Comfort Zones

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” ~ Max DePree

Those who knew me then, would say I was a relatively shy child. Even today, I am comfortable tagging myself as an introvert. A little insecurity is not a bad thing for a young person trying to find their grounding in the world. Yet overcoming initial insecurity makes one more self-confident and prepared to step out of their comfort zone. At least it did for me.

Animals in the wild have their comfort zones. A bear will return to its lair to lick its wounds or sleep the winter away. But it cannot survive for long without stepping outside its comfort zone. Unfortunately, most of us survive quite well living entirely inside our cocoons. Our lives, our habits, our thinking gets into a rut.

In an early 2012 survey of 5,000+ people, it was found that males have a larger comfort zone than females, but when broken down by ‘comfort zone types’ it’s clear that while men have a larger ‘professional comfort zone,’ women have a larger ‘lifestyle comfort zone.’

At one time, comfort zones served a purpose in our lives. But staying in that space does little to enable the growth most want to achieve now. Parting ways with your comfort zone and stepping into the world of personal expansion can present opportunities that will, in time, assist in refining your purpose. Starting small and choosing to shift beyond your limited comfort zones often exposes you to new experiences, opinions and interests.

It has been said that any challenge falls into one of three ‘zones’ – our comfort zone, our growth zone, and our panic zone. An unwillingness to move out of a panic or comfort zone and into a growth zone, is often indicative of a resistance to change. If you are open to stepping out of your comfort zone and stretching yourself, here are three suggestions:

  1. Understand the truth about your habits. They represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully. That’s how habits grow and why they feel useful. To shift from what is less than ideal in your life, you need to give up on your tightly held habits and try new ways of thinking and acting. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas.
  2. Do something weird. One obvious way to leave your comfort zone, even if temporarily, is to do something new. But a more interesting option might be to do something weird. When you choose something new you may choose something that aligns with your personality and thus, comfort. This can be limiting. Instead, choose something that is out of character for you. Something that isn’t you and the people close to you wouldn’t think that you would do.
  3. Get a partner. There are some things that aren’t meant to be done alone. It’s amazing to see how much fun it is to explore and create with an ally alongside. And since you’re no longer alone in your adventure, you can feel safe as you step into a ‘growth zone.’ Find a partner. Make it happen.

43 thoughts on “Comfort Zones

  1. nice to see you back in the game! I needed the reminder about finding the stretch, but not panic zone. Lately I’ve been feeling a little stuck, but choosing to relax, call it incubation and trusting that I will act and make changes in time. I’d love to have a partner to play and stretch, trying new and even weird things. Nice suggestion. thanks Eric!

    • Good to be back, Brad. Much catching up to do and unsure if I’ll even get current with the blogs I value and follow! Glad the reminder was timely… and the panic zone mention was intentional. Because it exists. As to finding an (accountablility) partner, I suspect you’ve got a good prospect among your current circle! Just ask. Appreciate your thoughts!

  2. I thought you must’ve died, so I almost got around to cleaning my shoes for a funeral. Thank goodness I didn’t spend any money on buying a pair of long trousers. Delighted you’re back! It doesn’t take long for my growth zone to become comfortable. I must keep moving! Keep moving! Thanks, once again Eric, for a challenge!

    • He’s not dead yet. But he wonders how dirty your funeral shoes are… Keep moving, my friend, if for little other reason other than they (you know, “they”) aren’t likely to hit a moving target. Thank you! for acknowledging the post, Bruce.

  3. Eric, love this post. I love the zones. My blog was, and still is, a growth zone for me. And I tend to believe that the friends I have made in the blogging community will not only keep me in the growth zone, but likely help me get there in other facets of my life. There is no comfort in writing, only growth. Thanks for being a part of it.

    • I’m sensing we’re both comfortable being in our growth zones, even if they don’t yield desired or sustained comfort. Personally (unsolicited), I wonder if you really need the support of our much appreciated blogging community. You are a wonderfully talented writer. A pleasure, here, to be a part of your comfortable growth, Dominic.

  4. While comfort zones are so blissful, I have left mine twice. Once when I married and second time when we moved to U.S…I know I have done this weird thing. I thought I would create another comfort zone and am trying to but it is quite challenging to step out! Just ‘new and creative ideas’ are not enough, it takes much more to really step out, a lot of emotions are involved and you feel torn between them but yes, it is achievable.

