Step into the New You! Avoid the Snapback to Your Comfort Zone
Last spring, I was sitting in Reecia’s Salon in Whitefish getting my hair colored when Angie, a cosmetologist teaching makeup to another gal asked me, “Hey, can we use you as a make-up model?” With my head a mess of goo and nothing to do for the next forty-minutes, I said, “Sure!” Plus, that night I’d be acting in the play Radium Girls, as Marie Curie, at O'Shaughnessy Center. Makeup help was welcome.
With my back to the mirror, Angie and her student smoothed my complexion with foundation and defined my cheekbones and eyebrows. Red-orange lipstick was their final touch. They “Ooohed!” over their work, but when I swiveled around I was shocked. OMG! What I saw looked horrible to me. All I said was, “Are you sure?”
I continued to get compliments from clients and stylists during the rest of my time at the salon (I was too chicken to take off the makeup while I was still there). I kept thinking, “Really? What are they seeing? This does not fit my image of what looks good on me!”
In my car, I wiped off the orange-red gloss, reapplied my old standby, and thought, Whew, that feels better!
We each have a comfort zone we hang out in.
Our comfort zone may be our appearance, such as hair, makeup, weight, or style. We all know that gal who still sports a mullet and wears shoulder pads and mom jeans, unable to let go of who she was back in the 80s.
Our comfort zone may be the type of relationship we keep winding up in. We also all know that gal who keeps picking bad boys then being surprised when they treats her poorly and run off with younger women. (Hopefully, this isn’t you.)
Our comfort zone may be around career or money. We struggle financially, finally get that raise, but within a matter of months, after a new car and some new clothes, we have the same amount of debt we can’t seem to pay off.
My theory is that if we gave the woman with the mullet a complete makeover, she’d soon be putting back on shoulder-padded jackets and growing out her hair.
Snapback: Jumping Too Far Too Fast
In my work with people who make career and life changes, I often see that when a jump is too big or fast, there’s a boomerang response and people snap back into their old comfort zone.
If we’re lucky, those around us provide feedback and support as we continue moving forward, but when a change is too big or fast, we’re likely to discount support and dive back into the privacy of our known world. Picture me swiping off orange-red lipstick in the privacy of my car.
Mary and Diane
This kind of snapback happened to Mary and Diane, clients of mine. They each took a risk, made a change, then snapped back, winding up frustrated and disappointed in themselves.
Mary’s promotion put her in her first leadership role at her computer software company. She knew how to program computers, but felt completely inadequate leading a team. Because we tend to feel better doing what we know, she stopped calling team meetings and spent most of her time alone in her office programing. She felt embarrassed but didn’t know what else to do.
Diane left the guy she loved because he wasn’t treating her well. It was a healthy decision, but after a week or two she started texting him “Just to say hi,” taking his calls, and meeting him for dinner, even though he was already involved with another woman. Diane always felt high when he texted back or when she saw him at dinner, until he started talking about his new woman, which left Diane feeling crushed.
Often, when we do something healthy or step toward what we say we want, we can’t hold onto it and we snap back to what we know best: mom jeans, our favorite lipstick, that bad boy, or our favorite task in our job.
Growing into the New You
What helps sustainable changes stick is breaking the process into baby steps and getting feedback from a trusted source. While fantasizing about radical changes and being happier, identify a path that gets you there more slowly and a support system that helps you grow into the new you.
That day at Reecia’s Salon, I accepted my newly defined eyebrows and cheekbones because I’ve spent the last six years in theater with cast mates who put makeup on dramatically and gave me lessons. Before my involvement in theater, it took me until my mid-thirties to regularly wear foundation, blush, and lipstick. These past six years have given me the time and support I needed to grow into wearing makeup that accentuates my features.
How to Step into the New You
These keys can help you grow sustainably into the new you:
1. Narrow down the problem by answering these questions:
What do you know?
What don’t you know?
What doesn’t fit?
2. Get feedback. Figure out who can give you straight, supportive feedback.
3. Take baby steps. Map out smaller steps that will make you feel successful.
For Mary, the shift came from breaking down her new role into what she knew and didn’t know. She knew programing but didn’t know leadership or people management. We worked on her beliefs about what that meant to her, and she investigated leadership training. We also set up a schedule where she could safely return to her comfort zone of programming during her day. The training and new schedule helped Mary make a gradual shift to leadership.
For Diane, the shift came from realizing contact with her ex wasn’t working. She set a boundary of no contact, but still had a strong desire to reach out to her ex and realized she couldn’t handle it alone. Like an alcoholic in AA who calls her sponsor when she wants to drink, Diane lined up three friends who she’d text, call, or meet with instead of reaching out to her ex. It took time, but Diane finally began to believe she could survive without him and deserved to be treated better.
For me, the shift meant keeping the dramatic brows and cheekbones and even wearing a lipstick, but of a different color. Maybe next time I’m at the salon I’ll try new color and, if I don’t like it, I’ll risk speaking up to ask for a less-radical color change before I head out the door.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.
Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.
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