accomplishments this week. Invite a friend(s) to join you. Include those who may have had a part in your achievement.

I applaud all who are making efforts to step outside their comfort zones. This week, stretch yourself a little further than you have so far. What is the next step to the edge of your CZ or that takes you toward your goal? Each step outside your comfort zone creates a new boundary. Once you feel comfortable there, stretch yourself a little further, and stay until the feeling changes. If you are beginning to think this is easy, pat yourself on the back. The changes you have made are huge. If you dare, choose another item on your list to challenge one step at a time.

Change creates opportunity, so be prepared. You won’t believe what will come your way. Since my Italian experience, I’ve tackled new endeavors that were not on my radar before, and you will, too. This week the steps you take outside your CZ, are you changing the world. No IPO ever had this much return. Next week: All hell breaks loose.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” — Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman.

This story was posted on February 21, 2013.