THE NEW LIST

2015. The year I opened to mind to all the things that can be done in this world and how it feels to achieve something you never thought you could. 52 challenges in 52 weeks – My Comfort Zone Challenge took over my life and by the end of the year, I was just happy to say I completed it.
2016. I sit here in week 14 of the new year, and I can’t believe I’m saying it but… I miss it. I’ve seen a couple of people who are embarking on their on 52 challenges in 52 weeks, which is great to see, but remember, it started here first!

The pure intensity of trying to complete 52 challenges in 52 weeks, meant that, I couldn’t always complete certain challenges and I certainly didn’t do everything I wanted to do. So the next phase of my comfort zone challenge is ‘THE NEW LIST’. I never shared my list in 2015, it was just an ideas list, none of you needed to see it. THE NEW LIST is yours to share with me. The rules aren’t as strict this time. No time frame to complete it. It can be ambitious. It can be added too over time. The key to this list is not to become a bucket list – this is a comfort zone challenge list (they are completely different).

So here it is:

– Raise £20 000 for charity in my lifetime – Currently £2 385.55 – 11.9% Complete
Run a half marathon HERE
– Run a marathon – DONATE HERE
– Make national news HERE
– Complete a skydive
– A charity boxing match
– Climb a mountain
– Fly a plane
– Paragliding
– Hold a snake
– Wing walking
– Bungee jump
– Complete a Trek
– London to Paris bike ride
– Visit every continent
– Travel for more than 2 months
– Drive a race car
– Speak in front of a crowd of 500+
– Try surfing
– Act in a play/tv/movie
– Be an extra
– Go on a game show
– Have a swimming lesson
– Shark diving
– Break a world record
– Walk on a nude beach
– Become a mentor
– Be an organ donor
– Learn a new language
– Pay a bill for a stranger
– Babysit
– Aerobatics
– Hitch hiking
– Buy lunch for a homeless person
– Play in a band
– Life Modelling – Model and Artist
– Get Lost (Find my way home with no technology)
– Book a flight at the airport
– A day of complimenting strangers
– Juice Cleanse
– Canoeing
– Volunteer in a hospital
– A dance competition
– An EXTREME challenge
– Abseil down a building
– Meet a personal hero

The list will be added too. If you have ideas, particularly Charity Challenges, let me know. I’m interested in partnering with charities to achieve some of these ideas.

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A year outside my comfort zone

So here I am. 1 year, 365 days, 52 weeks, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes (you get the idea) of attempting to live outside my comfort zone. Here’s a story of a 24-year-old guy, just making his way in life, taking on what starts as a personal challenge and ends up being something so much more than that.

I remember the moment I came up with this idea, driving in the car on the way home from work, just pondering life. In my head, the idea of doing a challenge a week would be easy. Would people buy into the idea? I wasn’t so sure.

I remember the moment I told my friend Jake about the idea, the first person to hear about it. We were standing in a bar, with a poster of an open mic night being advertised, and I said, I’m going to do that. I shared my idea to him and he completely encouraged me.

I remember the moment I put that first ever post up. My friends, Dan and Andy, messaged me saying what a great idea, and giving me ideas for challenges. Everyone that saw it were so receptive of the idea.

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I remember the moment I received my first bit of criticism about the idea. A colleague of mine jovially told me what’s a guy of my age doing stupid things like this, every week. I smiled, told him he was probably right, and ignored him.

Here’s the thing – everything single part of this comfort zone challenge taught me something. I’m talking far beyond learning to paint, learning to play guitar, learning a comedy sketch. I’m talking far things about learning things about myself a human being:

Commitment

I’ve never committed to something so intense. When people ask me what the biggest challenge of the year was, I simply tell them, the challenge of sorting out a challenge every week. Once they novelty had worn off, finding the motivation to find challenges became for want of a better a phrase ‘a pain in the a**e’. If someone organised a challenge for me each and every week, I believe this would have been easy.

Unfortunately, in a moment of weakness, three quarters of the way through, a drunk Tom Rose declared to his friends “I WANT THESE COMFORT ZONE CHALLENGES TO END.” And proceeded to ask his friends to “MAKE THEM END!!”. They say the truth comes out when you’re drunk – I can confirm this was the truth at the time.

I’ve never been a quitter, it’s something I pride myself on. During the lowest points of this year, I reminded myself that I would not be quitting at any cost. I remember close friends of mine saying “I recon you’ll only get to week 33” and I was determined to prove these people wrong. One of the great pleasures in life is doing what people say you cannot do – A quote that sits on my wall at work (I do love a quote). What have I learnt – If you say you’re going to do something, do it. The thing is, letting yourself down is the easiest thing in the world to do, but by doing so, I believe the chances of ever achieving something worthwhile are completely shot. If you tell yourself enough you can and will do something – I promise you, you CAN and WILL!

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The fear of failure

Ask yourself what is your biggest fear. Is it heights? Is it snakes? Is it death even? I truly believe the fear of failure is the biggest thing holding us back in life and something that resonates in us all and certainly with myself. In a world where we long for acceptance, failing, prevents us from gambling.

I can think of many occasions over the year people told me “I could never do that”. My genuine reply is, “If I can, you can. What’s stopping you?”. Many people will tell me an excuse along the lines of “I can’t blah blah blah”… In reality, they fear failure.

Throughout my life, I’ve cared passionately what people think of me. The fear of failure and publicly being accepted, prevented me from achieving anything. I have failed before, it’s rubbish, but the feeling of achievement is something much greater and more powerful. You’ll never avoid failure, it happens. I try to use failure and learn from it, or let it motivate me. Dream big and dare to fail.

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Enjoyment

Sorry, another quote to share with you, but I quite liked this one. ‘Some people have such good taste they can’t enjoy anything’. I learnt quickly along the way, just because I haven’t tried something or my perception isn’t something I’d associate myself with, doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it. So many challenges I actually enjoyed doing. Comedy, performing, bike rides, dancing, beekeeping, horse riding etc. I enjoyed them all. Having the mind-set to enjoy things along the way, made everything that much easier. A smile heals all.

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Things could be worse

No matter how rubbish the challenges were, no matter how bad I felt, no matter bad things got over the last year, no matter how much I got fed up with being asked “what’s this week’s challenge”. I really found out things could be worse.

The final quarter of the year, I had a bit of an epiphany moment.. I was sleeping rough on a mild Septembers night. I was freezing cold, with pins and needles, wrapped in seven layers and a cardboard box and thought, how do people do this? I began to think more and more about the life I had compared to people that are lonely and do not have a home. So when I really needed some motivation to finish these challenges, I decided to dedicate my challenges to two amazing charities. Using the platform, I had created, I hoped I could help some people that really need it.

The support I received was overwhelming. I sit here today writing, having raised over £1500 and counting for the charities. My blog has taken me onto the front page of the newspapers, onto radio, on TV and amassed nearly 16 000 views. What started off as a personal challenge to myself turned into something I’ll never forget and will talk about for the rest of my life (unlucky, if you’re a friend of mine).

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People have asked what my next new year’s resolution is. Whilst not as big and challenging, I have decided to commit to use everything I have learnt from the past year and live by the statements I have made. Amazingly, three people have told me they are going to try something similar. To inspire people to try something similar, makes me proud. If you want to share your stories with me, I will happily post people doing something similar. This isn’t the end of mycomfortzonechallenge.com, I will be posting ad-hoc challenges that I do throughout my life, starting with Brighton Marathon.

YOU CAN STILL DONATE HERE

Ladies and Gentlemen – Life really does begin at the end of you comfort zone.

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Week 50: Surviving Christmas Homeless Open Centre

Week 50 of my comfort zone challenge, one of the most refreshing to date. This week, instead of enjoying Christmas day from the comfort of my own home, I decided to help out the guys at the Surviving Christmas Open Centre.

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This amazing charity, organise a place to go, for those living on societies edge on Christmas day and boxing day. As well as this, they deliver presents to selected houses around the Hastings and Rother area for those that may not receive any.

I got to the centre at 9am and not knowing anyone, so there was an awkward half an hour of standing around. The key here is all volunteers want to help out, but not all have jobs to do. One of the main jobs of the volunteers, is to be company. Sounds easy and not a big deal, but as I found it through the day, it really is.

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I started the morning by sorting the presents that are going out for delivery, this was my way of feeling like I contributed because I’m not convinced chatting with me is great company for anyone. What I loved about the day, is nobody has any name badges or sense of authority… We’re all equal and can all make the most of the facilities. This wasn’t just a soup kitchen… People were offered a three course meal, free snacks, opportunity to visit the doctor, free clothing, free hair cuts, pedicures and entertainment to keep them occupied. It really was amazing.

Through out the day I got talking to various people, just moving myself about. Not everyone wanted to talk, but those who did seemed to really appreciate the company. I spoke to lots of people, but I just want to share two stories of conversations I had.

Jill

Jill came in on a Zimmer frame and immediately sat next to me. She said hello, and introduced herself and without any prompting began to tell me how lonely she was. It was heartbreaking. By circumstance, her dad had a stroke when he was 40, her husband died when she was 60, she has no other family to talk of and company was a rarity. She was just happy to be around people. I tried to take the conversation away from about loneliness, which was harder than I thought it would be, and started to talk about things more positive. The conversation ended with me escorting Jill to the doctor on site, but ended with a thank you like I’ve never had before. I must have been thanked a million times in my life for various bits, but none quite like this. She looked into my eyes, touched my arm and thanked me with real meaning.

Ryan

Ryan had recently had a brain operation having had a nasty fall. The guy was clearly lucky to be alive and boy did he know it. He seemed genuinely grateful to be alive and appreciated every moment of the day. We shared a conversation about love of dogs, something I can relate too. He told me his dog was his best friend in the world, and how she knew something was up when he came back from hospital. Rather than jumping all over him, she seemed to try and help him. Ryan told me how I should go travelling and enjoy my life in my younger days, because you never know what’s around the corner. I tend to agree with him. It was quite an inspiring conversation.

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This day, I believe, is what the Christmas spirit is all about. I love Christmas day with the family as much as anyone but taking 7 hours out of my Christmas day to do this, made me appreciate them 10x more. The people of this charity should be very proud of what they do, because it was a special day to be apart of. I recommend this to anyone, and if you don’t want to give up Christmas day, there are plenty of other days you can help in the build up to Christmas day. Go in with an open mind and you’ll come out with a very unique feeling that is hard to describe.

The day further confirmed that I am supporting a special charity, and makes the hard work of the year feel worthwhile.

Week 31: Painting

Week 31 of my comfort zone challenge… this week I got my creative juices flowing as I received a painting lesson.

To say I’m not an artist would be a bit of an understatement, despite my mum, sister and uncle all being excellent artists, I got the art genes from my dad. A bit of my art background, during my year 7 art class, I was given a merit for my art drawing with the teacher telling me “I love that you’ve done some abstract art, if I wanted it to look like the object, I’d take a photo”… I did however, try and draw to look like the object. My other infamous piece of artwork as a child is my drawing of a goalkeeper aged 9 (see below). So it’s safe to say I wasn’t blessed with artistic ability.

Tom Rose - 26/12/2000
Tom Rose – 26/12/2000

I can’t remember ever really painting at school, so was keen to have a little lesson and try it out. I contacted Marcia from Creative Art Academy, and managed to arrange a good time to do it. So happy I did, as Marcia was one of the nicest women I’ve ever met. Originally from America, she moved over to England 20 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Talk about doing something out of your comfort zone… Moving to another country. I had no idea what I wanted to paint really, so left it Marcia to find something suitable. Bless her, she knew I was an Oasis fan, so found me a suitable picture!

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So how was she going to make a terrible artist paint? Well we started off by reducing the picture into a grid, and drawing the shapes in each section of the grid on a piece of paper. Once we were happy with the outline, we turned over the piece of paper and coloured the whole back of it in with pencil. Then we put the paper over the canvas and went over the original lines to put it onto the canvas. Marcia was great at helping me find the correct colours, and they key to mixing in the colours was to not let it dry. We were doing a mix media painting, using water colours and oil paints (I think).

Progress
Progress

Conversation flowed whilst we’d work the magic, and the time just flew. I almost got in concentration when doing it, so much so I forgot to eat my ginger biscuits that were kindly offered! It was extremely therapeutic and I can totally understand why people paint regularly.

Wow..

