The Comfort Zone

Where life is easy.

We all have a comfort zone. It’s that place where everything just feels right. You know what I mean. It’s a place where you know what to do. It’s a place where you know what to expect. It’s a place where nothing threatens your security or well-being. You wake up singing. Each day promises more of the same.

Photo by Grzegorz Lobinski

That’s the way life is supposed to be. Right?

It’s your goal for each day to make sure that you stay right in the center of your comfort zone.

 Wrong!

If your life focus keeps you in the comfort zone, you forfeit any possibility that you will fulfill your potential. You will never become the best you possible and you may actually become worse.

When in your life did you grow and thrive?

Think about the times in your life when you were definitely not in your comfort zone. They were probably the most exhilarating times and the ones in which you stretched the limits of your abilities and became better and stronger. You may have hated them at the time but now you remember them fondly. Life was exhilarating.  Maybe it was going away for college. Maybe it was a new job. Maybe it was a new relationship or a commitment like marriage. Maybe you volunteered for something without thinking about how you could get it done. Or maybe you got pushed out of your comfort zone by forces that you couldn’t control and you coped, grew and thrived.

Struggle makes everyone grow.

When you are stretching, nothing is comfortable and familiar. You improvise experiment and flounder. You learn. You improve. You rethink. And all the while you are changing and growing, even when you may not accomplish the original objective or feel like a success.  The problem is that we are programmed for comfort and we will do whatever it takes to get back into a comfort zone, either the one we left or a new one we create at the new level we achieve. Either way it is a continuing struggle to move away from a comfort zone and into the unknown.

The Comfort Zone is a dead end!

My point with this observation is that when we are feeling comfortable and secure, we are going nowhere and maybe actually backing away from somewhere. We are accepting no challenge to the status quo, changing nothing in our lives, learning nothing new and taking no chances. Yet it feels so uncomfortable to do something new and it is so hard to stop changing course back to what feels good.

The problem with accepting your comfort zone is that it is only comfortable in the present. It will not take you to the level you need in the future and it may result in a future that is quite uncomfortable.

It’s a hard job to push yourself into new and uncomfortable territory when life is so comfortable where you are.  When have you pushed yourself out of a comfort zone?  And how did you grow as a result?

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Long Huynh May 27, 2009, 6:53 pm

    Ralph,

    I will tell you a story:

    “There was a general leading his troops to attack the enemies on the other side of a river. He has tried every tricks in the book, from sneak attack in the night to camouflage his boats as merchant ones, all to little avail. The enemies were just so well positioned. Needless to say, the morale of his troops is very low.
    After a sleepless night thinking and strategizing, at dawn the general asked his troops to have a full meal, then burn off everything (food, shelters …) except their weapons. To ensure no turning back, he also gave instructions to the captains of the boats to execute once they passed the half-way mark of the river crossing.
    As the troops approached the half-way mark, it became clear of the foolishness of the general: a plain sight attack in daylight against a well defended force. His soldiers became restless against this suicidal attempt, some began to urge the captains to turn the boats around. The captains ignored the pleas and at a given signal, sunk a hole in their boats, small enough to carry the troops to the enemy bank but large enough to quash any thought of retreating. Once realizing that there was no other viable options left, the troops gave a rallying cry and rowed ahead with all their might.”

    Yes, there were heavy casualties. And yes, they reached the other side and achieved the mission.

    I hope that you find strength to sink a hole in your “Comfort” boat and reach the “Fulfill Your Potential” river bank.

  • Ralph May 27, 2009, 8:17 pm

    Thanks for the comment. It’s exactly on target.

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