How to be completely outside the box

by Elliot Lyons 

If we want to be different, eclipsing our boundaries, we must think different. So goes the frequently thrown around phrase “think outside the box.”

But for many of us, when we’re encouraged to “think outside the box,” we realize our desires, who we want to become, are already outside the box, existing beyond our comfort zones and even our current capabilities. 

Our desires are outside the box, but the act of wanting means we’re firmly on the inside looking out. The inside means comfort in familiarity, and here our habits maintain the border between where we are and where we want or need to be.   

So our problem isn’t that we can’t think outside the box: it’s that we can’t get out of it.

Getting outside necessitates aligning our actions to our desires. This means we’re going to have to do the hard stuff—getting up earlier, being honest with our partner(s) and ourselves, consistently applying to other jobs when we can’t stand the one we have.

Ending up outside the box means we have to step out of it, little by little, day by day, until we’ve moved out. This movement is defined by breaking up our goals into smaller, more manageable pieces rather than sweeping actions. If we want to run a marathon, we may need to start by running around the block, then adding another block, then another one, and so on until we’re ready for the big event, stepping more and more outside our comfort zones with each run.

Our goals just can’t be outside the box, but we have to have a process in place to get us there. This means also re-thinking our old processes and habits to get us the life we imagine, then executing.

Doing all the little stuff along the way builds our capabilities and resilience, which we’re going to need on the way to this new life we’ve envisioned for ourselves.

Because, on the path towards our goals, it’s going to sometimes look and feel like we’re going backwards.

But being able to look back and see that although we’re not there yet, we’re far from where we began—this has the power to keep us going, keep us pushing. Our belief will be supported by the fact that we can and are getting there.

This is where our box’s boundaries begin to fade.

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