“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – William Shedd
Comfort zones are mental barricades that provide a sense of safety. They are developed and sustained by gradually limiting ourselves based on our perceptions about our abilities, potential, power, and our sometimes false or misguided ideologies of the “possible” or “rational”.
The comfort zone can be thought of, metaphorically, as a bubble that shrinks or expands based on three factors:
As time progresses, we go through a countless number of experiences that give us the opportunity to either shape our fears, face our fears, or break our fears. Our fears hold authority over us because everything that we choose to do or not do is based upon a fear that we will either fail miserably, or succeed significantly.
Nobody wants to fail miserably, but who would be afraid of succeeding? Oftentimes, it is not the success that people are afraid of, but rather, the anxiety that comes during the process of completing something that may lead to success. Take a perfectionist like myself for example: I often procrastinate with the excuse that whatever I’m working on is not “good enough”. The reality may be that I’m finished, but I’m anxious about how others will perceive the finished product. Will they realize and applaud the effort and creativity that went into my product or will they overlook it as if it never existed?
It’s natural to be uncomfortable about situations where the outcome is unpredictable. Whether you fear success or fear failure you must not let that fear paralyze you into immobility/inactivity. Progress must be made.
One good way to make progress is by doing something that is completely new to you or stepping outside of your bubble or comfort zone. Experiencing new things can help you increase your creativity, enhance your awareness of yourself and your surroundings, and these are all key skills in succeeding in your professional career as well as your personal life. Try to do something you would usually be uncomfortable with doing, or something out of the ordinary for yourself. Try to do these things often, maybe once a day for an entire month and document your experiences.
Here are some thoughts to be cognizant of when stepping outside of your comfort zone:
1. Be courageous: You might be afraid, but do it anyway.
2. Become fascinated by what you don’t understand rather than fearful of it.
3. Chart your progress.
4. Concentrate on your strengths to achieve your goals.
5. Do not let your fear and doubts become your limits and walls.
6. Forget fear.
7. Learn more about yourself as an individual.
8. Life is a culmination of experiences, collect as many as you can.
9. Never waste time.
10. Take advantage of life’s opportunities as they are presented.
11. Take calculated risks.
12. Test your boundaries in order to grow.
13. Understand who you are in order to realize your purpose.
“The more fears you face the more you will grow.”