3 things I learned from stretching my comfort zone

How does a trek to Iceland stretch your comfort zone?

Before I get into that, here’s why I signed up to do a trek across Iceland.

  1. To raise money for a charity – the Sunshine fund does such great work providing specialised equipment to children with disabilities in the North East of England, individuals, groups, registered organisations, special and mainstream schools and hospitals can ask for our support to improve the lives of children with disabilities. You can see some of the work they do here.
  2. To challenge and stretch myself out of my comfort zones.
  3. To get fit.

Three really simple things I was aiming for, what I actually got was much, much more than I expected.

Here is what the preparation and training gave me:

The training for the walk was fairly simple (or so it appeared anyway), go out and walk, sounds easy doesn’t it? Open the door and walk.

First questions, where to and how far?  That’s easy the office is 3.5 miles from home, so early days it was either a walk to the office or a walk home from the office.

Then I looked to extend – take the long way home 5 miles or so by meandering my way through the various streets, parks and fields on the way home.

But 5 miles isn’t enough.

Go big

Getting out and walking first thing in the morning I could do 6 miles (Mrs Tynemouth having found me a great circular route that takes me from my front door to home again covering 6 miles without walking alongside a road, that was great).

Go bigger again

On a weekend I started walking to the beach, oh how nice it is to walk from your front door to the coast then walk down miles of coastline. One weekend I walked to a friend’s house for a party. Not quite sure how I did it but walking 12 miles and arriving exactly at the pre-arranged 1.00 in the afternoon was pretty impressive. Another journey saw a similar distance with a friend and his dog (stopping at a few pubs along the way).

Are you setting your goals to stretch and develop you, or are you in your comfort zone?

I pushed myself and my biggest training walks ended up as three days back to back where I walked 20 miles on one day, 12 miles the next and the final day of 9 miles. This level of training was actually further in distance than we trekked in Iceland, my training and preparation over prepared me for my trek.

How many times in life and in business do we underprepare? Cut corners? Think “oh that will be enough”. I promised myself I would not be on my trek underprepared and I kept myself honest to this all the way through my training.

Now on my own training walks, I thought I would be listening to music or podcasts but in reality, here is what I did:

Nothing.

Just nothing at all.

I found myself some headspace to think and mull ideas (both business and personal) over in my head. Playing with complex problems and simple thoughts and allowing them to drift in and out of my thinking. I cannot stress how useful and beneficial this was, giving me clear headspace and helping me to become more productive at work, making decisions became easier and I gave myself that important thinking time.

Outside of this, I am a firm believer that out in the fresh air in the great outdoors walking along at a steady pace, all of the ideas in your head get bumped about and jostled around. As a result they fall in slightly different places, nestling up against other ideas and thoughts giving new ideas, perspectives and insights to some of the everyday problems we all face.

The 3 big things that came out of my training for the trek were:

  1. Set yourself stretching goals (ones that take you beyond your current capability and move you to a new place)
  2. Overprepare, make sure that what you are doing equips you fully to meet all of the demands of your upcoming task
  3. Get yourself some head space, allow yourself some quiet, thinking and reflective time (how many of us are short of that?)

So much more came out of my trek and I’ll share that in my next blog.

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