You want change in your life but you don’t know where to start? I think it’s because you are a liar! You lie to yourself. You probably call the lies something else though, like “rational thinking”. Still, a lie is a lie.
And you know what? I think that you have a pretty good idea of where to start. But you are afraid.
Then you are like most other people – stuck. I have been there as well. For years. But I realized something and learned to conquer my fear to create lasting change.
Do you have a cozy arm chair or couch with soft pillows and warm blankets where you cuddle up to comfort yourself after a long day at work? It’s a lovely place and you need it to recover but let’s be frank – f#%k all happens from the comfort of your cozy place. The dinner isn’t cooked, the floor ain’t vacuumed and the kids are not put to bed.
Hold that thought but put it in a bigger context – your life. Do you spend your life in the cozy place? In the comfort zone?
It’s that nice warm feeling of doing nothing that challenges you and not scaring you in any way. Quite a lot of the time this is where we operate in everyday life. And guess what, operating within your comfort zone keeps you safe but it also keeps you right where you are!
Why does the comfort zone exist? It actually used to serve us humans very well in the past, when breaking a leg can be fatal due to infections, being eaten by a lion is a real everyday threat or taking a walk in the night might mean you fall into a hole you can’t climb out of staying in your comfort zone could save your life. People pushing boundaries were less likely to live long happy lives. Later in history the comfort zone served the ruling class very well also, scared people are easier to rule. But today? Is the comfort zone serving you or are you serving the comfort zone?
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” Neale Donald Walsch
I came across the above quote and it was an epiphany to me. I decided at the moment to stop giving up life because of the fear of leaving my comfort zone. In order to grow we have to challenge ourselves and this means stepping outside our normal comfort zone and after we have been outside the boundary the boundary moves and our comfort zone has expanded. Nice isn’t it?
OK, that all sounds well and good but how does it turn into action? This is quite simple actually. If a goal you want to achieve gives you butterflies because it means doing something you are truly afraid of you have a number of choices: you can give up (not you right?), simply decide to do it (like so many “gurus” will tell you) or you can ease into it by expanding your comfort zone a little bit at the time until the thing that scares you no longer seems like a biggie at all.
So example time, let’s say you are looking to get a promotion and you feel you have the background and a decent shot but you hate speaking in front of a large crowd, an important component of the new role. This fear may very well keep you from going after the promotion or it may sabotage everything if you get the promotion without addressing your fear. So what do you do?
Well, the good thing is that you know exactly what is holding you back so let’s get to work. Start by seeking out speaking opportunities in smaller crowds, ask to do presentations in your team meetings, volunteer to present your company in high school classes. This will probably be mildly uncomfortable but no big challenge. After this gets comfortable for you, step it up by asking to do department presentations and seeking larger crowds outside your work. Now you are easing into what used to be a obstacle and after you have taken a few steps, take inventory, how do you feel now, is it still to scary? Chances are it is a lot less scary and you have conquered what was previously holding you back. SCORE!
You get the idea. Create a plan of bite-size steps towards overcoming your fear.
You did things well so find them! Sometimes it’s major milestones in your development and sometimes a just a hunch.
Another cool thing about expanding your comfort zone is that it spills over to other things in your life than where you put your effort, if you seek to become a more comfortable speaker you will most likely be more confident in networking event and dating as well, not a bad side benefit.
Anything else you can do? Yes, make expanding your comfort zone a habit. At Reintegrate we believe that you are what you repeatedly do so commit yourself to pushing the border of your comfort zone little by little in everyday life.
Chat with a stranger on the bus, join a painting class, try yoga, go to a rock climbing class. Unless these are things you normally do then you are regularly putting yourself in mildly uncomfortable situations that forces you to grow and expand your comfort zone. And guess what, you’ll have fun doing it!
Now go grow!
PS. If you need help on how to memorize a speech, song, or something else read this.
[...] is what is used to explain why some people are more successful than other, it keeps people being Comfort Zone Zombies and it let’s people off the hook from taking a look at themsleves. To most people luck is [...]
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