Monday, September 29, 2014

Dis-Comfort Zone Exit Strategy - Let Go!

You've heard the story about the frog in warm water versus boiling water, right?

What about the story of the frog hanging onto the edge of an alligator's mouth?! Okay - that's a new one.
Do you think this frog is aware of the danger of hanging out on the edge of the alligator's mouth? I suppose it depends on the frog's perception about what's in the water below and how afraid it is to move.
This to me is what's known as a "dis-comfort zone" - where it's too painful to move forward and it's excruciating to move backward. This little guy is just stuck.

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Comfort of the "Dis-Comfort Zone"

Getting out of one's "dis-comfort zone" can be uncomfortable at best and down right terrifying at worst. When the pain of hanging on outweighs the pain of letting go, typically we let go, right? Sometimes we would rather stay in terrible situations before we risk the unknown.
So what do you suppose it takes to get unstuck?

To get out of an old situation or pattern requires the creation or insertion of something new - a new habit, a new situation, a new location, a new perception. Phillipa Lally et. al. (2010) performed a systematic study of how new habits form in the real world.
Researchers found that it takes on average 66 days to create a new habit - ranging from 18 to 254 days until the new habit becomes 95% automatic. For some people new habits form quickly. For others not so much.
Three stages - if repeated over and over - will install a new habit:

  • Que (Trigger) - a que or trigger may be a goal, a lesson, or a "dis-comfort zone" which prompts one to take action

  • Behavior - a range of actions in response to a situation or stimulus which alters one's interaction with the external environment

  • Reward - something special given to oneself or to others in recognition of worthy behavior


What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.

Dr. Maya Angelou
Navigating change bring up lots of emotions that have to be dealt with. The familiar Kubler-Ross change curve still works even though it's been modified over time. Take notice of the stages but don't dwell too long on any of them except perhaps acceptance and integration.

Dis-Comfort Zone Exit Strategy - Let Go!

I suppose the frog's instincts will tell it to let go and try again. At least if it gets back in the water there's a chance that it can swim fast enough to get away from the alligator and dodge any other dangers. There's at least a chance...
However, if the frog continues to hang on it will certainly get eaten alive. When my proverbial alligators have me hanging on, my instincts tell me to Let Go! and do the following:

(1) DECIDE ON A NEW DIRECTION - determine what's necessary to get from here to there as quickly as possible. Remind yourself that there will be stages of change and varying emotions along the way but the next stage is over there not right here.

(2) LEARN SOMETHING NEW - a lack of competence or information about anything new can lead to extreme discomfort especially if a change is unwanted or forced. Break through by learning something new about the new area.

(3) CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION - trying to hang on to an old way when it's clear that something new is already in its place doesn't help. Give yourself room to grow and time to develop new habits, but by all means change your perception and direction as quickly as possible.

(4) CREATE NEW HABITS - accelerate change by looking ahead and planning next steps. Set yourself up for success in the new area by defining new empowering behaviors. Reward yourself for making progress along the way. A cup of spiced coffee works for me.

(5) MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS - are you there yet? Take notice of the small steps and keep your eyes on the prize. Remember that the next stage is over there not right here. Continue to measure progress until you're there.

If you're in the mouth of an alligator, let go and think fast!...

What are some steps you'd recommend for navigating "dis-comfort zones?" Add your comments below.
Check out some of my other articles as well:

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