Starting from where you have the most impact—your self— is central to being in good working order and has the most effect on your external world and environment. Your internal world is the place of most influence, it is also the richest place for you to access the resources you need.
So, I invite you to sit quietly for a moment and vision the best version of your self that you aspire to be in the future (end goal). You are the author and designer of your own life..
Progression towards an end goal is what enhances wellbeing, rather than just attainment of the goal. Imagining a future self, of how you might be and what you might say, allows you to creatively expand your vision of who you are. With an openness and commitment to change, anything is possible.
Some questions to ponder are:
What would your future self look like? What would you be doing? How would you be feeling? Where would you be going? How would you be communicating? Where would you be working and living?
But, do you feel a confusing inner tug of resistance as you try to imagine this? This can be a surprisingly difficult exercise to do. For example, you have many filters in which you view yourself; such as internal self-talk that criticises (who do you think you are?), wishful thinking and external factors such as people and culture that dictates how you should be, act and feel.
You can get caught up in what Brene Brown describes as a scarcity mindset; that you don’t have enough exercise, work, money, power, free time; that you are not thin enough, smart enough, pretty enough, confident enough, loud enough, educated or successful enough; a constant lack of something which leads to yearning for you to be and have more. This can conflict with what you really need for inner confidence and wellbeing.
What if you adopted the stance that you are ‘just enough’ already—right here in the present moment— and then make an intentional choice of the way your ideal future self can be? The better version of a future self that is already ‘just enough’ right now, is far more empowering than scarcity and lacking.
The visualization exercise suddenly starts to get easier.
What is also worth considering is that research shows that the best goals for long-term wellbeing and self-esteem are ‘being’ goals rather than ‘having’ goals. An example of ‘being’ goals is self-acceptance; an example of ‘doing’ goals are status and money. But, as a caveat, if you are mostly motivated by ‘having’ goals and value them highly (attractiveness, wealth) then your satisfaction is temporarily improved; but it does not last as you accustom to the resources very quickly with the adoption of a scarcity mindset. So finding some extra ‘being’ goals is a good thing.
Commitment to clear and motivating goals is crucial, and high commitment is attained when the goal is perceived as being attainable and important, or when you have control on determining the outcomes.
Is this goal really you? Is this really how you want to be? The more you believe in the goal and your ability to achieve the goal then the greater effort you will place on achieving it, so the increased likelihood of success.
Goals are linked with challenge, when challenge matches your skill level or just a little stretch beyond what you are used to, you can enter into the wonderful psychological domain of flow. Briefly, flow is the total absorption in the task that leads to an engaged life and enhanced positive emotions.
The tricky bit is to identify the enduring and authentic value-driven goals from the transitory or superficial whims or yearnings.There is a need to distinguish between goals that are your own interests from goals that represent the interests of our culture and others (such as the shoulds and oughts), and re-framing goals to fit with your values.
What do you value most? Do you know what you value? Have you given this much thought?
How much balance do you want with work, play and relationships, for example?
You ebb and flow with life and your needs and preferences change with time, but your values tend to stay pretty constant. The more you know your self, the more comfortable you can be about who you are and the easier it becomes to honour and meet your own needs in life— a healthy individual assertiveness.
Spending time checking in on your values is a useful part of getting to know your self. It is only through understanding, respecting and loving yourself that you can give your best to others. Values are often working as stealth-like navigation tools in the background and a powerful force in your decision making; why not make acquaintances with them? What actions can, at times, feel completely irrational makes perfect sense when you unravel the threads of what you truely value. You cannot help but be attracted to what you think is important.
Perhaps try this simple values exercises here >> to help you.
Needs, and the strategies you adopt to meet them, vary over time. Some needs common across all age groups are: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom.
So, what needs do you have in life? What systems do you currently have in place to meet them? Now being clearer on your values, what actions could you put in place to satisfy your needs for your future best version of your self?
Now that you have a vision or a sense of your future best self, what about the bridge? The bridge that connects you from the ‘just enough’ to the ‘best version’.
Thinking about what to do best can lead to a feeling of tightness and heaviness in the pit of your stomach as overwhelm starts to wash over you— and a feeling of resistance creeps in. But, perhaps it’s just your comfort zone starting to communicate with you as it stretches and quivers a bit.
Comfort zone yoga
There is security in familiarity. It helps to keep you in check and manage your feelings of being overwhelmed. Comfort zones vary from person to person. You find safety in what you are accustomed to. New information and change takes energy.
It is easy to fall into the limited illusion trap of thinking that if you feel comfortable all the time, then you will be okay. Unfortunately, this is a false perspective. But here’s the thing….even when your comfort zone is no longer comfortable you can still feel resistance to move – comfortably uncomfortable because it is familiar. It’s complicated I know!
No matter how carefully you construct your world, you will always encounter obstacles, challenges, unpleasant feelings, and you need to be able to deal with them. It requires courage to take on and try new behaviours and temporarily tolerate the strange jittery feeling of not being you.
Be honest with yourself: an insulated life may protect you from unpleasent feelings, but is it limiting you from having experiences and meeting people. Stretching your comfort zone does help you bring the delights you never imagined or thought possible. But, outside the comfort zone and stretch is also the unknown which makes you feel nervous.
Stretching your comfort zone does not always result in a successful outcome, but helps you to build resilience, to overcome fears, boredom, depression, disappointment and rejection.
Yes, trying—and things working and not working—builds essential coping mechanisms. Discovering and learning from what does and does not work is actually part of a healthy and successful solution.
Keep trying and finding what does and does not work— like exercising a muscle or practicing comfort zone stretch yoga. To adopt the mindset ‘do it once, do it right’ or ‘give up’ retracts your comfort zone and erodes your sense of wellbeing (even if the short-term benefits seem easier on you; long-term it simply erodes you). Even when you are burning introvert fuel rapidly trying new behaviours, you are also gaining new ideas, relationships, and experiences—the world is an exciting place.
Of course, all this has to be contained within maintaining your natural tendency to be quiet. It’s a matter of balance and gentle nudges into the stretch—not breaking through your comfort zone resistance to take on behaviours that do not fit with the best version of your self.
Laser beam purposeful comfort zone stretches with good goal planning, rather than scattering willy-nilly with externally forced goals, is best. The edges of your comfort zones are fertile places for growth and expansion and the more you explore these edges the more you are able to develop.
So, what do you do?
Try and set yourself fresh challenges on a regular basis as these will take you out of your comfort zones. Moving into and through your discomfort will encourage you to reach deeper into yourself to uncover your innate strengths. The more you practice such behaviour, the more you flourish and grow and the more habitual will be your resilient response to life events, whether they are small irritations or major crises.
This is not easy, and I hope you find some nuggets of useful information in this blogpost. I am inviting you to connect and find out more about me here >> if you require further support on this as my passion and purpose is to help you work out the best way forward for you.
In the meantime, go forth and vision the best version of your self and then try some comfort zone stretch yoga!!!