In self growth, when we say that you’re comfortable, it means that you’re not really growing, you’re not stretching yourself or taking the effort to grow from where you are currently at. Moving outside of your comfort zone is, most usually, uncomfortable but there are some ways that you can achieve it; identify your growth goal, discover what’s needed to stretch beyond your comfort zone, and identify the specific part of your comfort zone that is going to be stretched. Start working on your goal.
When we talk about “comfort zones” in self-help, we’re not talking about the temperatures between 67 and 75, or wherever the comfort zone on your thermostat lies. But that comfort zone is a good starting place, actually.
When your home air conditioning or heating system is set within your comfort zone, you’re not even aware of it. It kicks on and off, and you don’t even hear it because you are so accustomed to it. You feel … comfortable. You’re not too hot, you’re not too cold. If someone asks, you’ll say, “I’m comfortable,” but you won’t notice that you’re comfortable. That’s part of the definition of comfortable, I think, and if it’s not then it should be.
In self growth, when we say you’re comfortable, what we really mean is that you’re not growing. You’re not stretching yourself. You’re satisfied where you are, and not making any real effort to move forward out of that situation.
When you’re in your comfort zone, you may think about growth, and you may have goals for growth. But you’re not growing. You’re staying in one spot. It’s like being curled up on your favorite corner of the sofa when the air conditioner is just right. You’re comfortable, and often complacent.
Moving outside of your comfort zone is, by definition, uncomfortable. But it’s also the only way to grow. You’re not going to get stronger in, for instance, developing new relationships if you only spend time with people you’re already close to.
Yes, it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, but I have three steps for moving out of our comfort zones and growing:
1. Identify your growth goal. Let’s say you do want to develop some new relationships. That helps you set up your goal. You want to meet three new people and develop ongoing relationships with them over the next six months.
2. Discover what’s needed to stretch beyond your comfort zone. What particular part of this would be uncomfortable? In this case, if you’re nervous around people, you’re going to have to reach out and try to get past your nervousness. You’re going to have to meet people, and if you want three new relationships, you may have to meet 20 or more people to get what you want.
3. Identify the specific part of your comfort zone that’s going to be stretched. In this example, your comfort zone is going to be stretched in the area of being okay with the relationships you have. You’re going to have to stretch and make new relationships.
4. Start working on your goal.
Those are the things you need to be aware of and understand. Now you need to go out and start developing those relationships.