Are you stuck in your comfort zone, just too fearful to step beyond it?
The comfort zone can be a place, a state of mind, a set of habits, where you can rest easy in knowing what you know and doing what you do without challenging it very much.
Of course, your comfort zone is comfortable but it’s not where growth and progress happen. You have to challenge it from time to time.
You have to challenge it because over time you convince yourself that the way things are is good enough. Over time you decide that the comfort zone is very comfortable. Over time you decide not to face the fear. In fact, you forget how to face your fear.
That’s the comfort zone: comfortable enough. And you get the bare minimum you need but your ability to take risks is diminished.
Pay close attention: I didn’t say your ability to try new things is diminished. It’s your ability to take risks. Those are two very different things. Trying new things that are not scary to you is not much of a leap outside your comfort zone. It’s when you have to act in spite of the fear that you get beyond your comfort zone. It’s being courageous.
Getting outside your comfort zone doesn’t have to involve major life decisions. They’re the little things that keep you from moving forward. It’s making the sales calls you need to make even when you’re afraid of rejection. It’s setting boundaries with people in your life even when you’re afraid of their response. It’s making a presentation at work or in your community even when you’re worried what people will think about you.
For me, recently it was going tubing down a river.
I know, it sounds like no big deal. It even sounds like fun, right? Not to me. When the invitation appeared, my anxiety kicked in pretty quickly. I’m not a strong swimmer and I sometimes have an unpredictable stomach. “You’re going to put me on a tube for three hours in the middle of the water and expect me to be fine with that? I don’t think so.” It was a very uncomfortable idea to me.
All of my comfort-zone talk kicked in: “What if, what if, what if? I can’t, I can’t I can’t. It’s too scary. My life will be good enough without tubing. I’ll stay in my comfort zone, thank you all the same.
Here’s the kicker: I had never floated down a river before and had no idea what it entailed, but I had already made up my mind before I had any information because of my fears and my preconceived notions.
No one told me the water was so shallow I could actually walk the whole trip and barely have water up to my neck at the deepest. No one told me it’s possible to float over to the shore and duck in the woods for a minute if necessary. In the absence of information, my mind went to the worst case scenario.
Well, I did it. I went floating. I didn’t drown. I didn’t need a bathroom. And I loved the experience. And, yes, I want to do it again.
None of this may sound like a big deal to you, but that experience changed my life in a small way. It opened my perspective just a little bit wider than it had been before the float. It made new things possible, things I’d been fearful of.
Here are three easy steps to get outside your comfort zone:
- Get as much information as you can in order to challenge your existing beliefs.
- Prepare as well as possible for your current situation and forget about what might have scared you in the past.
- Whenever possible, step out of your comfort zone with someone you trust. They will make the journey easier.
Are you courageous enough to live the life you truly want for yourself? Are you courageous enough to step beyond your comfort zone?