“Excuse me, comfort zone, I need to get through because I know success is just beyond here.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just tell our comfort zone to step aside and open up a world of new skills, new solutions, new goals, and limitless potential in our business?
We all have that space we retreat to that is our comfort zone. It is the autopilot of just doing the same things day in and day out, yet somehow, we tell ourselves that we should expect a different result because we “tried harder today.” I hope that, if you are reading this, you have read some of my other articles and know I strongly believe that having the right mindset is a key ingredient for a successful business. I also hope we can all agree that, if we want to have success in our business, our personal lives, or anywhere, we have to step outside of our comfort zone.
Those of us that have a partner, or a significant other, had to get outside of our comfort zone for that to happen. Starting your business required you to get outside of your comfort zone. For some, that meant making an uncomfortable investment, and for others it might have meant forgoing a steady paycheck that came every two weeks no matter how much we hated the job.
Any success you have had required you to do something you didn’t previously know how to do, and that is uncomfortable. To be able to walk, we had to get outside of our comfort zone. I could go on and on here.
What I have seen is that most people (past me included) don’t know how to get out of their comfort zone. We think we have to just rip the band-aid off, jump across this wide chasm, or face the scary, massive fear head-on.
But look back on your successes, and I challenge you to find a time where you went from zero ability to mastery in one big leap. When you learned to walk, you didn’t just pop up from crawling and head outside to go for a run. When you met your significant other, you didn’t walk up to them and ask for their hand in marriage. Expanding your comfort zone does not require nerves of steel or the ability to just do something that terrifies you.
The key is to take small, intentional steps pushing up against your comfort zone. It could be the discomfort of asking a question when you are not sure and overcoming the fear of looking stupid. It could be using new technology and trying things without thinking, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
It’s testing; it’s being playful; it’s being willing to fail that allows for our comfort zone to expand. Let’s talk about the process of expanding our comfort zone to allow us to reach the idea of success we have set for ourselves and our business.
Before we do that, let me clarify. The comfort zone is not a bad thing. We need it to rest and recharge. We need that comfort zone to give us a place to retreat to when things get a little too scary. We are trying to expand your comfort zone here, not obliterate it.
The challenge with our comfort zone is that most of us stay there way too long and hide. We decide our story is our story and it can’t be changed, and our comfort zone is fixed. We don’t have the power to move it, so we default to complaining, blaming, making excuses, and commiserating. If you are not willing to make a different choice and change your story, no one else will do it for you, and the rest of this article will not help you.
But if you are ready to change your story and you feel like there is more for you, then let’s figure out how we can trigger an expansion of your comfort zone. It is that feeling of realizing there is more for you that is crucial to recognize. That should trigger some movement through several levels, pushing beyond your current comfort zone. In fact, I tell people it should trigger “getting comfortable being slightly uncomfortable.”
Into the right zone
We have already discussed in detail the comfort zone. What we don’t realize is that what keeps us there is the fear zone. The fear zone is the barrier that we create with our stories. “I’m not smart enough, I’m not good enough, I have not been given the same opportunities, my parents did this, my relationships made me this way, etc.”
It is all the stories we create to hold ourselves back so we don’t risk getting outside of our comfort zone for fear of getting hurt, physically or emotionally. Fear creates all of the stories holding us back and when we are pushed to deal with that fear, even in the smallest actions, those stories of fear surface and turn into excuses. It is important to remember that these are just stories we tell ourselves, and they can be rewritten.
It is crucial to push past the fear zone. There are several techniques we can use to do this, but one of my favorites is to just act as if. When the fear shows up, just thank it for its concern, then change the story to act as if. “What if I were smart enough, good enough, had been given the same opportunities, got the support from my parents, or was in a supportive relationship? How would I act then?”
Next, take that action and see how it feels. Now you are in the learning zone. Getting to the learning zone is the leap we need to make. We need to blow through fear and start learning. This is why we don’t need to make huge leaps. Small, intentional steps can lead to significant growth. It’s about embracing the discomfort of not knowing and using it as a catalyst for learning and growth.
The great news is that the learning zone catapults us into the growth zone as long as we are willing to fail, but actually reframe failure as a learning opportunity. The growth zone is where our purpose is waiting for us, and in this zone the actions you take make time seem like it is standing still. You could do it all day because you are stacking success upon success.
If you have clarity on your reason, clear goals, and a review cycle mindset, it will feel like your comfort zone doesn’t even exist. Everything feels safe, and you are willing to try things, be comfortable as a business owner, and seem like the guru that you truly are deep down. This is where we can truly start to see the fruits of our labor.
Let’s just recap: the comfort zone is a place of rest and recharge, though it can also become a place of stagnation if we stay there too long and don’t also recognize it as a jumping off point. It’s essential to recognize when we’re getting too comfortable and to challenge ourselves to step outside of this zone.
The fear zone is a barrier that we create with our stories. It’s filled with self-doubt and excuses. But these are just stories, and they can be rewritten. By recognizing and challenging these fears, we can start to move toward the learning zone.
The learning zone is where growth happens. It’s a place of discomfort, but it’s also a place of exploration and discovery. It’s where we learn new skills, try new things, and start to see the possibilities that lie outside of our comfort zone.
Finally, the growth zone is where we find our purpose and start to see the fruits of our labor. It’s a place of achievement, fulfillment, and success.
Expanding your comfort zone is not about making huge leaps or facing fears head-on. It’s about taking small, intentional steps. It’s about embracing discomfort as a part of the learning process and using it as a catalyst for growth. It’s about rewriting the stories we tell ourselves and moving toward our true potential. So, step outside your comfort zone, embrace the discomfort, and witness the remarkable expansion of your business.