14th February 2020

Blog: How comfortable is your comfort zone?

The Clergy Transitions Service’s Helen Averill explains how even considering a change can be good for our wellbeing

Out there on the web, I found a self-help suggestion about taking cold showers and how it can transform your life. I understand that the idea is to get one used to experiencing ‘the flinch’ and working through it to a new perspective. Apparently this makes it easier to get out of your comfort zone.  If sharp, cold awakenings are your thing, I am happy for you – but I would advocate a different way to approach change, something we put into practice every day at the Clergy Transitions Service.

Don’t be a frog

You may wonder why anyone wants to get out of their comfort zone at all; as the name suggests, we may be quite content and happy where we are.  If that is the case for you, great, but for some, the comfort zone is not truly comfortable – it can also serve as a constraint, or even prison.  Ninety per cent of people (as a rough guide) find change difficult or even frightening and can end up like frogs being boiled – deeply uncomfortable but unable to jump out of the pot until it’s too late.

We all live with real constraints – family, finances, beliefs and abilities.  Most people overestimate the difficulties of working through the first three and underestimate their own capability.  For many Transitions Service clients, the biggest challenges to moving on are low self-worth and fear of failure.  Of those who turn to the Clergy Transitions Service for help, some have reached a breaking point where they question their calling, experience ill-health both mental and physical and feel trapped in a negative cycle.

Downward spiral

Quite often, the people in that group, because of the stress and challenges of their lives, have let go of all the practices and good behaviours that could support and sustain them. This would include prayer, spiritual direction, exercise and wellbeing support of the kind that St Luke’s offers, such as reflective practice or resilience training.

The Clergy Transitions Service works with individuals confidentially and at their own pace to build up a picture of their gifts, calling and ministry. We support people to reset their outlook and help them get over ‘the flinch’ of considering change, so that the step to actually making a change is not so daunting.  The Service uses exercises and personal review to help clients focus on their experience and their needs that will support their search for a role in which to flourish.

What do you need?

Not all the 100-plus clients who come to the Service each year are in this situation.  Some are at a crossroads and want to think carefully about their options and what that might mean for their future.  Others want help with applications, interview practice and support with finding roles. Clients range from curates to people looking for a post in their late 60s.

On average, 700 ordained ministers in the Church of England change their role or location or both, every year.  Not all moves involve stipendiary ministry; making a transition to chaplaincy, part-time, PTO (Permission to Officiate), cathedral and diocesan roles can all be options and the Clergy Transitions Service has helped with all of these types of moves.

To start a conversation with the Clergy Transitions Service: