HOW THE COMFORT ZONE IS RUINING YOUR LIFE
If you’re not where you want to be in your life, it may be because you’re stuck in your comfort zone.
The phrase ‘comfort zone’ was coined by management thinker Judith Bardwick in her 1991 work Danger in the Comfort Zone: “The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.”
Simply put, our comfort zone is our safe place. It's the things in our life that are regular, that are predictable, that cause no mental or emotional strain and stress.
Following the same routine, for instance, eating the same meals every week, is a perfect example of staying within your comfort zone.
In the comfort zone, you feel secure, and yes, sometimes even that little fuzziness of contentment. Sure, life in the comfort zone sounds great. Until it isn’t. Because living in your comfort zone limits your experiences of life and stunts your personal growth. Not only is living in the comfort zone ruining your life, it could have a negative impact on your mental and physical health.
If you want to make progress in your life, you need to break free from what holds you back.
What happens inside the comfort zone?
The comfort zone is essentially a subconscious pattern of behaviour. Its purpose is to minimise stress and risk in order to keep you safe and secure. When you’re in repetition mode, your learning centres essentially shut down and you become lazy. Life becomes predictable, you fail to expand your conscious awareness and you remain stagnated. Stagnation is not good for your health, your confidence or your fulfilment of life.
We learn more about ourselves when we do something new; face challenges, confront fears. When you know more about your capabilities, you are more prepared to step out of your comfort zone, and when you do, you grow. The good news is you grow more when you fail. So, failing is win-win. The comfort zone doesn’t give you any motivation to live life. It makes you lazy.
Routines may feel like they give you stability and comfort but rigidly sticking to your schedule, personal preferences and social engagements, but routine becomes dangerous. When you stay comfortable for too long you begin to get bored, lazy, and content.
William S. Burroughs famously said, “when you stop growing you start dying.”
Life is so much more fulfilling when you are constantly learning, growing, connecting, and achieving your goals.
Breaking out of the comfort zone
Personal growth is about becoming more than what you are now. To reach your goals and get to the next level, you need to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone into what psychology calls “Optimal Anxiety”. Optimal anxiety is that state of mind where you feel a little scared but not so afraid that it prevents you from trying. To reach your life’s goals you can’t be afraid to shoot.
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the United State’s WW2 President Franklin D., famously said: “do one thing every day that scares you.”
You don’t have to go that far, but stepping out of your comfort zone every once in a while will:
+ Make you more productive
+ Make it easier to adapt to new circumstances and surroundings
+ Make you better equipped to cope with unexpected changes
+ Make facing challenges you come up against throughout life is easier
+ Broaden your conscious awareness and unleash creativity
It’s worth doing things differently when you are given the opportunity. You will need to rely on your warrior archetype. This is the unconscious energy that gives you the motivation and courage to try something new. Be careful not to charge into life-changing challenges head first though. Have a strategy.
Other times spontaneity is the best way forward. Making a snap decision doesn’t give your ego time to overpower you with its safety warning. Sure, you will hear that voice of doubt, but fight the fear and do it anyway and trust you’ll be fine.
Sure, you may face temporary discomfort as you leave an unfulfilling job, relationship, or city, but out of that discomfort will grow new opportunities that you can build your dreams on.
It can take a huge effort to step out of your comfort zone. Courage, inner-strength and confidence are needed but the more you make that step, the easier it is to face life and grow personally, in your career and in your relationships. So don’t let the bubble of the comfort zone ruin your life. Make it your goal to live on the edge and reach for something different.
Steps for getting out of your comfort zone
Staying in your comfort zone, like not booking a trip abroad because you fear flying, or not joining the gym even though you want to get fit, well it prevents you from true success and happiness in life. That’s because one of the best ways to grow is to test the limits of what you consider “normal” to live the life you want.
Simply put “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
It takes courage to step from the comfort zone into the fear zone. Without a clear roadmap, there’s no way to build on previous experiences. This can be anxiety provoking.
Only when you stop letting fears and anxiety hold you back, will you start to make those major breakthroughs in life.
Persevere long enough, and you enter the learning zone, where you gain new skills and deal with challenges resourcefully. After a learning period, a new comfort zone is created, expanding your ability to reach even greater heights. This is what it means to be in the growth zone.
It’s important to accept that the process of moving from the comfort zone to a growth zone may not be linear and you may even need to retreat to your comfort zone periodically to recharge before mustering up the strength to press on.
Below are 7 steps you can use to push those self-created boundaries of what you think is possible.
Things you can try to leave your comfort zone include:
+ Learn new skills (language, music, art)
+ Join a club or try a new workout
+ Sign up for a challenge (toughmudda, three peaks, marathon)
+ Travel to a new place
+ Speaking up in class or business meetings
+ Start a new business venture or getting a new job
Activate your HIMMENSE potential. You’ve got this.
Published 18 Nov 2022
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