You’ve heard all the quotes about comfort zones, including these...
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” - Neale Donald Walsch
“Step outside your comfort zone because that’s the only way you’re going to grow.” – Madeline Brewer
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” – John Assaraf
I’m not saying that I disagree.
Ok – when it comes to saying that life doesn’t begin until after we’ve stepped out of out comfort zone, I do actually disagree. There's some serious hyperbole there.
But what I’m trying to say is this: It’s not so simple.
We have a comfort zone for a reason. It’s safe. It’s easy. Heck, it’s comfortable!
As many quotes as we see about getting out of our comfort zones, there are plenty that never see the light of day:
I never do anything out of my comfort zone. – Danica Patrick
Wait. If Danica isn’t getting out of her comfort zone, why should I?
Well, ok, there are reasons… like I want to expand the offerings in my business, or I want to get better marketing results, or I want to (gulp) dare to try to sell something. Yes, there are absolutely reasons to step out of our comfort zone.
If we want to grow, change, improve, and get the thing we want that we don’t have right now, we're going to need to do something different. And if it’s different, it’s outside our comfort zone.
Ok, got it.
But the part that no one addresses is what I want to get to here:
HOW do we step out of our comfort zone?
And I’ll give you the answer that I have found for myself: Step out of your comfort zone strategically.
Especially if stepping out of your comfort zone is a scary thing, bring some calm focus to the experience by being intentional about it.
Get clear on:
- WHY are you stepping out of your comfort zone?
- WHAT do you want as a result or stepping out of your comfort zone?
- WHERE and in WHAT WAY will you will step out of your comfort zone?
I don’t think we pay enough attention to that last one: Exactly WHERE will you step out of your comfort zone?
Because I’ll tell you what I’ve experienced: The best way to beat myself back into my comfort zone is to step out without a plan. I get all willy-nilly about it, things get a little crazy, and it is decidedly not a good experience.
If you know what I'm talking about, then the answer is NOT to step out of our comfort zones in a multitude of directions all at once. There’s no plan when we do it that way and that means there’s no clear, positive result.
Instead, stepping out of our comfort zone should be like this:
Pick a direction and step out…
and then step back into safety.
Breathe. How did it go? What worked? What did you learn?
Then step out again in the same direction.
And then step back into safety.
Inquire again: How did it go? What worked? What did you learn?
This is the exact process I used when I started doing video.
I went Live on Facebook for the very first time. It was terrifying!
But then I stepped back into my safety zone. No one said I had to ever do that again. So… how did it go? And honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared it could have gone. I didn't completely embarrass myself and I didn't die.
So I thought about it for awhile… and then did the same thing again.
And then I did it again.
Just a few years later, I go Live regularly on Facebook. It's not easy, but it is decidedly inside my comfort zone.
When you take this approach for stepping outside of your comfort zone:
Pick a direction
Step out strategically in a specific direction
Step back in
Repeat in the exact same direction
...you GROW your comfort zone, expanding it intentionally, which will enable you to reach even farther.
Ok – yes, what I’m saying isn’t for everyone. There are some people that thrive outside their comfort zone… like maybe outside of their comfort zone is, in many ways, inside their comfort zone. Good! Go get ‘em. You do you.
But if you thrive inside your comfort zone… if rest and calm is what keeps your core warm… it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t step outside your comfort zone. It means that you need to be strategic when you do so.
When you step out of your comfort zone with intention and repetition, it can be incredibly powerful. It’s easier to replicate and it’s easier to see results.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.” – B. Dave Walters
2 thoughts on “What They Don’t Tell us About Our Comfort Zones”
Yes. Excellent advice. It has to be a positive experience to be out of your comfort zone, or why would you ever do it again? You have to do it with a plan and the plan has to include how you’re going to save yourself if it goes poorly. If it goes poorly, you go back to your comfort zone, find a new plan, and let yourself start over. If you go outside your comfort zone and get overwhelmed without a plan, you just made your comfort zone smaller!
Love your comment, Sara! You’re so right — without a plan, you can actuall make things worse. Great point!