Leaving Your Comfort Zone
Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -A.A. Milne
At some point in our lives, we do everything for the first time; therefore, accepting challenges and failures is a part of stepping out of our comfort zone.
We all have a comfort zone, that space within which we feel safe and in control and where things come easy for us. You benefit in obvious ways because there is little to be afraid of or worried about, and there is a low risk of failure or rejection or any other unpleasant experiences.
However, the problem with living life in our comfort zone is that there is little, if any, room for growth and learning. Development and growth come only from venturing beyond the fear zone.
To be at our personal best, we need to grow beyond our comfort zone. Notice the image below where the next growth stage past the comfort zone is the fear zone. We need to move through the fear zone with what psychologists call “the optimal anxiety.” Think of optimal anxiety like a rubber band. If it’s unstretched, it is not performing its function. It will snap and become unproductive if stretched too much (too much anxiety). If it’s stretched just enough, it will produce its best results.
In this image, the comfort zone is the red circle. If we stretch just the right amount, we will move through the fear zone into the learning zone.
When we make it to the learning zone, we can acquire new skills and deal with challenges and problems more effectively.
However, it’s the growth zone that is transformational. Staying long enough in the growth zone helps us grow at multiple levels. We may increase our resilience by conquering obstacles to create a pathway that makes it easier to follow our dreams. We may also experience a sense of meaning by investing time in something that matters to us. The growth zone is the bigger picture, which we have gained at a more fundamental, personal level. Entering the growth zone is the ultimate reward for enduring the fear zone.
Reflect and Journal
Grab your journal write about the following questions. Reflect on your day or the past few days. Be as specific as you can.
- Thinking about your own life, is there something you desire that will require you to step outside your comfort zone and into the fear zone? Or, is there something that you would like to do, but fear is holding you back from doing?
- What do you experience when you step outside your comfort zone into the fear zone? List as many signs as you can. How can you address your fears?
- What are you missing out on by staying within your comfort zone?
About Terri Altschul
Terri Altschul is an ICF Professional Certified Coach and the Founder of WomenConnected.net. She is devoted to guiding others to their inner knowing through depth coaching, visual journaling, mindfulness, and lots of love & bravery. Join the Women Connected Community.