Time Management #12: Are You Stuck in Your Comfort Zone?

Are you living a Level 10 life? If not you deserve an uplevel.

I’m from the Super Mario Brothers generation. I know that reveals my age, and that’s ok. The phrase level up always reminds me of times spent methodically moving towards Bowser, level after level. 

It’s too easy a metaphor, right?

That to win, we can’t stay in our comfort zones, playing the same level over and over. 

No matter how old you are, how much of a lost cause you think it is, it’s so vital to keep pushing, improving, and honing your skills. Otherwise, stagnation will just take all the joy away from you.

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Before we decide how we’d like to improve in any area of our lives, it’s important to ask a few questions: 

  • What are your main skills? What’s already in your toolbox?

  • Are there things you’re naturally good at—special talents if you will?

  • What brings you joy? Wouldn’t it be awesome to level up on fun?

Take some time to think about these questions and write out your answers; they will guide us forward. 

Next, using those answers as your frame, make a list of ways you can improve by absorbing information. List everything you can think of—radio shows, books/audiobooks, articles, podcasts, websites—capture it all! 

An evening or morning routine can include reading 6 pages of a book, that’s 2,172 pages a year. Suggestion: leave the book on your pillow and it’ll be easy to create this habit when you crawl into bed at night. You can listen to one Podcast a day while cleaning, driving, or getting some exercise. Pick something that relates to your professional field or some personal goal you have.

The key is not to passively listen but actively make notes and schedule times in your calendar to try the suggestions and exercises you read about.  

Right now, my new thing is 20 minutes a day on Duolingo to keep up my French between classes. Half the time I’m living in France and I have to tell you my entire life would run much more smoothly if I had the language, but full-time classes don’t work for my business and my “having a life,” and health goals like yoga and eating right.

What would up-level your life?  

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, so get out of that kind of stinking thinking. In addition, right now I read in the morning and at night, and listen to at least one podcast a day, and one book on Audible a week! I love it, I learn so much. Don’t worry about integrating all that you learn but calendar time for the important stuff. Be sure to stick with one subject matter, so your mind doesn’t go spastic with too much information. Often times I read or listen to the same things on the subject just said a little differently, which helps us integrate and really learn the information.

Let’s say you decide that you need to learn how to be more assertive in your relationships. Then educate yourself on this topic until you feel you have achieved the result you want. State your goal such as, “In two months, by such and such date I easily state my needs, wants and boundaries clearly, in romantic, personal and professional relationships.”

If you carve out time each month to absorb this new info, you’ll be shocked at the knowledge and inspiration you find that accumulates over time. The compound effect is incredible, for my current plan it’s — 52 new books read, and 7,300 minutes of learning another language a year. Enter each item on the calendar if you need to — just make sure you’re putting in the time, every single week, or every single day, to improve and schedule time to implement the exercises. 

Otherwise, you’ll be spinning your wheels and repeating yourself forever, like the lyrics to “Level Up,” by Ciara. Have you heard that song?

Don’t pressure yourself to learn everything all at once.

That is what we usually do, and then the goal is so big and so rushed that we quit on it. Quit on ourselves and that leads to a loss in confidence. The remedy is to do one small thing and allow it to build over time.

Don’t stay stuck at less than your peak performance that’s just no fun repeating the same old patterns!

If you’re stuck in a pattern of self-criticism you may need help to allow you to uplevel without all the resistance of negative self-talk, and focus on what you’re not doing instead of what you are doing, and negative questions, like, “What’s wrong with me, why is this so hard for me?” Which leads your brain to spit out a bunch of negative answers that just take away any joy and motivation in the leveling process.

Go for it woman. One baby step at a time from thoughts and feelings that support you instead of berating yourself for not doing more, faster. A good one I like to use is: “Of course, I can figure this out.”