What if you decided to just go for it? Do the thing that scares the heck out of you? Just imagine how one daring act might spice up your retirement!
In my retirement coaching practice, a common conversation I have with my clients involves encouraging them to release some of their doubts and fears and use their retirement years to press forward with something new and exciting. Perhaps tackle something that scares them just a little bit. I ask them to consider how their life might look and feel if it was lived just on the edge of their comfort zone.
Consider all of the potential opportunities you might explore in retirement. After all, if not now, then when?
The newly retired usually want to slow everything down and take some time to rest and recharge. They simply want to be happy. This “happiness” goal is often expressed as a desire to do things they haven’t had time to do before, accomplish something meaningful, or perhaps work their way through a bucket list. However, there is often a disconnect between what retirees declare and what they actually do. And surprisingly, the biggest obstacles to creating a desirable lifestyle are the limits people set for themselves.
Most of us would agree that the pursuit of a worthwhile goal is what makes life exciting, pleasurable, and worth living. But it’s not easy to make dramatic changes in your life. Conversely, it is more comfortable to keep doing all the same things because it is stress-free. This desire to keep things safe and simple is what keeps folks stuck in their own comfort zone.
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Your comfort zone is a place where the people you interact with and the activities you participate in are familiar and safe. You know what to do and you know how things will turn out. However, it’s highly likely that anytime your proudest accomplishments were achieved outside of your normal level of comfort.
Almost everyone has a unique comfort zone. They’re all different because each of us defines and tolerates risk differently. Whatever your comfort zone is, it is probably limiting you in some way. Stretching past your normal limits creates an enormous sense of achievement when you complete the challenge successfully.
So, what does this mean for retirees? It’s clear that retirees who step into their discomfort are the ones who will reap the biggest rewards in their retired life. Occasionally doing something that stretches your limits can alter your brain’s tolerance for change. There’s nothing like shaking things up a bit now and then to discover that a little bit of stress might just be worth it. Your comfort zone can be a place where you can relax and recharge. It should not become your permanent “happy place” where time passively slips away.
Neale Donald Walsch, author of the book series Conversations with God, said, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” He went on to say that “for the average person to rise above the average, a willingness to be a little scared or a little nervous or at least a little unsure is going to be required.”
Retirees who complain of boredom, or who feel they might be too old to try something new, let their fear of discomfort rob them of a world of opportunities. Since almost everyone experiences awkwardness and anxiety when attempting something for the first time, we must resist letting these feelings hold us back. Just because doing something new feels uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. When we actively avoid those feelings of anxiety and seek an effortless and uncomplicated existence, we miss out on opportunities to live our best life.
Furthermore, an added perk of pushing your limits is that the very act of learning new things keeps the brain sharp as you age.
Benefits Of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone:
- It’s a great way to build confidence — you learn what you are truly capable of.
- You learn new things. This not only feels great but each success further motivates you to continue expanding your comfort zone.
- You will have more fun! You might discover a new talent, hobby, or activity you love.
- The opportunities for building new relationships are endless. You might meet all sorts of new people that you wouldn’t have met in your comfort zone.
- You learn to enjoy being a beginner again. Learn to appreciate and celebrate your new learnings without judgment and the need to be perfect.
- You become a boundary pusher. You can’t grow without taking risks. Pushing your boundaries will set you on the path toward achieving your goals.
Tips For Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
What can you do that will make it easier to push aside your fear of failure and just take a crack at it?
My retirement coaching clients believe that visualizing success is helpful. A client who was an avid cyclist dreamed of riding his road bike in a peloton, rather than always by himself. His anxiety about crashing and failing to keep up with experienced riders prevented him from joining group rides. In coaching, we did some visualization activities where he imagined himself in the pack, riding seamlessly with the group. He started by imagining himself at the back of a small group on a short-distance ride. He moved on to visualizing himself in a larger group where he was keeping up and learning the skills required to ride with a group. Finally, he saw himself progressing to the peloton of his dreams and riding with confidence. When he actually joined a group, he felt ready and approached it with confidence and with a positive mindset.
Visualization is more than just sitting back and imagining good things will happen. It is cultivating the positive mindset and attitude that will keep you moving forward. Studies show that our thoughts can train the brain for actual performance. Creating a vision of yourself living a full and happy retirement helps you believe that it can and will happen.
Breaking Down Your Stretch Goals
In addition to visualizing success, my clients report that breaking their long-term goals into smaller pieces has been helpful. Taking small steps towards a larger goal builds confidence, and each step that is attained provides motivation to keep pushing forward. As with goal setting in any area of your life, chunking it down into manageable steps with realistic timelines makes the big goal much less daunting!
Accept Starting As A Beginner
Many clients have said that it is useful to acknowledge from the start that this might not be easy, so it’s worth leaving your ego behind. When you first try something new, chances are that you might not be very good at it. Don’t let those early days of the learning curve stop you! Everyone was a beginner at some point.
Ask For Help
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, seek out a mentor, or ask for advice. Consider expanding your network to include people who have knowledge about your goal — or who have it achieved it themselves. These people might be able to offer guidance and support that will keep you confident and ease your anxiety as you try new things.
Push Your Limits And Feel Alive
If you want to feel energized and alive in your retirement, start by pushing your limits just a little bit! Your willingness to do this can make or break your retirement years. A healthy dose of stress can be good for you. This is your learning zone, and it is here where the magic begins to happen. Remain positive, believe that you can succeed, and leave that growth-inhibiting comfort zone behind.
Take a risk! Get uncomfortable! Bust out of your comfort zone and live your best life in retirement.