Connecting the Dots
Remember playing the kids paper game where you would connect the dots on a piece of paper to create an image? At first you couldn’t make out the image and were just following the number sequence step by step and dot by dot until the collection of connections brought about a picture. Viola! The action of moving from spot to spot, sometimes in blind faith, eventually would result in the discovery of something wonderful.
Life can feel like that. We look ahead and can’t see the future designed for us until we go about the sometimes painstaking task of connecting the dots. Life Coach Beth Montpas describes it this way, “When we step to the edge of our own personal circle, it’s no surprise that we can’t see what’s beyond it. It’s not until we stretch that circle outward that we are able to see the bigger picture.”
Walking to the edge of anything is scary and often difficult to do. My sister-in-law was like that when she visited the Grand Canyon. She couldn’t help it. Just approaching the edge of any cliff, large or small, made her legs turn to jelly and her knees ache. But she didn’t just feel it when she approached the edge, she felt it when anyone would come too close to the edge.
It’s no wonder people often have visceral reactions to pushing out (or being pushed out) of their comfort zone. The circle is safe and cozy. In our comfort zone we don’t fail, and we don’t get challenged. We justify staying in our circle, because it’s been working fine so far. Our comfort zone may be a beautiful place, but nothing grows there.
In order to see the bigger, more beautiful picture of your life, you have to ask these three questions:
Where’s the edge of your circle?
You might have been in your circle of comfort so long you don’t even recognize the edge. But just know that if you’re growing, you’re always going to be outside of your comfort zone. Heck, even a turtle only makes progress when it sticks its neck out. Pay attention to what you’ve always done, then change it, and then assess how you feel. If that makes you nervous, then you’re probably getting close to the edge of your circle.
How can you move beyond your circle?
Eleanor Roosevelt said to do one thing every day that scares you. What scares you? If it scares you, it’s probably the perfect challenge to help you stretch that circle of comfort. If it doesn’t scare you, then it’s not challenging enough.
What are the dots you need to connect in your life?
First determine what the dots represent in your life. Are they your passions (cooking, travel, mission work, health, reading, etc.)? Are they people in your sphere of influence (family, friends, community, etc.)? Are they your core values (peace, strength, health, etc.)? Then arrange those passions, spheres of influence, and values together in a way that feels in balance to you. Then measure whether your Financial, Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Family, Social, and Career “dots” are working in harmony or not.
Some of these dots are where our comfort zone lives, and some are way outside! Choose the areas of your life that are deeply inside your comfort zone, and step out. Go out to the edge, and look over. Push past those scary feelings, and try something new.
If just the thought of doing this alone is daunting, then find a partner to do it with you. Give them permission to challenge you to stretch yourself further than you would on your own. The more you step out of your circle of comfort and onto the next dot in your sequence, the more beautiful the image will be that you will uncover for yourself in the end.