    • Bravo on leaving your comfort zones, Balroop, voluntarily or otherwise. I understand and appreciate the differing challenges that each of us have re: stepping out of our comfort zone. Perhaps some of the emotions that you experience when shifting can be used to support and reinforce your chosen action(s)! And absolutely, it is achievable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Love this Eric. My first thought is that we can face anything and do anything when someone is with usโ€ฆ.. The I realized that I did teach 27 people beginning yoga in the corridor of a high school last night by myselfโ€ฆ..
    When we step out and succeed it really does the mind and soul good! And reinforces our ability to do more and more weird things ๐Ÿ™‚

    • In part, Val, I believe this is where the rubber meets the road. Indeed it can be easier to accomplish or achieve with an ally alongside. But when we fly solo, and acknowledge our skills, abilities, and gifts – whether we’re doing weird things or not – we can see and appreciate the fact that we’ve had wings all along! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Eric, This is a great post!! I do like your ideas and encouragement in all of your posts.

    Attempting to improve myself and my future, I enrolled in a graduate school program. The financial management class I enrolled in (and am still in the thick of) turns out to accounting, algebra, and formulaic equations! GaH!!!!!!!! I have stepped out of my comfort zone into a complete panic zone and have ten more weeks to go.

    • Thanks, EQ! I appreciate your reading and acknowledging the blog. I hear and am smiling at your “GaH!!!!!!!” We (and others) know you’ll emerge from that temporary panic zone a financial wizard and feeling even better about having chosen to step into an unknown. Bravo!!

  7. Great post Eric! I am in the process of venturing out of my comfort zone right now, actually. Honestly I’m scared about it (that was what yesterday’s blog post was about…letting God do His thing) but I am also excited about the opportunity to grow as a person and see what He’s got planned. It is important as you have described in this post, to be willing to leave the comfort zone. Hope you are well, my friend.

    • I trust and hope the venturing is of your choosing and that you’re not journeying alone, Brian. I can’t help but come back to your comment with my overly simplistic reply to your recent post – simply surrender. We both know the outcome will be favorable, for you – in due time if it’s not immediately apparent. Venture on, my friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am well. Thank you for your kind comments.

      • Thank you so much for the encouragement Eric. Life is an adventure and that adventure can be pretty scary sometimes. I’m learning that more and more. But it’s an adventure so worth taking. God is going to take me where I need to be, I believe it and will trust Him to bless my choices on the way. Have a good one, I am glad to hear you are well.

    • Jadi, thank you for your thoughtful gesture in recognition of “Awakening to Awareness.” As shared on the blog’s sidebar, I have respectfully declined awards, even though they are both well-intentioned and much appreciated.

      • Eric, the nomination has no strings attached. The reason I respond to being nominated myself is because it gives me a chance to promote the blogs I admire. I completely understand your decision not to accept awards.

      • No strings attached and I completely understand. The reason I respond to being nominated myself is that it gives me a chance to promote the blogs I like. I knew you were going on one of those lists!

      • It is always bittersweet for me when the blog is nominated for an award and I choose to decline. I know the individual who is recognizing the blog is well-intentioned and has noble motives. You are kind to create time to share your perspective and in doing so, allow me to remain comfortable with my choice. Thank you for reading and publicly citing the blog’s messages. I am grateful!

  8. I love my comfort zone – it is swathed in duck-down pillows and soft lights, but I constantly seek to extend its boundaries and to jump off its cliff from time to time. Thanks for reminding me that it is time to do something weird!

    • Mary! Good to have you check in. It’s always nice to have to share your thoughts, especially when enveloped in duck-down and soft lights. ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep jumping; it’s what keeps us vibrant, learning and experiencing!

  9. Great post! I’ve been thinking about how I’ve changed since I’ve gotten older. More reserved (or resigned). Seems like I have to think through every idea now. When I was young, if I wanted to try something, I just did it. I need more of that and I’m working on stepping out of this comfort zone! Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Whether reserved or resigned your comment seems to suggest you are at peace with where you are. And if this is the case, good for you! Bravo on your willingness to step out of your comfort zone. Why not?! ๐Ÿ™‚

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