Why It’s OK To Stay Inside Your Comfort Zone
Why It’s OK To Get Comfy Inside The Box & Stay Inside Your Comfort Zone
Let’s be honest, some days we just want to say, “nah,” and stay home.
It’s so easy to get caught up in being busy, weighed down with self-criticism and pressure to grab at all we perceive we’re missing in life.
The endless list of things ‘to do’, ‘to be’ and ‘to have’ exhausts your spirit, doesn’t it?
We’ve all been in that moment when we question what we’re doing with our lives and I bet you’ve said:
“Oh, if only I had more money!”
“Oh, if only I was 2 stone lighter!”
“Oh, if only I could be more like her!”
“Oh, if only I could do this, that and the other!”
The ‘if only’ list seems to hang over you, like a reminder of all the things we aren’t or haven’t got. We’re perpetually taught that this ‘if only’ list should be treated as our ‘to do’ list.
In this era of vision boards, mindset and personal development, with social media awash with motivational quotes about how much better life could be, it’s not hard to see why so many of us feel as though we’re stuck in the pit of underachievement.
Wake up! Push harder! Think bigger! Believe to achieve!
And definitely watch out for your Comfort Zone - that’s a total dream killer… You've only got to do a Google Image Search to get the message.
Yes, it’s pretty hard to just stand still, be present and enjoy the moment. Yet, I wonder if the people that do have actually figured it all out.
Apparently, it hurts us to stay in our Comfort Zone and yet, let’s be honest, don’t we spend most of our efforts and money on actually trying to create surroundings which make us feel all comfy and cosy?
Only then, we’re shot down and told it’s no good to feel satisfied and at peace… well, at least not until you’ve achieved passive income via your Apple Mac from your beach house whilst sipping smoothies in your designer lifestyle.
Ironically, whilst everyone’s Holy Grail is being content and happy, it seems so elusive when you’re being fed messages of ambition and aspiration the entire time, doesn’t it?
We treat satisfaction as a final reward for ‘making it’ when we achieve all those things we don’t yet have.
I'm nervous to create controversy here but much of my personal growth, my most productive days, and improvements in my self-esteem actually seem to happen inside my Comfort Zone. It’s precisely when I feel most comfortable that I feel I have the best foundations to build, create and grow. I feel I’m more receptive to embracing anything new when I’m feeling at ease, rather than nervous, overwhelmed or fearful, outside of my Comfort Zone.
Does being in your Comfort Zone mean you stagnate, that you can’t or won’t learn or grow? That you’ll never be like the Instagram girls? The media certainly tells us that’s the case and that we must change who we are to be better and to have more. We applaud million-pound turnovers, are wowed by gains of 100k followers on social media and swoon for hours as we scroll enviously through the most attractive profiles.
The carrot is forever dangling for us to race after.
But what about the mum who simply managed to get out to catch up with her friends this evening?
Or the one who joined an MLM and has a few extra quid in her pocket for treats for the kids?
Or the new parent who prepared well and save enough money to have an extra month off with her baby before returning to work?
Or she who manages to shut off work on Sundays so she can enjoy more time with her family?
Or the mum who chooses to leave her job to stay at home and raise her children?
That may not be newsworthy but where are these people?
Oh yes, it’s US!
We’re not as celebrated for our small wins, but still, does that mean you aren’t really achieving success, that you’re not truly happy, that you’re missing out?
So what is the Comfort Zone, actually?
For some, it’s about a ‘make do’ attitude, a trap with limiting boundaries about our self-belief. It’s a diminished version of who you could be, a place where your talents fester and you won’t ever improve.
For others, it’s a safe, protective space of peace, confidence and reassurance. It’s a mental place of contentment and predictability.
In either definition, our Comfort Zone is a sort of filter, sieving out the things which make us feel, well, uncomfortable.
But do you have to dive into the deep-end to learn how to swim? Do you have to jump out of an aeroplane to learn to love heights?
It’s trendy right now to be seen to be trying harder, aiming higher, to feel the fear and do it anyway.
And I do see their point.
How can you expect to improve at anything if you don’t try? It’s often entirely necessary to attempt something new in order to learn a new skill.
Let’s take learning to drive. Most of us felt at least a little nervous on that first lesson but you wouldn’t have expected to head straight to the motorway. Success was probably incremental, built from slowly increasing confidence and practice within a safe environment.
In the same way, the Comfort Zone is a safety cushion, the harness in case we should fall. It’s a way of ensuring we can quickly get back on track.
It’s perhaps why many people choose stay working at least part-time before throwing themselves into a new business, or moving house but not too far away, and so on. Some say it’s about fear, others say it’s about responsibility.
Stepping outside your Comfort Zone seems to now equate to opportunity and proof of your commitment and vision.
