Want an adventure? Break free from your comfort zone

Stepping outside your comfort zone is an art, it requires practice, dedication and will power. Nobody likes being uncomfortable, but there is a certain consensus in the self-development arena, that you have to step outside your comfort zone in order to grow as a person.

 ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’

Neale Donald Walsch

This is a fascinating concept to explore; in this article I invite you to join me on this exploratory trip where we will get uncomfortable by stepping outside our comfort zone. But before we do that, let’s first familiarize ourselves with the concept. A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one size-fit-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned with is keeping you inside of it.

Your comfort zone is warm and cozy, but comfort kills

A lot of people will have a natural inclination for staying inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled,  first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped-up in their little cocoon, preferring staying warm and cozy.

The only problem with this is that even if you have a strong desire to stay warm and cozy forever and have no inclination to do more than is absolutely necessary, sometimes life doesn’t give you that choice. Say for example that you are perfectly happy doing your day to day job. You wake-up every morning feeling perfectly content to go to the office and do the tasks that you have been very comfortable doing for the past 15 years, surrounded by a pleasant boss and nice colleagues. At the end of the day you go home, cook dinner, relax in front of the TV with the family, before going to bed. You wake -up the next day and you do the whole thing again desperately waiting for the weekend to have some fun and some rest. You can’t get more comfortable than that. There is nothing wrong with this until one day you show up to work to find out that the office will be close next month because of some force majeure event, never to re-open. This is where your life starts feeling very uncomfortable, and before you know it you are in a total state of panic. That safety zone where you cocooned yourself for the past 15 years has just vanished with no warning.

This Is Your Quest by Joanne Reed
Comfort Food – Photo by Viktor Taashuk on Unsplash

Feeling uncomfortable reading this? Fasten your seat belt, it is going to get more uncomfortable. I told you this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.  Now, let’s take a trip down Comfort-Food Lane. There is a reason why comfort food is called that. It makes you sloppy, it turns you into  a couch potato, a blob and it is totally addictive. Comfort food is enjoyable to eat and fills you with a sense of contentment in the moment, although it may not be very good for your health. So, your philosophy in life is that there is nothing wrong with affording yourself a little treat from time to time; you start with a treat here and there, and before you know it your treat is turning into a daily habit. Years later, your bad eating habit is causing you serious health concerns leading your doctor to put you on a strict diet where no treats are allowed. Now, you start feeling very uncomfortable, so much so that it makes you feel even sicker with worry.

“Nobody ever died of discomfort yet living in the name of comfort has killed many ideas, more opportunities, more actions and more growth than anything else combined. Comfort kills.”

T. Harv Eker

Be fearless, step outside your comfort zone

Fear is a valuable thing, it keeps people safe and encourages caution when caution is due, but fear can also be a limiting factor, because not everything you are afraid of should be really feared.  Statistics show that a vast majority of people work in a job that they don’t really enjoy but they stay there because it pays the bill. A lot of us have some secret ambition to develop our true passion into a lucrative business; but few people will take actuals steps to pursue their dream because of the fear of failure. My take on this, continue to work your day to day job and work on your dream as soon as you step foot outside the office.

If it works, then fantastic, you will be one of the few people who turned their dream into a reality. And if it doesn’t work, then you would have learned some additional skills that you can make good use of in your next venture, and those new skills may even help you do your normal job better. So, instead of spending hours going brain dead in front of the TV every day, step off your comfortable sofa and into your home office to work on your dream each and every day until it becomes a reality.

As soon as you step outside your comfort zone, you enter into the realm of personal development and greater achievement where you will learn how to stretch yourself, push your limits, discover your hidden potential and become the best version of yourself and doing more than you ever thought possible.

This Is Your Quest by Joanne Reed
Feeling at home – Photo by Steven Feldman on Unsplash

Stepping outside your comfort zone will help you grow, but it is important that you do it properly; be mindful of not putting yourself in a situation where  you will push yourself to do something that falls way outside your comfort zone to the point of jeopardy. There is a fine line between being courageous and being stupid.

So, let’s take a comfortable walk with Professor Andy Molinski  who is a professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University International Business School and the author of ‘Reach: A new strategy to help you step outside your comfort zone, rise to the challenge & build confidence’.

According to Molinksi there are 3 zones when it comes to comfort. The first one is the comfort zone, where you are in a familiar situation and you are experiencing very little anxiety. The second zone is the stretch zone, where you are experiencing some level of anxiety but at a point where you can turn it into motivation and good productivity level. The third zone is the panic zone where you are experiencing extreme level of anxiety and where you are feeling completely overwhelmed.

Molinski stresses that the optimal level of discomfort is in your stretch zone. It is important to understand that comfort zone is a subjective concept, and each individual has to understand their tolerance to discomfort.  Humans react to new situations differently, it is very possible that what one considers to be their stretch zone might be another’s panic zone. There are several factors that will help you determine your tolerance level, such as your values and interest, your personality and tolerance to stress. The key is to understand how you work. You need to know yourself. Having that kind of insight relies on a great deal of self-awareness and if you are unsure, the only way to find out is to experiment.

Want to change the world?

Does wanting to change the world make you step outside your comfort zone? Yes and No. To conclude this exploration trip, I would like to take you to China where we will follow in the footstep of a young Chinese man who was consumed with the desire to change the world.

The Man Who Wanted to Change the World

This is the story of an ambitious young Chinese man who on this 20th birthday became consumed with the desire to change the world. He spent the next 20 years trying to do that but couldn’t.

At age 40, he settled for trying to change China. He spent the next 20 years trying to do that but couldn’t.

At age 60, he settled for trying to change his village, and for the next 20 years, he tried to do just that, but failed.

At age 80, he decided to focus on changing this family, so he spent the next 20years trying to do that but couldn’t.

At age 100, he decided to focus on changing himself. After all these years, he came to realize that by changing himself first that would change his family, then his village, his province, impacting his country and ultimately changing the world. But the next day. He died.

Be the Change you want to see in the world

And this, my dear friend is your Quest.

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11 Comments »

  1. Wow, that’s fabulous dear. I am so glad you invited me to your blog. Your blog is awesome and I loved reading your stepping out of the comfort zone. I think yours is very well explained and easy to follow.
    Thanks again my friend Joanne for inviting me. Would you like to give me a favor?

  2. Wonderful article, Joanne! Thank you for explaining the comfort, stretch, and panic zones. You are so right – we do need to live the majority of our lives in the stretch zone. It may not give us a warm fuzzy feeling, but it is the right thing to do!

    • Thank you Laurie for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. Yes, operating within the stretch zone is definitely the right thing to do. Asking a sedentary person to step outside their comfort zone, pack a rucksack and go climb Mount Everest is definitely not the way to go!

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