Last week we looked at how we help you, in the office, expand out of your comfort zone. This week I wanted to look at the comfort zone more mainly because it’s where we all spend time, some more than others. We live in the comfort zone not necessarily out of conscious choice but out of habit. And just like any habit, it’s good to have a look now and then to reassess whether the habit is working for you or against you.
The comfort zone exists because we need to feel safe, at least some of the time. It is also a place where we stop ourselves from moving, thinking and feeling too much in order to avoid fear. In our bodies, physically, we will hold our bodies tight to make sure we don’t injure ourselves. In our comfort zone we will avoid situations that may result in us feeling hurt or betrayed. And mentally and socially, we will sacrifice our true nature in order to fit in. We avoid rocking the boat, saying yes when we mean no and thinking with the masses instead of thinking freely.
The catch with the comfort zone is that what we do to protect ourselves eventually becomes our prison. And that’s not a problem if you think that life is about self-preservation, where your only goal is to stay alive and survive.
However if you want a life of self-realization, your goal is not just to stay alive. Your goal is to thrive, be happy, feel fulfilled and contribute to the betterment of others. If you were to imagine a time when you’re no longer here (it happens to all of us:)), what do you want people to say about you? How do you want to be remembered? I’m asking these questions because most of us live a life of self-preservation but desire a life of self-realization. And you can only have one or the other.
It’s normal for anyone to spend time in their comfort zone. I’m not saying that we need to constantly be striving to break out of our comfort zone. There are seasons and cycles to life and sometimes it’s time to break out and sometimes it’s time to rest and enjoy your accomplishments.
When I reflect on my life so far, I see that most of what I have accomplished and most of what I am truly grateful for and blessed with are things that I did or received when I stretched out of my comfort zone.
And really when you think about it, those are the things that you remember and treasure the most. If you want to be happy and fulfilled, you have to be willing to be afraid. Maybe you’re reading this and in the back of your mind you hear a voice saying that you don’t deserve to be happy or that it’s not the perfect time to make a change or that it’s too difficult. If something like that is happening, then welcome to the club!
Here’s some homework for you:
- Identify your comfort zone: physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. What are the ways that you protect yourself?
- How much energy do you use and how much time do you spend being in your comfort zone?
- How can you challenge yourself to stretch out of your comfort zone? Hint: Do something that you have never done before or do something that you keep putting off doing.
Let me know how it goes!