Renovating Growth – Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

Renovating Growth – Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Neale Donald Walsch

We have recently renovated our kitchen, well mostly.  It is now functional, we are almost at the finish line, but there are minor time-consuming items that must be addressed to finalize the project. We have waited twenty years to do this project.  We thought we would have done it sooner, but life got in the way.  As we were emptying cabinets, ordering supplies and fixtures, making countless decisions on what kind of cabinet, countertop, lighting, etc. we wanted, I made myself a promise that I would do my best to enjoy the process.  This was a big dream that we had been waiting to accomplish for many years, I wanted to keep that top of mind.

My first strategy was to notice the small and sometimes big changes along the way so we would recognize the forward momentum because the project was a marathon not a sprint.  We took photos daily to remember all the work we had done the previous day(s).  I found this helpful.  Some days the difference was massive but as  the project continues, there are days when the changes are less dramatic.  Having the photos helped me to remember all the tasks that were completed.  There were so many small time-consuming tasks that were not impactful, but very necessary.  

Along the way I had to learn so many new skills. The pressure to complete the tasks well felt enormous.  We had spent so much time and money on building our dream kitchen. To maximize the number of cabinets, we chose custom cabinets, which took twelve weeks to be made and delivered, and we needed to assemble them ourselves. When the two pallets were delivered and we opened them, I was overwhelmed by the large “Jenga” puzzle before me.  My husband was away on business and my kids helped me move the cabinet “parts” into the house, so I had to take the lead.  There was no time to be overwhelmed.  I reminded myself that we could figure it out, if we took it one step at a time. 

Further into the project, with all the new skills I needed to learn along the way, I started to recognize my sensations of fear and insecurity, the lump in my throat, butterflies in my stomach, my inner critic riding shotgun saying “It’s amateur hour!”.  I would remind myself that “I AM an amateur”, and that’s okay.  Afterall, I just got a lesson from my husband, or I only watched a video on this and part of the process was blocked by the person’s head in the video!  The longer this went on, I realized when I made a mistake, my husband was able to correct my mistake or find a solution. I would learn how to do it differently the next time (or the time after that – some skills take practice). The quote  “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” kept ringing in my head.  As I kept challenging myself, I discovered that I can do more than I thought, once I got past the fear.

Over the years, I have learned that when I am working on a big project and feeling tired and frustrated, it is more beneficial to step away and come back with a fresh perspective, rather than pushing through and trying to force a breakthrough. This is not to say that I didn’t forget this nugget of wisdom during the process.  I recall a less than stellar moment, late at night when I wanted to finish a task before going to bed, the staple gun I was using kept jamming. I looked for another staple gun and it jammed.  Finding myself in the kitchen using expletives (not usually in my lexicon), I realized I was tired and pushing myself too hard, undoubtedly NOT enjoying the process.  I needed to accept failure as a temporary state, consider it a pause, and understand that when I am at the end of my energy and patience, it is time to take a break and come back rested with a better mindset.  Almost magically, when I tried the staple gun in the morning, I realized I loaded it wrong, so it only jammed once before I got it to work and finished the job. 

Two days before we needed to have all the lower cabinets installed ready for the countertop people to come in and measure, I realized that we needed help to meet the deadline and realistically we were not going to be able to complete everything without help.  I reached out for help from our son.  He came over after work and brought fresh uplifting energy.  The next day he and his girlfriend came back after work and helped us rally and meet our deadline.  I was uncomfortable asking for last minute help, but we really needed it and the story of love and support is forever stitched into my new kitchen making it even more special. 

I realized there is always a solution.  Sometimes we just have to be open to changing our perspective, to think outside the box of “This is the right way.” or “We can only do it one way.”.  The process was intense and challenging, but also empowering.  We are making it happen.  In order to achieve something big, we must be willing to challenge ourselves, get out of our comfort zone and embrace the fact we can do more when we accept that it may not go right the first time, but we can figure it out, if we persevere.  

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