Comfort zones are strange psychological oddities. They exist, but they are hard to pin down. Here is a comfort zone summary: In each of us there exists a psychological boundary. As long as we behave within the confines of that boundary, in other words, inside the zone, we feel by definition, comfortable. When we venture outside of the boundary, we feel uncomfortable.
Think about waking up and brushing your teeth. Are you challenged? That behavior has become so ingrained into your personal morning routine that you probably don’t even think about it or remember doing it.
Now, think about having to give a 30-minute presentation to the board of directors of your company. Are you palms starting to sweat yet? In the former example, we are well within our comfort zone while in the latter, well on the outside of it. The question before us is how do we expand our comfort zone so that a behavior like speaking in front of the board of directors is just as easy as brushing our teeth?
I have been training and coaching on comfort zone expansion for many years, and I’ve come up with 4 behaviors that will get you outside of your comfort zone so that you too can experience the joys associated with continued success.
Before I give you the behaviors, let me cover a few axioms that should sell you on the idea as to why you want to get your comfort zone to expand. (Keep in mind the expansion (or contraction) of your comfort zone is totally up to you. It is a decision that you need to make and that you need to follow through on. No one can do it for you!)
- Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do! Face it, the reason people become successful is because of achievement! They have a bias toward action.
- Successful people are people who reside at the edge of their comfort zone. These are the people that volunteer to take on that tough client, head up that tough project, chair that committee that no one else wants to. Don’t get me wrong, they are nervous and doubtful of their abilities and are afraid, but they do it anyway. Why? Because they are hardwired for success.
- Successful people are people who begin to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. These are people who are consistently on the edge of their comfort zone, thus they got use to it. Now, taking on the tough assignment is second nature to them.
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy
So, as you can see, success and stepping outside of the boundaries in which you feel safe and secure are really the same thing. Success comes to those who say they have the courage to try something new; something different.
How do you develop a bias toward action and stepping outside of your comfort zone? Try these 4 behaviors:
1. Do the same thing you have always done, only do it different
Take a different route to work. Try a different place for lunch (or at least something different on the menu). Use a different treadmill at the gym. Take a different route on your evening run. Get the idea? Take a different spin on the same old – same old.
2. Do the same thing you have always done, just do more of it
So, you wake up at 5:30 and run a mile? Good for you. Try waking up at 5:15 and run a mile and half. Is that too much of a change? No problem. Take 2 weeks to just wake up at 5:15. Spend a few extra minutes getting use to that time. Then start your mile and a half run after the 2 weeks of getting up 15 minutes early.
3. Stretch yourself; challenge yourself
But don’t venture so far outside of your comfort zone that you lose hope and get demotivated. If you have never exercised before, don’t expect to spend 3 hours at the gym your first day. (I love working out, but if I ever had to spend 3 hours at the gym, even after all these years, I would probably join the kingdom of coach potato!) Go slow, but go steady. No one says that you need to go a mile outside of your zone. Try venturing out an inch, then another inch, then a foot, and so on.
“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.”
4. Celebrate your victories
Congratulate yourself on your little successes. There is nothing so demotivating as to tell yourself that you will celebrate after victory, but never have a solid definition of success to gauge your celebration against.
If you begin to practice these behaviors and do so on a daily basis, you will begin to become aware of the fact that you are living on the edge of your comfort zone. You are trying new things that frighten you but are relishing in the exhilaration of those exciting new behaviors.
Richard Branson said that if our goals don’t scare us, they aren’t big enough. The way you determine bigger goals is to step outside of that land that is safe and secure and venture out into the wilderness of that frightening land of discomfort. Soon, you will claim that land as your own and it will be comfortable.
You may ask, what should I do then? That is, when I have attained comfort in doing what I felt uncomfortable doing in the past? The answer is simple: Keep going!
What is a big goal you have for yourself which you want to accomplish by the end of the year? Let us know in the comments so we can all encourage each other!
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