Yes, there’s a place for working on your weaknesses; our education system teaches this ethos and it’s not without merit. Later, however, we discover the joys that outsourcing difficult tasks can bring us - more time, better results and greater satisfaction.
For example, in my business life, working with an accountant and bookkeeper helps my businesses without me having to take the burden and discomfort of managing complicated financial information outside of my expertise. It allows me to enjoy focusing on growing my business in the ways I’m best at. I’m a big believer in working with your strengths.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you won’t ever encounter challenging situations or opportunities in life, regardless of how hard you fight to avoid discomfort. You will, of course, and you’ll learn from the experience in one way or another, but not everyone will thrive outside their Comfort Zone.
My partner, for one, would go into meltdown. She finds technology frustrating. So, if I stuck her in front of my computer and told her to produce something using an unfamiliar programme… and then I added a deadline… she’d shut down at such a daunting prospect.
Then she’d kill me, probably.
Does this mean that she shouldn’t bother trying to master a new skill?
No but just like the rest of us, she needs certain conditions to succeed. For her, it’s reassurance, encouragement, support and time.
Your Comfort Zone might be seen as a set of conditions you need to give yourself the best chance of success.
Want to be a better public speaker? Get coaching and make incremental improvements before sweating it out in front of a room full of millions.
Start by focusing on what you can do rather than on what you can’t.
Would I be a better photographer if I went to work for a huge multi-national fashion brand? Honestly, being quite so far outside my Comfort Zone in about a bajillion ways would probably terrify me into never picking up a camera again… gulp!
There’s so much pressure to grab these ‘golden’ opportunities. We fear we’ll otherwise miss out on our ticket to success. If we decline, it perpetuates our belief that we’re not cut out for it. Perhaps we just don’t have the guts or power to change. Is this a familiar feeling?
Well, I really believe that this isn’t true. It isn’t a one-size fits all.
But if I haven’t managed to convince you that your Comfort Zone isn’t just some stagnant place for those who lack courage, then I may as well tell you about a book I’ve recently actually really enjoyed on Amazon Audible. It’s called, ‘The Discomfort Zone’ by Farrah Storr.
Farrah presents a really compelling case for making the trip outside your of your Comfort Zone to experience discomfort for the good. It’s honestly a great read if you tend to run away from opportunities and believe it’s this that’s truly hindering you. In fact, I listened on Audible (multi-tasking working mum right here)!
Can great things come from stepping outside of your Comfort Zone? Of course!
Are you a person who responds well to pressure or is motivated by the thrill of a challenge? You might be one of those that actually needs a fire under your behind giving you an incentive. You may love the excitement of venturing into the unknown. And you may not discover any of this about yourself until you’ve got out of your Comfort Zone.
In that regard, it’s worth a shot and I simply can’t argue otherwise. After all, how will you know unless you’ve tried, even when it’s scary and uncomfortable?
"It’s the taking part that counts."
"Shoot for the moon and if you fail, you’ll land among the stars."
"At least you tried."
A great many successful people will indeed describe how they overcame their fears, took huge action, failed multiple times and then made incredible breakthroughs. For some, it’s a great strategy for taking them to new heights.
My point is purely one to balance things out a bit and stand up for those of us who wish for another way to grow. A way that doesn’t make us feel written off, left behind or less valid.
Why does trying or learning something new have to feel uncomfortable for it to be of any real value in helping you to make worthwhile progress?
Am I attempting to justify surrendering to our fears? Am I absolving us from the hard work our brave non-Comfort Zoners are prepared to tackle? No. I’m saying that being outside of your Comfort Zone is not the only way to improve, build, learn and grow. As I see it, if you don’t manage things well for yourself out there, it can leave you feeling miserable and mediocre.
I’ve written about the sense of when your life doesn't turn out the way you imagined in a previous post. I see so many people feeling deflated with even their best work and efforts.
They are disappointed to reach for and miss the magical version of themselves.
I know that many are unable to see the gentle contentment that our lives might already be offering. Are you brave enough to be happy with who you are and what you’ve got?
I want you to realise you're enough and that you hold the power to be happy and successful. It’s within you, not out there.
Rather than looking at everything you aren’t or don’t have, bring into focus the things that truly matter. Take note of the things for which you are grateful, however small. You might find your true definition of success and happiness changes the shape of your goals. On a dessert island, survival aside, who and what do you really want and need there with you to be happy?
We so frequently talk about our perfect lives in the future tense.
Maybe, instead, you might start to take heart from defining your Comfort Zone and examining what’s inside it. You may well have the nucleus of your perfect life right here, right now.
And if you still want to head outside of your Comfort Zone in search of a different perfection, just be sure to don your comfiest walking boots and pack a rucksack full of support from your zone to take with you on the journey. I really hope we see each other again at the other end!
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Sittingbourne | Kent
A whimsical, fairytale, daydreamy kinda girl... and a photographer in Kent, UK.