I have to say, I never believed I would be able to do a job as I did on this. Marcia is one hell of a teacher. If you’re local to the Hastings area, I implore you to get in touch with Marcia and learn to paint with her. She does all sorts including ceramics and yoga! A lady of many talents!

Proud as punch

Just look what I did in two and a half hours with her. Genuinely surprised myself that I could do this, and I’m proud as punch of my painting. I’ve decided to put up my masterpiece on my bedroom wall!

Pride of place
Pride of place

Week 11: Dancing the Smooth Jive

Week 11 of my Comfort Zone Challenge saw me enter the realms of Ballroom dancing.

For those of you that know me even slightly well, you’ll know I cannot dance at all. I seem to have an awkward posture and a terrible feel for rhythm when it comes to dancing. In fact, it’s only once I’ve had quite a lot to drink that I tend to stray away from Hitch’s advice of elbows 6 inches from the chest at a 90 degree angle, and a rock from side to side. Once the drink is flowing, the air disks and air guitars have been known to make an appearance, but standing by the bar and bopping my head is my usual go too!

I was invited, by my god mother, to take part in a smooth jive class. Fair to say, if I’m bad at dancing in a club, under no pressure, dancing in a class with people who actual want to dance well, was going to be tough.

Upon arrival, a few people were already dancing in the village hall. These guys were definitely not beginners, which straight away made me think I was going to be out of place. Throughout the evening, I was told everyone starts somewhere and reminded how my god father did it, and if he could do it, I could do it. I tended to agree with this notion. (Sorry, Frank)

The session was ran by Kane and Helen, and within the group were what are called ‘taxis’, whose role is to help beginners/intermediates dance, by being there to dance with. Contrary to what I thought, the age range of the people there ranged from 18 to at a guess late 60s. The session started by a step by step walk through of a dance to learn. The men stood on the outside inwards towards Kane, who gave out the instructions.

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You would do one move with a woman, and then all of the women would go clockwise in a circle and dance with another man. This meant every time there was a swap, I’d have to apologise to the new woman. “Hey, I’m Tom. I’m really sorry, this is my first time, and I can’t dance”. Most would reply an answer along the lines of “of course you can dance” or “oh don’t worry, you’ll love it”.

The first few times, I could not get my head around the moves in question. I was like Mr Tickle from the Mr Men books. Arms flying everywhere, and getting into a tangle with the women. What made it so hard, is that the male has to lead the dance, and as a beginner it’s borderline impossible to lead another person, when you can’t even do your own bit!

Eventually, I started to get the idea, and as one woman came back around the circle I had the stupidity to say.. “It’s fine, I’m becoming a pro at this now”…… Queue the cock up.

What was clear, everyone that was there loved these sessions. In my mind, it was going a bunch of women that wanted to dance, and their husbands that had been forced to come along with them. It may well have started like that, but all the blokes there seemed to be loving it. Everyone was up for a laugh. I laughed so much (mostly at how bad I was) but everyone would just laugh along with you.

After the beginners had a bit of technical coaching and the intermediates had learnt a more robust dance, the music was just played and we entered what they called ‘Freestyle’. This was a chance to chat or just dance into the night. I chatted with a few people, and they assured me that all men start out like me and it’s all about practice. A few of the older ladies, were keen to let me know, becoming a good dancer is a good way to ‘woo’ the women. I’m a long way off that I’d say!

There were some incredible dancers there, and I had a few dances with a couple of women in the freestyle before I thought it was time to go. I left around 10pm and the freestyle was still in full swing! No idea what time it ended, it could still be going on now for all I now! They certainly out lasted me. I did promise one of the ladies it wouldn’t be the last they saw me, so I guess I have no choice to return one day. (I secretly want to go back, it was good fun)

You can see in the short clip below, some of the moves I was busting. Yeah.. Agreed, I don’t think even Len Goodman would give me a seven for that dance! Room for improvement, at least!

I’ll be doing two challenges for charity in the coming months. One a fire walk for the Sara Lee Trust, and the other a sky dive for Samantha Beaven who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. If you would be willing to donate to either causes, I would be hugely appreciative. The links are below:

DONATE THE FIRE WALK

DONATE THE SKY DIVE