Although, a comfort zone can be defined as a state of mind in which people are at ease, in control of their environment and experiencing low level of anxiety and stress, this does not actually sum up the full meaning of a comfort zone. This is because different people have different anxiety and stress levels and the anxiety level of one man or woman might be above or below that of another. Therefore, comfort zones vary from person to person.
Therefore, the best way I can define a comfort zone would be a state of mind where a person’s anxiety and vulnerability are minimized to manageable levels. It is that area of your life in which you feel familiar with and in control of.
For example, some people love to go to work every morning and are used to the routine of going to work daily such that their work place becomes their comfort zone and leaving this comfort zone to become a freelancer or start a business can be every challenging for them. Of course, for others, a comfort zone could be the time they take their meals or that time after work when they relax in front of their television or with social media after a hectic day at work. Of course, comfort zones are not static because they change based on the areas of your life you feel most comfortable with.
When are you out of your comfort zone? What is outside your comfort zone? When you begin to feel vulnerable, anxious, stressed, uncomfortable about doing something, then you’re stepping out of your comfort zone or you’re faced with the threat of stepping outside your comfort zone. Therefore, what is outside your comfort zone is something that scares or threatens you, and, not necessarily with bodily harm.
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing grows there.”
The Psychological States
According to White Alasdair, there are three psychological states: the comfort zone, optimal performance zone and the danger zone. Where the comfort zone is the stress-free zone which you’re familiar with. The optimal performance zone is the zone just outside your comfort zone where your performance is enhanced by some amount of stress. The danger zone, which is beyond the optimal performance zone, is where you feel great anxiety and your performance is below the performance you can attain in your comfort zone.
However, the problem is making distinctions between these psychological states and knowing when and how far you are willing to leave your comfort zone and when to stay in its confines.
Why do you need to leave your comfort zone?
1. Stunted Growth
If you insist on staying in your comfort zone, you will probably never grow to be more than you are. That means you will always be stuck, never moving forward and never growing. Most people who become addicted to their comfort zones usually end up unable to achieve their goals because they’re somewhat obsessed with doing things the same way they’ve always done them even when it’s not producing results. As a result, you can never really explore what you’re capable of doing and what you can accomplish if you stick to your comfort zone
2. To find your Passion
Not moving out of your comfort zone makes it harder for you to discover your passion because no passion can ever be found in the shadows of your comfort zone, it can only be found by stepping away from your comfort zone.
3. To make sure you don’t settle for less
Even though you’ve not found that thing that makes your heart beat very fast (like love or passion), your comfort zone might push you to settle for less than what you could have if you just stepped out of it.
4. So you don’t get left behind
When you stay in your comfort zone, you will be left behind. Colleagues will leave you behind and people who were previously behind you in terms of life or career progress would meet up with you and leave you behind as well. This lead to FOMO or Feelings of Missing Out.
Why Your Comfort Zone is Good Sometimes
Although, many times, people focus more on the cons of not leaving your comfort zones, people sometimes forget that it might not be the best idea for you to move out of your comfort zone.
Here are some reasons why you might need to stay in your comfort zone:
1. You are not prepared to leave it yet
Sometimes, you might need to stay in your comfort zone a little while because you’re not yet prepared to step out of it and you may face dire consequences. So, you might need to make sure that you’re actually prepared to leave your comfort zone before you leave it.
2. Are you going too far away from your comfort zone?
It is true that without leaving our comfort zones, we might never know what we are capable of and what we can do. However, that does not mean that you should take giant leaps away from your comfort zone. Start with baby steps and move to strides as you successfully leave your comfort zone.
3. Assess yourself
It is very important for you to assess yourself before leaving your comfort zone to see if it is the best choice for you to leave your comfort zone or if what is bothering you is just fear of leaving it.
How to Leave or Expand Your Comfort Zone
First of all, you have to understand how the varying influences (Like parents, peers, siblings, etc.) in your life have contributed to shaping and conditioning your comfort zone. You have to overcome these influences and the conditions that have shaped the boundaries of your comfort zone. You will also have to change your habits, routines and behaviors that relate to your comfort zone and its boundaries.
But you can’t just do these overnight, you have to slowly push yourself out of your comfort zone and expand it. Here are few ways you can leave or expand your comfort zone:
- Expose yourself to new environments that are just outside your comfort zone
- Don’t overthink your decisions
- Try new and different things like going somewhere new to eat, going to a different park to read, etc.
- Don’t rely on your limited point of view, try to see things the way others do.
- Do volunteer work
- Challenge yourself from time to time
“To move to a new level in your life, you must break through your comfort zone and do things that are not comfortable.” – T. Harv Eker
Although your comfort zone might be the most comfortable part of your life, it isn’t wise to stay locked in it as it will not allow you to be who you are capable of being. And, most certainly, your big dreams and goals won’t come to pass so you need to work for them, and you can’t do that from your comfort zone.
Do you think you should stay in your comfort zone or should you push at the boundaries of your comfort zone relentlessly?