Getting Uncomfortable #9: Changing The Status Quo

What I've learned halfway through 2023 by getting uncomfortable on purpose.

5 minutes
Haley Stomp

My “getting uncomfortable” series started this year in an effort to shake things loose and jumpstart my work motor. I felt the need to actively push myself out of my comfort zone to truly come out of hibernation from my “great resignation” and work-from-home stuck-ness. I’m reaching out to find the place and space I left during COVID, something I recognize. The same, but different. Different in a way that fits more with how my life has changed and how I see it going forward. Halfway through the year, I’m doing a process check to see how it’s going and feeling like maybe this time, it’s happening.

Embrace Opposite Week

I started the year by challenging my mindset and trying to do the opposite of what was comfortable. I looked my inner “no, thank you” in the face. If I didn’t feel like getting uncomfortable, I did it anyway. It got me moving. Two great things happened. First, I shower and get dressed every morning in something besides athleisure wear. I’ve refreshed my wardrobe and upped my makeup game. Second, when I forced myself to go to the gym, I saw a fellow soccer mom and we are now walking together and planning to head back to classes at the gym after the summer.

Big Risk, Big Rewards

Next, I tried motivating myself by reflecting on the times I jumped at big opportunities to grow, requiring me to get out of my comfort zone. It was a reminder that great things come from saying yes. I needed to remember the person that jumped on a plane or signed up for a class, and I needed to remember the outcome. One of my mantras is to remember how it feels. Remember how it feels after these decisions and experiences so you can chase that feeling again (or avoid it for a not so great one).

It’s always a good idea to write down your wins and reflect on what makes you special. It’s fuel for the soul. I make my lists of daily or weekly wins when I need a jolt of positivity.

Be A Joiner

I embraced the awkward reentry into shared experiences with strangers and friends, shedding the tendency to stay home alone. I enjoyed a Zumba class and reconnected with several old friends. I’ve continued to focus on strengthening relationships with new friends and my existing community. Working on these friendships continues to pay off in emotional and physical wellbeing.

Being A Human Can Be Uncomfortable

I took on some serious topics to get uncomfortable on purpose including brain health with pre-teens and scheduling a colonoscopy. I can now report I have successfully completed my first colonoscopy. It was not a fun time, but it is an important step in preventative care. It was also a reminder that I can go a whole day eating nothing but popsicles and chicken broth. I try to remember this when I want to reach for an extra snack or something unhealthy. That 24-plus hours of being uncomfortable taught me a lot, and reflecting on my digestive health is a good reminder that aging requires an increased focus on our overall health. It’s no longer so much about looking good as it is quality and longevity of life.

Being A Courageous Leader

I shared some career moments of leadership with college students, both good decisions and some failures. As any mentor or teacher will tell you, you learn as much about yourself during this process as the students gain from your presentation. It’s a mutually beneficial experience to share with others what you’ve learned and hear what challenges they face, see how brave some of them already are and see your experiences reflected back to you.

Walls And Dead Ends

I hit a wall in late March and April. I had to address the uncomfortable truth that I was struggling with motivation. I put up some structure to see if I could make myself more accountable, but it felt a lot like forcing it. I tracked my moods and physical health to look for patterns. I talked to my doctor, armed with Excel graphs, about trends to make sure nothing physical was happening. The only real conclusions were that I might be mildly depressed and that I still love making Excel graphs and looking at data trends. I was still searching for the thing, in addition to parenting, that was going to help me jump out of bed and make a difference.

Change The Status Quo

All of this brings me to now. I am admittedly a fan of the National Treasure movies, cheesy Nicolas Cage quotes included. Although I don’t buy that they found the exact rocks to pour bottled water over at Mount Rushmore, who am I to challenge anything Helen Mirren has done? She is a goddess, and I can only hope to emulate her.

In National Treasure the “OG”, Patrick Gates, played by Jon Voight, says about their hostage situation, “Cooperation only lasts as long as the status quo changes in our favor.” To which Ben Gates (Cage) replies: “So we need to make sure the status quo changes in our favor.” A few minutes later, after they all almost die on a rickety old wooden staircase, Patrick (Voight) says, “The status quo has changed, Son,” and we find out they have in fact tricked the kidnappers into leaving them with only a short walk into the greatest treasure of our time.

Summer is here and in one fell swoop (thanks, Nate Bargatze) our daily routine has changed. I am happy to report the status quo has changed in my favor. I can no longer stay home alone, and I am forced to find a productive place to go work every day. I’m cycling between public libraries, currently sitting in my third one in two weeks. I’ve logged several hours of writing and I’m working on some new consulting projects. For the first time since 2020, I have what appears to be a real path to writing a book. I’ve contemplated taking down my bedroom COVID office. I can see myself driving to an office again.

It’s taken me more than a two-hour movie to find the next clue for the proverbial pot of gold, but the trendline is going in the right direction. I’m climbing again thanks to getting out of my comfort zone, a change in status quo and the ability to embrace what’s next.