The Joy Formula: Avoiding Panic + Resisting Comfort

How stay in your most joyful learning mode

If you’re anything like me, I start to become uncomfortable when I’m not being stretched.  My mind begins swirling around with all sorts of new ideas, hungry to begin creating something new.  Funny enough, my comfort zone isn’t very comfortable to me! 
On the other hand, panic mode is on the opposite end of comfort – it’s when we’re operating  beyond our capabilities or work experience and major stress and anxiety begins to set in. 

I personally started feeling panic a few years ago when I began to franchise my company – there was so much to learn and while I had a deep desire to grow a national company and bring Little Nest to cities around the country, how to do it was very overwhelming. After much thought, I held an investment round in order to surround myself with people who have grown national brands before.  This has been invaluable to giving me the support system necessary to stay in learning mode.  I’m constantly reaching out to them when I need to figure out something new, which keeps me in learning mode and proactively prevents panic-land.

Learning takes up much of our internal resources, but also leaves energy left for our families, friends and outside interests.  When we are learning we find joy in personal growth, and in turn helping others grow. There is space for excitement, thoughtfulness and optimism.  Learning mode stretches us, but not to the point where we are constantly in a place of panic.
But for many of us the line between learning and panic is thin.  We can have many different challenges hitting at once and panic arrives without us first seeing it in the horizon.  When we panic, we become defensive, angry, and blaming.  We talk fast, fire off incoherent emails, and then forget what we said because our brains are moving so fast.  Moments of panic are natural, but hanging out there tends to take us further away from our goals instead of closer to them because we are so unproductive while in a state of panic.
If you find yourself panicking, it’s important to quickly bring yourself back to learning mode.  But how?

  • Slow down + restructure.  Progress doesn’t have to happen in the time frame or the way you originally thought.  Maybe you need to grow your business more slowly, become part of a larger community, sell a piece of it, walk away form something or even take on a partner.  Be willing to take a step backwards, get yourself into learning mode again and then use that momentum to propel forward. Increasing band-with always helps us get back to learning mode, because it allows for thinking time.
  • Connect with other people who have done what you’re trying to do. They can help, and you’ll be surprised as to how effortless they view their previous efforts when looking at them from a perspective of past success.  This is a great confidence builder.  You might need to swallow your pride a little to do this, but will get you back to your comfortable place very quickly so it’s worth bypassing the ego!  I’m at a point in my career where I have no shame reaching out to someone who has successfully done something I’m trying to do and ask for a meeting, even if we have never met.  It’s always surprising to me how quickly they say yes!
  • Re-read your big picture purpose out load 2x a day.  Is the stressor that is creating panic serving you or holding you back from that purpose?  If it’s limiting you, spend a small, pre-set amount of time discovering what you can learn from it, recording your lessons, and then move on.

When you are nearing panic mode, what are some ways you bring yourself back to learning?

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