- Are things just soooo crazy right now, you can barely get through the day, let alone think about your long term goals?
- Do you recognise that things are going well, but that you’re slipping in and out of panic as your limits are being stretched?
- Would you like to know how to handle a comfort zone stretch?
I’ve written before about how elated and unstoppable we can feel when we make it through a comfort zone stretch, but what about when you’re slap bang in the middle of one?
It isn’t much fun.
At the moment, I’m coaching a couple of people who are going through big comfort zone stretches. Their careers are soaring, they’ve grabbed some big opportunities and everything (from the outside at least) is going brilliantly.
But on the inside, they’re struggling. They’re working to manage thoughts about failure and not being good enough, and feelings of overwhelm and fear. They’re doing pretty well with managing these unwanted thoughts and feelings, but they’re not able to manage them 100% of the time, so they’re also experiencing periods of crippling self-doubt.
Studies suggest that a certain amount of pressure is good for us, but when the pressure builds—and crucially, we doubt that we can pull it off—that turns to stress, which isn’t good for anyone.
When the pressure is on, we have obvious ways of responding: get up earlier, work harder and longer, go to bed later, catch up on work at the weekends. But this isn’t sustainable long term. When we’re faced with a big comfort zone stretch, we can’t keep doing things the way we used to. We have to find new ways of responding, or we risk damaging our career, health, happiness and relationships.
If you’re pushed to the point of breaking, what are your options? Just brainstorm. Record everything that comes to mind (honour your learning style: write a list, draw a picture, record yourself speaking aloud…) and don’t judge anything as impossible at this stage. Here are some my clients came up with:
Escalate: ask for help from seniors
Delegate: get help from subordinates
Meditate: take more breaks to centre myself
Abdicate: drop a few balls and notice what happens
Plan: take one week at a time and map out what needs to happen
Stay present: confine email checking to set times of the day and work on just one thing at a time
Set boundaries: be ruthless about interruptions (make it clear to your team when you’re available and when you’re not—and set guidelines about what might constitute special circumstances when these rules should be broken)
Ease up on control: establish the areas where you really need control and leave the rest to others
Get some perspective: maybe your client / boss / team / mentor sees this differently—from their perspective, how are things different?
Prioritise self care: take the night off, go to a movie, leave on time for yoga class, get a massage…
What are yours? Which of these most appeals? Which can you implement right now? Notice your results and tweak.
And remember: this too shall pass.