Reaching Beyond the Comfort Zone
A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.
Each of us has our own “comfort zone” which, more than an actual place, is a psychological/emotional/ behavioral construct that defines the routine of our daily life. Being in one’s comfort zone implies familiarity, safety, and security. It describes the patterned world of our existence, keeps us relatively comfortable and calm, and helps us stay emotionally even, free from anxiety and worry to a great degree. Creating a comfort zone is a healthy adaptation for much of our lives. But so is stepping out of our comfort zone when it’s time to transition, grow, and transform.
Your comfort zone is a real place to exist, but it likely won’t prepare to handle some of those curve balls life is going to drop on you like an unwelcoming family guest at the dinner table we haven’t set a place for.
Anxiety improves performance until a certain optimum level of arousal has been reached. Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained. In order to achieve “Optimal Anxiety” we need to push outside of our comfort, but not too much.
Though according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, feelings of safety lies only in the second line, it is a pretty powerful and a strong reason for wanting to stay in our comfort zone.
We feel safe =We stay alive.
Our comfort zone is always the sweet spot, but if we want to achieve optimal performance, we have to step outside it just a tiny bit, but not too much.
Very simply, what we fear most about challenging ourselves is that we may fail and/or get hurt. But most of us have the ability to rise to the occasion, overcome hurdles and obstacles, and actually succeed in accomplishing something new and challenging.
Here are 5 huge benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone:
1. Your “real life” is out there waiting for you.
2. Challenging yourself pushes you to dip into and utilize your personal store of untapped knowledge and resources.
3. Taking risks, regardless of their outcome, are growth experiences.
4. Don’t settle for the mediocre just to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone; it’s too big a price to pay. Your challenges and risk experiences are cumulative. Every time you try something new, and allow yourself to be open to whatever experience arises, you are learning, and expanding your repertoire of life skills and self-knowledge. As you do this you also expand the size of your comfort zone.
5. Leaving your comfort zone ultimately helps you to deal with change—and making change in a much better way. Life transitions are all about change. Each time you transition you move to another level. Inevitably, these life transitions transform you.