We are not simply human beings – we are human ‘becomings‘. Sometimes, this means embracing who you can become, not just who you already are! In order to learn & grow – to achieve what you have never achieved before – you need to move outside your comfort zone!
You have to stretch! Climb over the razor wire!
On the other hand, in order to reach excellence and competency – that place you do things effortlessly, with unconscious competence… you need to be within your comfort zone!
Does that sound like a catch 22?
The challenge of comfort zones
One of the problems with comfort zones is that they become familiar. They say ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ – and so we find ourselves living in a comfort zone of complacency, boredom, indifference, & disengagement! A place where ‘nothing new is happening’.
A good comfort zone, on the other hand, is a place of safety, contentment, connection, and predictability. It’s a human necessity to feel safe and secure. Ideally, it’s a place of gratification. One where you are effective at what you do – an expert!
Great comfort zones allows you to dive deeply into your expertise, developing yourself within this zone and constantly improving. We might expand the zone slightly because of an overlap with another interest, but they are such small steps that we are comfortable taking them. You are constantly developing yourself and growing – taller & deeper.
“Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Caged-in by your comfort zone
But what happens when nothing new is happening? If we stay too long in any position, our muscles start to atrophy. If your leg went to sleep while you were sitting down, you would simply get up and move around and shake it until it was completely awake and all the blood had come back to all nerves and movement was fluid once more.
Why would you not do this with your life?
Just because you were once comfortable in the place you are now, if it has become uncomfortable, it’s time to get moving! Start shaking things up!
At that point, ask yourself – am I still on the top of my game? Am I innovating in my business – moving with the changing climate & conditions?
When we have success, there is the temptation to think we’ve done enough. But is the reading, growth, and studies that you are doing keeping you ahead of the changes & innovations of your field of expertise?
Do these “upgrades” allow you to create something new?
If you keep doing what you’ve been doing – you will keep getting the results you have been getting!
It’s when we allow that comfort zone to get us “stuck in a rut” that it becomes problematic! Quite simply put, the issue is that the world is constantly changing, and if we fail to grow our comfort zone, abilities and goals beyond the original boundaries – we get “stuck”.
The consequences of staying put
The limits that once served us and were effective – are now holding us in! We are no longer in our comfort zone… but miserably uncomfortable. We now find ourselves in limbo – in a space that no longer works effectively for us. But at this time, we might feel overwhelmed and threatened by the thought of introducing change!
If we are not living & developing, we are withering. It doesn’t matter how big or how old the sequoia is in the forest – if it stops growing, it is dying!
Like a lobster, we need to be continually shedding our skin so that we can continue to grow! Are you continually uncluttering your life and letting go of your old view of yourself?
We sometimes reach a point where we have to face the consequences of “staying here”.
Is staying where I am more frightening than moving into the unknown? Am I genuinely happy here? – or do I need to find a new way to connect with my heart’s desires – with my passion, purpose, and inspiration?
Fear is a construct of your mind – a human response that has been passed to us through our DNA – effectively working to keep us safe and secure. Better the devil you know than the dread of the unknown.
Stretching outside your comfort zones should not be done simply for the purpose of saying you are beyond your comfort zone. Instead, the purpose of stretching is to reach your full potential!
The choices before you
If you’ve decided you want to move beyond your comfort zone, you have three choices:
- climb over the razor wire
- move the fence
- get rid of the fence altogether!
From personal experience, I can tell you that climbing over the razor wire can be terrifying. But sometimes it’s necessary.
At other times, the best choice is simply to move the fence! Expand your comfort zone and make it a whole lot bigger.
The final choice – and perhaps the one that most terrifies us, is no fence at all! This doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to have a space in which we are most comfortable and at our very best – but rather that there is no longer an arbitrary line that keeps us locked in.
Choosing opportunities – identify your vision and values
In order to know in what areas to expand your comfort zone, you need to have your values and vision identified. This creates the opportunity to be the best version of you – a human becoming!
The person that will change your life is you! You can choose whether you want to continue playing small.
- What do you want?
- Why do you want it?
- How will you get it?
What do you want to have? be? do? create?
“Are you motivated? Are you coherent? Is your intention aligned? Are you feet, tongue, heart & wallet congruent? That intention shines through.”
― Peter Guber
Use fear as your compass
Like any other emotion – fear can be resourceful or unresourceful. How will I choose to use my fear? Will I allow it to be a compass that shows me what I hold dear? What is important to me?
Fear allows us to identify what we need to work on in our lives – it tells us “walk through here”. Even though we want to avoid it. Fear tells us “this is important to me”. So yes, it is uncomfortable!
When the time comes for you to make a change or to grow, the universe will make you so uncomfortable you will eventually have no choice.
You have already envisioned – What do I want? Now it’s time to focus – what do I want to do?
But the only way through is through it!
You will have to move – face the fear. That’s the moment to stop sabotaging yourself and seek to confront fear.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
— Marcus Aurelius
We all know that it takes time and effort to effect change – do it anyways. Expand that comfort zone – so that it includes something new. So that your reach is wider than it was before.
Support moving forward
Start by looking at who is supporting you. Have you got the right network of people that will ask you the questions to get you focused on your next move?
- Which members of your family or friends can provide you with support and help as you move through this?
- Do you have a mentor or coach that will ask you the right questions
- Do you have a professional adviser to turn to when you lack information?
And then choose – to climb over the razor-wire fence, to move it, or to do away with it altogether!