The Stretch Zone

Often after every rigorous exercise, we do exercises that help us cool down. And then we do stretches.

Stretches are uncomfortable. They are painful. You often feel points of tension and tightness.

But stretches are necessary, for it is in stretching that we grow. It is in stretching that we reach beyond ourselves to the next level.

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The inner circle is the comfort zone, the outer circle is the stretch zone

And that’s what the rest of life is like. Most of us like to live in the comfort zone, the easy zone, the zone where we are sure of ourselves and our surroundings. The zone where we are content with who we are, where we’re at, the path we have chosen. Nothing rocks us, and we certainly don’t rock any boats in that zone. There maybe a few bumps in the comfort zone, but nothing that we cant handle with the skills and resources we have. It’s nice in the comfort zone. But in the comfort zone, it’s easy for us to become flabby, to get lazy. It’s easy for our muscles to die, because we are not challenging them (whether physical, or mental  or relational or financial or career or creative muscles). What we often forget is that our current comfort zone was once uncomfortable to us. We had to stretch and grow to get to the place we are now so comfortable in.

We always need to watch that we don’t become too comfortable or stay too long in our current comfort zone. We always need to watch that we don’t settle. That we don’t stop growing. And the only way to do this is to always be reaching for our stretch zone – that realm of our dreams, that realm of our highest potential in all areas of our lives. The stretch zone is a place of the unknown. It’s a place of fear (and sometimes of pain). It is a place of discomfort. But it is a place of growth, a place of newness, of excitement, a place where we see different things and see things differently.

In order to grow, we need to keep expanding the zone of the comfortable by doing as many uncomfortable things as possible. That’s why I went bungee jumping this year. That’s why I want to climb Rwenzori Mountain. That is why I want to go white water rafting some day soon. That’s why I keep writing this blog every day. All these represent the uncomfortable for me. But they stretch me. They help me grow. They help me learn.

I invite you to join me. Do something this year that it totally uncomfortable for you. Stretch yourself.  And as Mary Oliver says in her poem ‘The Summer Day’, “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

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