Familiar procedures and routines, tasks you could complete in your sleep and a reliable daily schedule with no surprises – that’s what the standard comfort zone looks like. We always talk about comfort zones when we’re looking to leave them. Thinking outside the box, taking the plunge, pushing your own boundaries – and then going a bit further still.
Leaving the golden cage
I found out what it means to leave my comfort zone at my last Company Sports event: a six-day canoeing event in idyllic Dalsland, Sweden.
Six days paddling through West Sweden’s varied countryside on its canals and lakes sounded very inviting. It didn’t immediately occur to me that this would entail six days of camping, without power or showers, and would involve dry toilets, sleeping in a tent and cooking over a camp fire. I really didn’t expect to be drinking unfiltered Swedish lake water either.
But what awaited me on this trip exactly? Whilst I was unsure of what to expect, I found myself leaving my comfort zone many times during these six eventful days and learned many new things in the process.
Saying yes to new challenges
Sometimes there is an opportunity for adventure, and the only thing holding you back is not saying yes. Looking back, I now know that saying yes to the adventure in Sweden was absolutely the right decision. Because saying yes and believing in yourself opens up new avenues, new perspectives, and new challenges.
Why less can sometimes be more
It very quickly became clear that doing without luxury goods and living the simple life – six days of swimming in the lake instead of showering and washing my hair, for example – would give me pause for thought.
When we’re caught up in the stress of everyday life, we only too often have our phones in our hands to respond to work emails and deadlines – thinking we always have to be reachable. And how often do we find ourselves looking down at our phones all the time as we cross the adidas Campus on the way from one meeting to the next?
The time in Sweden made me realize that, without constantly being available and without the fear of missing out (Instagram, Facebook, social media), a feeling of calm and serenity with less stress takes over.
A holiday from the networked world. Our thoughts revolved around the basic daily tasks of camping, such as pitching tents, chopping wood, etc., and left no room for non-essentials. We quickly realized this had a liberating effect, and instead of missing things we were happy! After all, what more could you want after a hard day of paddling a canoe than a refreshing swim in a cool lake?
Challenge and reward in equal measure
If we hadn’t left our comfort zone, we wouldn’t have realized that doing without our private luxury goods for a while could have such a positive effect. This also created opportunities for us to learn new things, such as how to bake bread over an open camp fire.
The combination of being surrounded by nature and having plenty of exercise can be the perfect remedy for stress, because if you can open yourself to the calmness of your surroundings, nature can become a counterbalance to the dynamic world of work.
It seems there is something about Swedish air that makes even the first breath of it reduce your worries and create an instant state of meditation.
It was particularly good to see how the entire group was prepared to embrace the adventure, becoming closer and closer due to the experiences we were sharing. Thanks to our time together in Sweden, we not only experienced unforgettable memories and impressions, but also forged new friendships.
Upon my return, my friends and office colleagues remarked how I seemed both euphoric and more relaxed. The six days in nature and the time out from our crazy world seemed to have brought back the balance in my life and rebooted my human computer.
Relaxed and recharged, I’m now impatiently awaiting my next life or work adventure!