Tidings of Comfort Zones and Joy

Life comes at us in waves. Sometimes the surge ripples gently by. Other times it can pound the daylights out of us and leave us gasping for breath.”   - Michael Hyatt


Wiping out is an under appreciated skill.”   - Laird Hamilton


This year was Ah-mazing….and intense. 

So much so that I found myself taking a refresher course on goal setting. Let me preface this by saying I’m a bit of a goal setting/time management snob. I am very fortunate in that my first “real” boss (at my first “real” job) was very dedicated to continuing education and giving her staff the skills to succeed (and cause her less headaches). She flew in a representative from the company that taught fortune 500 companies (and Lee Iacocca) time management. I don’t remember the name of the company, but what they taught me that day has lasted a lifetime.

Until this year. 

Everything I thought I knew about time management and goal setting imploded. 

How do I prioritize when there are a handful of high priorities that not only are equally important, but have equally catastrophic consequences?!

Then there was the issue of time travel….How can I be in 3 places (all equally important) all at once? 

There was also faulty math…If there are 24 hours in a day, and I’m using all of them, where can I add in this thing called “down time”?

A few weeks ago I came across a website promoting Michael Hyatt and his program “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever”. (#Navigate 2018)

What caught my eye were two hooks he cast:

  • Does the urgent crowd out what’s most important?
  • Have you had a banner year, but are exhausted?

I bit. Hook. Line. Sinker. 

It’s like he had lived 2017 with me. 

Before I began the 5 day course, I realized two things:

  • At some point over the past 20+ years I lost sight of the fact that time management and goal setting are two different beasts. I was managing my time, but not purposely incorporating my passions outside of my career life. Rookie mistake. 
  • There are 3 zones in goal setting: The comfort zone, the discomfort zone, and the delusional zone. The discomfort zone is where you want to be because nothing great happens in the other two zones. Although, I would like the luxury of checking out in the delusional zone every once in awhile. 

Then I realized…

I’ve been living (un)comfortably inside my discomfort zone for a solid decade. Seriously. A full  ten (10) years. Not by choice either, through a series of life events. I have had a major loss +/or life stressor every single year. Every. Single. Year. Sometimes multiples in one year - like a bonus gift or gift with purchase. (If you're just tuning in check out: What Are You Going To Do With The House and It's a Wonderful Messy Life to get caught up on the last year.)

I'm happy to report this year was "good stress" - stress from my business growing very quickly and getting some national attention from Redfin (Home Staging Secrets to Appeal to Buyers in Your City) and Feedspot (Top 100 Home Staging Blogs on the Planet). We (my team & I) were also very fortunate to be able to work with the national home builder, David Weekley Homes, in Indianapolis (wonderful group of people!). We staged some of their showcase homes in and around the Indianapolis area. They also hosted our home staging workshop for realtors - "House Trained". Through House Trained we met so many wonderful realtors and were able to donate $425 to Happy Labs Rescue (Labrador Retriever Rescue Group in Columbus, IN.)

Additionally, I was invited to sponsor & speak at the Keller Williams BOLD event for realtors twice this year. I love this event  & the realtors - amazing energy and group of leaders. We also continued our relationships with investors from across the United States and added a few more to the group. Finally, at the end of the year, I was successful in starting a local chapter of the national trade association for stagers - RESA (Real Estate Staging Association). All good stuff. However, stress is still stress - it throws you off balance. 

You’d think, by now, I’d be comfortable in my discomfort zone. I’m not. It has made me a better surfer though…at least on land. 

Have you ever heard of a hold down? Hold downs are when powerful waves come up over you and push you deep under water and can sometimes drag you for a distance underwater as well. The wave literally comes up over you and holds you inside the wave while it’s pressing down. The quickest way to get out of a hold down? 


The more you fight, the longer you stay in the underwater vortex the wave has created. When you relax you can float to the side and get to the surface quicker. 

Notice I said relaxing was the quickest way out, not the easiest. 

It’s not easy to relax when you are being pushed to the bottom of the ocean by a large wave of water. 

It’s not easy to relax when you are operating outside of your comfort zone on what seems like a daily basis for a decade. 

What’s the worst thing to do in a hold down? 


Nothing burns oxygen like panic. 

What happens if you don’t relax? What happens if you panic? 

Well…you can drown. Sink or swim - sound familiar? 

Collins English Dictionary defines ‘Sink or Swim’ as:

“Succeed through your own efforts or fail.” 


“To take risks where the alternatives are loss and failure or security or success.” 

In some odd way, hanging out in my discomfort zone, and being a lousy surfer, prepared me for the unique challenges and opportunities of 2017. Truth of the matter is that I spend more time in hold downs than actually riding the wave. 

Still, I love surfing. Surfing, like this year, is intense and an amazing thrill ride. Maybe I’m an adrenaline junkie. Why else would I expend so much energy to get out far enough to catch a wave that I’ll ride only for a minute..if I’m lucky. 

Maybe there’s another reason I love surfing. Maybe it’s the guiding principals of the sport - the discipline, the timing, the mental aspect of relaxing when you’re first instinct is to panic and to have a quiet mind in the roar of the surf. 

I’m so incredibly thankful for the opportunities I had this year. I’m also incredibly thankful for the events that held me in my discomfort zone. A decade was a bit extreme. However, If it weren’t for those events, I may not have recognized the opportunities that presented themselves this year. Spoiler alert: opportunities don't always present themselves as raving fans. In fact, the best opportunities have also been the hardest lessons and choices. 

In 2018 I plan to hang out in my discomfort zone again. This time, on purpose, and with purposes that extend past my work life. 

I wish everyone the happiest of new years - whatever zone you choose to be in for 2018!


Named one of the Top 100 Home Staging Blogs on the Planet by Feedspot.

Named one of the Top 100 Home Staging Blogs on the Planet by Feedspot.



Photo courtesy of: Jeremy Bishop