Stepping out of the comfort zone

Comfort Zone

During some weeks, it feels like life is one load of laundry after another – with activities spinning in continuous cycles with the same materials repeating their journey  of wash, wear, repeat. And then some weeks, things are different.

Last week was an exceptionally different week because I forced myself to go outside my comfort zone.

In the past few months (wow, it’s months now instead of weeks!) since switching to a freelance schedule, I’ve never once looked back. I know it was the time to make a change and I don’t have any regrets. However, as I move forward on this uncharted territory, all I know is that I’m grateful that I now have a schedule that allows me flexibility, more time to spend with my kids and an outlet for creativity, all of which were very high on my list. I’ve also been fortunate to start working for a wonderful company, a PR/video production company called The Flip Side Communications, which allows me steady work from home working on projects that are helping businesses, which is another mission of mine.

The freelance writing portion of my schedule has been a little slower than I had imagined, but I’ve gotten some nice assignments, which have included a profile on a retiree who continues to follow his passion after retirement, a man who became an award-winning author after he retired, and a 67-year-old doctor who is currently completing his 10,000-mile bike ride around the perimeter of the United States as he raises funds to fight childhood cancer. I also finished an article for another publication  that will be coming out in January.

OK, back to last week.

I was honored to be asked to moderate a Q&A session last week for a local group that raises money for Technion Israel Institute of Technology, which is an amazing public research university founded in 1912. It’s the country’s oldest university and has produced “generations of engineers, architects, and scientists who have played a key role in laying the State of Israel’s infrastructure and establishing its crucial high-tech industries,” according to the university’s website.

The speaker was Brigadier Gen. Jacob Nagel, who is a professor at the university and heads the CSST (Center for Security science and Technology) and the PMRI (Peter Munk Research Institute). Before that, he was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser.

What was especially cool to me was that when I was in Israel last year at that time, exactly a year before to the day, he was in his role as the prime minister’s security adviser, which means he was advising the prime minister of Israel on the country’s security. And here I was a year later sitting in a Scottsdale living room with him hearing him talk about the technology in Israel’s military. Super cool.

Anyway, it didn’t quite turn out as planned – it turned out that he had a full presentation prepared so didn’t really need a moderator to ask him questions – but I still appreciated being asked because it was a such a cool opportunity and although I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over the last 17 or so years, it’s never while sitting in front of a group of people so accepting the offer was definitely out of my comfort zone.

The other step out of my comfort zone was performing one of my songs at a musical showcase. This was my third year doing this and it’s usually the only time each year I perform in public. I spend a lot of time singing/playing around the house and in the car (well, singing only in the car), but performing in public is outside my comfort zone as well so I rarely do it. But my friend who belongs to the synagogue performed with me last year and it was a success so she encouraged me to do it again this year. I was going to back out because we also had a friend’s birthday party the same evening on the other side of town and I wasn’t sure if my sons would be up for such a full evening, but my friend and my husband both strongly encouraged me to go and that push was all I needed.

The monthly songwriting workshop I go to happened to be that same day so I decided to play that song live that afternoon to see what feedback I’d receive on it. Typically I record the song at home and then play the recording at the workshop, but this time I decided to try it live to prepare for the evening’s performance. I probably didn’t hit all the notes, but got incredible feedback from it, with two of the professionals in the room saying that was probably the best song I’ve brought in (I’ve attended the workshop about a dozen times and brought in a song each time). So that was another example of going out of my comfort zone.

Why am I sharing this here? I noticed last week’s pattern of trying new things and wanted to share it in case anybody else needs a little encouragement to step out of their comfort zone, too.

As far as the next step on my freelance journey, I’m working on something with my kids that we plan on kicking off in January. It’s a big project we’re developing and I hope to announce it here soon.

Here’s the video of last week’s performance, in case you were curious. The lyrics in the song’s chorus sums up the message of this post so I’ll end with this:

You never know when it’ll be the last time
You never know if you’ll pass this way again

Don’t take for granted the circumstances that led you here
Now that you’re here, jump in.


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