'Most Everything that you want in life is sitting just outside of your comfort zone' - Jack Canfield.
By definition, comfort zones are life situations that most of us gravitate towards where we feel safe and at ease. Regular routines and patterns minimise stress and risk. The pay-off in them is that in the short term, you enjoy normal 'happiness', low anxiety, and reduced stress. The price is that growth and most of the other good things you want in life demands you take regular trips outside of them.
The idea of comfort zones goes back to a classic experiment in psychology in 1908. Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson showed that a state of relative comfort resulted in a steady level of performance. However, in order to achieve optimal performance, we need a state of 'relative anxiety'-a space where stress levels are a little higher than normal. This is called "Optimal Anxiety," and is located just outside your comfort zone!
Sometimes life pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Something happens. You have to take an action that challenges you and makes you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes the trigger is your desire to move forward and bring about growth and change. If you want anything different than what you already have, the journey there will always take you outside of your comfort zone. Growth pushes and challenges us to face fears and doubts.
Children are inspirational. They regularly move outside of their comfort zones. As adults, we often find 'good' reasons not to do things. However, here are 5 major reasons for you rise to the opportunities and challenges that life brings and move outside of your comfort zones.
1. Being uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, will push you to achieve goals you never dreamed of.
2. Challenging yourself will help you perform at your best. When we challenge ourselves, we mostly rise to the occasion.
3. Trying new things boosts creativity. This energizes and also brings ideas for new and better ways of doing things.
4. It builds confidence.
5. It is fun and brings excitement to your life.
How to Move outside Your Comfort Zones?
Moving outside of your comfort zone is not easy but you can make it easier if you focus on what you are learning or gaining and not the discomfort. Break whatever you want to do down to smaller steps. If you are afraid to public speak and have a presentation coming up, prepare and practice with a smaller group. Do something every day to push you out of your comfort zone. Then it will not be such a shock when you 'have' to do it.
In the same way that running a marathon requires regular training, so too does moving outside of your comfort zone. Recognizing and facing fears as they come up is great training for the bigger challenges that present. Thinking about what could go right and not just about what could go wrong is often very helpful. And ask for help. People are helpful and most people want to help others grow. Reaching out can often give you the courage you need to take action. Ultimately, growth is only possible when we face our fears. When we allow fear to prevail, we block growth.
So stop making excuses and finding reasons to stay in your easy zones. Follow your dreams. Don't let them die. Always remember, consistent growth involves a commitment to life-long learning and moving out of your comforts zones regularly.