Are you familiar with the three zones of proximal development? I've experienced all of them within the past month of quitting my full-time job and pursuing my own dreams of helping others outside of the hospital setting.
The first zone is the comfort zone. We all know this one. It feels safe and secure and monotonous. It's smothered in boredom. Things are easy and at the same time, largely unfulfilling.
The second is the learning zone, where you're putting new information and pieces together. You're stretched, constantly expanding your knowledge, and experiencing deeper levels of growth. This is where we make meaning, forge new paths, and feel inspired.
The panic zone is similar to when you're pummeled by waves in the ocean. The gap between what you currently know and what you need to know feels too wide. You've lost your bearings, you have no idea which way is up, and the fear is screaming at you. Learning is halted. Your natural instinct is to contract and pull back and quit. The survival mechanism kicks in full-blast. You.Must.Get.Back.To.Safety.Now.
So what prevents someone from heading straight back to their comfort zone and hiding there forever? Friends. Mentors. Teachers. People who push you up to that razor thin edge up against the panic zone yet keep you anchored in the learning zone. They reaffirm who you are, what you desired long before the fear started screaming, and believe in your potential. They remind you how much you love to swim. And that you're right where you belong, going after your big dreams and refusing to play small in your life anymore.
The most exciting thing? The more you continue to push up against the panic zone without fully getting submerged into it, your learning zone actually expands and widens. And this, my friends, is the whole point of learning!
So examine the different areas of your life- your career, your relationships, your health, and how you contribute to the world. Which zones are you in? And who can you be an anchor to?
I'll meet you in the learning zone. That's where I plan on staying for the rest of my life. Because I love to swim.