Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
When I first read Robert Frost’s poem…The Road Not Taken, I was completing Senior studies…not as a seventeen year old but as a mother of two young children returning to study without any real definite plans for future education other than to pass High School English. When I read this poem… I felt the words spoke directly to me.
I felt as if they were challenging me personally — not to settle for the comfortable path I could easily take, not allow life become boring or staid…but to explore options on the road less traveled… with confidence & enthusiasm. Since then I’ve embraced this philosophy… going as far as hanging a poster with the words of my favourite quote by Neale Donald Walsh on a wall in my home as a reminder when I’m feeling fearful, that “Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone”.
It has taken work, but since then I’ve learnt there are three specific strategies that need to be chosen to get to a position where you feel confident constantly stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a permanent state of exploration and experimentation?
You may remember the hilarious 2008 Jim Carey comedy, The Yes Man.
In this movie Carey’s character Carl Allen, life, was at a standstill. He was depressed and saw No future… Until the day he enrols into a personal development program based on a very simple idea: say Yes to everything! Carl soon discovers with amazement the magical power of “Yes“, and sees his professional and romantic life turned upside down overnight: with an unexpected promotion and a new girlfriend.
Although as you would expect in this type of movie – not everything goes to plan but the premise of just saying Yes to everything created limitless opportunities and boundless joy he hadn’t experienced until he chose to explore the advantages of consciously deciding to step out of his comfort zone and not to worry about outcomes.
Carl discovered at first saying Yes was like any habit that needed to be practiced until it becomes instinctive – a response that had to be deliberately chosen. Instead of the usual thought of reasons why not – why he couldn’t – as is human nature, he automatically said Yes to everything instead. And he didn’t worry about the logistics or the consequences
As well as choosing Yes to become confident enough to journey the road less traveled, you must also seek out new experiences. Explore opportunities – and rather than waiting for life to come to you actively pursue activities that provide you with the chance to undertake something you may have never done before. Carl’s confidence was boosted when he learnt to fly a plane, play a guitar & even speak Korean.
Maybe for you it is to travel to a place that you have always wanted to visit that is off the beaten track for example Machu Pichu in the Andes. Maybe it is to take up a new hobby that will challenge you, like learning Spanish. Handy for your South America holiday. Maybe it is to learn the skills to become a top presenter and deliver a TED talk. Or it might be as simple as riding a roller coaster, or taking a yoga class.
Whatever it is for you, I encourage you to make a list of everything. Everything you have ever thought about doing. Don’t place judgement on what you think you can do. Don’t concern yourself with practical thoughts as to whether you have the ability – the money – or the time. Just write everything down, don’t judge, don’t consider, just write them down.
Now the third and most important next step to journey on the road less traveled is to take action. Start by choosing just one item on your list. Pick something and do it. Then do another…and another. Remember you are now saying Yes and are eager to give it a go. I promise you, like Carl Allen – you will quickly realise the results won’t have to be 100% successful for you to begin to diminish your fear of failure or fear of consequences
We can choose to “Play it safe” and find reasons why we can’t do something to allow our comfort zone shrink to eventually become a confinement of anxiety. Where our decisions are made from a place of fear. Or we can choose to take chances to expand our experiences and explore all possibilities life offers?
I have discovered by choosing Yes rather than looking for reasons why not…by exploring interesting opportunities that expand my experiences…and by choosing to act on those opportunities have proven to be fundamental in creating practices that have not only just afforded amazing, once in a lifetime experiences, but have created a life where I live by and large without fear and without unnecessary worry of what might happen.
Little did I realise when I read those words of Robert Frost nearly thirty years ago that they would have such a profound effect on the how I would experience the world from that moment on.
As Robert Frost affirmed …
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
What difference would it make in your life to Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone and explore the road less traveled?
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