The Key to Comfort

How's your comfort zone doing?

This morning I admitted to myself: 90% of what you're doing right now is brand new.  You've never done it before.  That's why it's taking so long.  And that's ok."

Permission granted to NOT move at warp speed. 

When was the last time you said to yourself "Absolutely everything is progress" (Thanks to Danielle LaPorte for that #truthbomb) and just kept working on something?

Sometimes, the key ingredient to your success is TIME.  In case you need a reminder that sometimes progress is so small it's virtually undetectable, I want to share with you one of my favorite experiences that being a creative dance teacher has gifted me.  

Here you go:

Week 1:  There is a little girl who seems suctioned to the edge of my classroom.  I invite her to be part of the circle with the rest of the class, where we're doing our warmups and getting to know each other but she shakes her head - an emphatic "NO!"  It's like she's trying to tell me "It's hard enough to just BE here."

Week 3:  My tiny dancer remains whole-heartedly uninterested in joining the group during any part of class.  But I peeked at her in the mirror and when we point and flex our feet, hers are going up and down along with the rest of the class.  

Week 6:  Participation is minimal, at best, and always happens on the sidelines but mom says a certain move & groover is playing dance class at home and seems to be regurgitating my lesson plans verbatim. 

Participation is not always an indicator of how much learning is happening.

Week 10:  Someone is dancing with the class!  Warmups, movement games, galloping and leaping across the floor are all solidly within this little one's comfort zone now.  But there's still room to grow.  When it's time to take turns during free dance, this one is not budging from her place along the wall.  

Week 12:  It's time for free dance.  Everyone is dancing together.  I call the class to the side of the room so each student can take a turn.  One by one each kid flies around the room, showing off moves.  I call out her name, expecting she'll shake her head no or shut down for a few minutes before she works up the nerve to participate again.  Instead,

she bursts forward, expressive and full of energy.  It's like she's forgotten that's she's afraid of this part of class.  

I have to bite my tongue to keep from cheering in excitement for this moment of courage, this victory of bravery, this burst of comfort zone expansion.  I don't want to spook her, so instead I bear witness to a beautiful moment of self-expression.  

12 weeks.  90 days.   3 months.

When was the last time you consistently put yourself in an environment that you knew would help you grow and gave yourself the time to edge your way further and further outside of your comfort zone?

Because as the quote goes 

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." 
~ Neal Donald Walsch

Here's the thing. 

Steps forward - no matter how small - are just that, steps forward.  

So write yourself a permission slip to move slowly, with self-compassion.  Imagine if that little girl's mom or I had, at any point, told her that her level of participation was not enough.  Do you think she would have wanted to come back?  

The key to expanding your comfort zone is TIME.  

Sprinkle in a little patience, action and bravery and you have a recipe for success.

If you have a goal in mind, then you can start.  You may not be ready yet to accomplish the goal.  That's ok.  The journey towards the goal often teaches you what you need to know to get there.  

So, do you have a goal you're ready to start?  Or a story to share about a goal where TIME made all the difference?  I want to hear about it!  Share it in the comments below.