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.

Doable Change

Of Course I Can!

Of Course I Can!

Ever wonder how to get started? How to shift a dream into motion? How to convert an idea into positive action?

The world is full of people in transition; people who want to change some aspect of their lives or to pursue a vision. Many, however, are unsure of how to proceed. Others too easily accept the status quo, resigning themselves to live unfulfilled lives. Then there are the daring; individuals who are committed to making change in their life but not quite sure about the first steps to take.

Sure there are countless self-help books, motivational speakers and support groups that offer ways to effect change. And often, these resources are constructive. In many cases though, the more you read and the more you listen to others espouse what you should do, the more complex the process of change becomes.

I believe in keeping matters as simple as possible. In that vein then, I’ll demystify the challenge of change and offer one easy action. (And yes, there are other actions.)

Dispel the “I Just Can’t” Belief

Everywhere you turn there are characters, our ego included, that work very hard to convince us that we are incapable of getting what we want. Words like “limits,” “boundaries” and “can’t” are frequently placed in front of us. Unfortunately, many people accept these words as insurmountable barriers.

Viewed positively, these obstacles can be seen as opportunity to eliminate a limitation and in its place, introduce choice and affirmation. Sure there may be some sacrifice involved, and self-discipline too, but once you acknowledge the “you can’t” voices as mere challenges to overcome, you are already making progress toward your desired outcome.

Granted, some limitations do exist: human beings can’t fly. Yet when you choose to believe you can and there is conviction, the door to change begins to open. Just look at the above photo!