Do you remember in school that wherever you sat the first day of class was YOUR seat for the entire year? It’s quite interesting how territorial we become about “our” place. It becomes a comfortable and familiar location to return to. Most people wouldn’t want to change seats, ever!

This same phenomenon happens with my Masters swimming group. We’re a small contingent of a core of 8 people allowing one swimming lane per person. The lanes aren’t arranged by ability, rather where the person landed on their first day. We get used to that location and feel comfortable there. It’s really sacrilegious to take over a person’s lane just because you want to!

When someone new comes to the pool, there’s a need to figure out where this person will go. (And if they get there before a regular swimmer and takes someone else’s lane, there is visible discomfort on the lane owner’s face!) Whenever this happens, I’m usually the first one to pipe up and move to share a lane with a fellow swimmer. Yes it’s different sharing a lane (anyone reading this who’s a swimmer knows what I mean!) but it’s also different moving to another part of the pool. However, when I did this recently, I felt happy that I made this new swimmer comfortable. I also found I had a renewed energy around my workout. I wasn’t lulled into the familiar. I had to be aware of the other swimmer I was swimming with so we didn’t collide which in turn made me swim in straighter lines than usual. I was acutely aware of what was going on around me whereas I am usually comfortably oblivious. I was also closer to the timing clock as well as the music source which always makes me happy. I am all for being mindful and conscious.

This situation got me thinking about the concept of getting out of one’s comfort zone. No, it’s not natural for a human being to choose discomfort; however, this uneasiness can create shifts in thinking and perspective. It provides us with opportunities to challenge ourselves and fully develop. For me it’s something I will choose now and again for this exact purpose. So when was the last time YOU changed lanes? I highly recommend it, at least once in a while.