The fact is that our comfort zones really aren’t all that comfortable most of the time, are they?
That’s because they work similarly to the way a thermostat works on an air conditioner. If you want the temperature in your room to be 75° and you set the thermostat to 75°, the air conditioner will cool the room to 73° (colder than you like to feel comfortable) and then shut off. It will allow the room then to warm up to 77° (warmer than you like to feel comfortable) and then turn on again. Surely you have been in a room that suddenly began to feel a little cold, and just about the time you thought about putting on more clothes, the air conditioner shut off—and about the time you started to fan yourself, the air conditioner kicked in again. The end result is that more of the time in your air-conditioned environment you are slightly uncomfortable than comfortable.
Our personal comfort zones suffer the same fate. On one end, we sense that life may be getting a little risky; on the other end, a little boring. Between those two points we experience short periods of temporary comfort.
So if within our comfort zones life is constantly changing and we’re always reacting, consciously or sub-consciously to those changes, why do we use the word “comfort” to describe them? Because it would make considerably more sense if we would simply accept the fact that change is the only norm we ever experience and that most of the time, change is going to feel uncomfortable.
What if we admitted that there are no “permanent” solutions to anything?
According to Dr. Price Pritchett, President of Pritchett and Associates, a company that specializes in the study of organizational change, we would save ourselves a lot of pain in this life if we would understand one simple thing: There are no permanent solutions … to anything.
In fact, we could actually remove the word “permanent” from the dictionary and save ourselves a rash of useless expectations.
What if we just stopped resisting change, even if we’re not convinced we have good reasons?
I remember seeing an interview on television years ago. Johnny Carson was interviewing the late Carl Sagan, an American astronomer, who was expounding on the possibilities that other civilizations exist on other planets and that all we need to do is find out where they are.
“I, for one,” said Carson, “do not want to discover that there is another group of living beings somewhere out in the universe.”
“Why on earth not?” asked Sagan with an incredulous tone in his voice.
“Because,” said Carson, “I’m afraid I might wind up as somebody’s pet!”
What if instead, we could embrace change as the forerunner of better opportunities?
Nathaniel lost his job. He was told by his employer one day that he wouldn’t be needed anymore. Not only was Nathaniel in shock, but he was afraid of what the news would do to his wife, but she wasn’t at all upset about it.
“Good,” she said. “Now you can write your book.”
“What do you think we will live on while I do that?” he asked.
His wife got out her bankbook and showed him a very good balance.
“Where did you get this money?” he asked.
“Nathaniel, I have always known that you are a great writer and that one day God would give you an opportunity to write. So each week when you gave me my household money, I put some of it into this savings account. We have enough now to last us at least a full year.”
“But we should save that money,” he said.
“I’ve already saved it once,” she replied. “God helped me to save it so that you could do what God intended you to do. Do you want to disappoint God?”
“No,” said Nathaniel Hawthorne.
He then went on to write The Scarlet Letter, followed by many other books that today are called classics. How much would we all have lost if he had resisted his wife’s urging to embrace change as an opportunity to express his talent?
What if we began to treat ourselves more kindly during our inevitably changing lifetimes?
According to the experts, it is all right to give ourselves time to adapt to change. Price Pritchett says, “Try easier.” Acknowledge the change. Honor the past; allow yourself some closure. Assess your situation not out of panic, but out of reason. And then step out with confidence and a positive expectation about the next step on your life’s amazing journey.
Side Bar – Dr. Pritchett has written a number of books to help business owners and managers handle change and to coach their employees to embrace change more easily. One of the most interesting is “Business as UnUsual”.
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