How Comfortable is your Comfort Zone?
Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut?
Do you have a mental list of BIG things you’d really like to do? But you notice that list that’s been rattling around in your head (or even on paper) for quite a while now, and somehow you never quite getting around to making them happen?
I’m not talking about the never-ending To-Do list here.
I’m talking about that ‘dream list’, those things you dream of doing in your life or business, but they feel a little scary or somehow out of reach. And yet, you still think you could give it a go.
If this is sounding familiar, you’re probably resistant to venturing out of that nice familiar territory known as your Comfort Zone.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this comfort zone, it’s a psychological term used to describe those areas and aspects of life that are familiar and safe. You enjoy routines and patterns that minimize risk and stress.
So, what’s wrong with that?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of comfort…. but just like everything, it’s better in moderation!
That’s because as healthy and—well, comforting—as regular routines are, if we become too glued to them we are missing out on some truly magical opportunities to grow and transform.
Remaining in your comfort zone is a recipe for a boring life. And if you’re reading this, I don’t think you want a boring life!
I mean, it’s called the ‘comfort zone’, but how ‘comfortable’ is it really when life is beige and the same?
But I Love Comfort!
It might not look like it now, but I’ve been a poster child for clinging to my comfort zone.In addition to craving emotional familiarity and comfort, I’m embarrassingly addicted to physical comfort too.
I grew up with a mother (whom I adored), who insisted on her comforts. (Which is totally understandable considering the illnesses, pain, and accidents she endured during her short life.) She despised being cold, she eschewed camping or any outdoor activity that could involve mosquitoes and bugs, she insisted on her hot cup of black coffee immediately upon arising every morning.
I could go on. But the point was she wanted her comforts.
Growing up, I took that all in. I had all my own physical and emotional needs that I absolutely HAD to make sure were met. Because I had learned this at my mother’s knee, I just assumed that’s the way one lived life.
It wasn’t until I was into my early 20’s that I began to realize that perhaps it wasn’t serving me so well to be so wedded to my comforts and soft addictions.
Yet, seeing that did not make it easy to give them up. In fact, it’s all STILL a work in progress. (I don’t have to have that piping hot cup of coffee waiting for me upon arising, but I’ve been known to get grumpy if I can’t access a good cup of joe.)
So, although it scared the living shit out of me, I made a commitment to (at least sometimes) push past my natural resistance and try out some things that were outside my little sphere of comfort.
I’d like to say that I just got bolder and bolder, and eventually became a champion of risk-taking.
But, the truth is, to this day I often still have to talk myself into venturing beyond that comfort zone. And when I do, I have to battle the temptation to scuttle right back the instant I get an inkling that something might go awry.
What Happens When You Step Out
If you’re someone who dislikes changing things up, trying out something new, or otherwise leaving that comfort zone—here’s the good news!
Once you do it, you get a rush of good feelings. A sense of pride and confidence. In short, on the other side of that scary step you feel like an awesome badass!
In fact, that rush feels a whole lot better than the dozy comfort of just staying put where it’s safe.
Better yet, every time you give yourself that push out of the baby pool you find it just a tiny bit easier next time.
In my coaching business I bump up against the comfort zone thing ALL the time.
The other day, I took a big step (to me) outside of the safety zone. I led my first life video class!
My relationship with video, the camera, public speaking, and my self judgment is another story for another blog (or several). Just suffice it say that this was HUGE for me to teach a group live on video!
To add to the discomfort I had to do it all with brand new technology for group videos that I hadn’t really tested well yet.
And…. I wasn’t perfect…but I was pretty damn good! The tech glitches were minimal. I had great information to share, I had a group of people who were interested and following along, and it didn’t really matter that the camera accentuated my double chin!
What mattered was my newfound confidence and knowledge that I can now teach on video! (Watch for Facebook Lives coming soon!)
Craving comfort is something we’re wired to do. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it’s our brains. They are designed for efficiency and breaking patterns and carving new neural pathways is simply not efficient.
And that turns out to be another benefit of taking a baby step outside of the zone, it begins to rewire your brain and your beliefs—to “I think I can.”
Grow that Zone
This becomes more and more important in our second half of life when our comfort zones naturally begin to shrink. Maybe you’ve noticed that you were more willing to try out new restaurants, or even pick up and move house in your 20s then you are now.
If left unchecked, we start to grow more attached to the familiar and the safe. So, there’s another benefit to trying something new. It can help you feel younger, less stodgy.
But, don’t get too crazy! If you push too hard, go way the heck out on a limb and then take a hard fall, that can have the opposite result as intended. It might make it even harder to take that step out next time.
If you feel like you’ve been trapped in your zone of comfort for too long, start with small steps, but ones that stretch you. Build those muscles to endure a bit of emotional discomfort little by little.
If even that is just too, well—uncomfortable, I’ve got a virtual box full of tricks to help you take that step. They work for me, and they can work for you. (And they’re not really ‘tricks’ and definitely not gimmicks. They are tried and true tools and techniques drawn from my training and experience.)
I’ll share a few of these in my next blog about growing your comfort zone.
Or, contact me for a free consult, and gain some confidence for stepping out.
Finding the courage to move beyond your comfort zone is critical to creating a reinvented life!