Ep 41: Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Play • 11 min

Your comfort zone is a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security. You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress.

So, our comfort zone, is our safe place. Whatever ‘normal’ looks like for you, whatever you're not even thinking about changing -- that's your comfort zone.

If we look at our comfort zone as a dartboard we might be able to shed a little more light on how we tuck in that comfort zone into many levels of our behavior. It was explained to me this way. The bulls eye is your comfort zone. The next ring out, is your 'Stretch' zone, the one next to that is your 'Risk' zone, and everything outside of that is your 'Die' zone.

Now I’m not talking about actual dying, but that you’ll totally die to ‘self’ and abandon your fears to do a specific task. 

Each time you move into a new zone, you have to go through a little fear, a little anxiety, because you have to think differently about yourself and what you're capable of." 

In the book ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ by Ryan Holiday, he puts it this way. ‘You will come across obstacles in life-fair and unfair. An you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming- or possibly thriving because of –them.

Where one person sees a crisis, another can see opportunity. Where one is blinded by success, another sees reality with ruthless objectivity. Where one loses control of emotions, another can remain calm. Desperation, despair, fear, powerlessness-these reactions are functions of our perceptions. You must realize: Nothing makes us feel this way; we choose to give in to such feelings. 

I’m not talking about eliminating the comfort zone, but just stretching it; bit by bit, in small increments. You see, when we stretch our comfort zone, we usually find that what we just did wasn’t so bad after all, and all the worry or stress we just put ourselves through was all really unnecessary and we just ended up with a bigger comfort zone. 

Pushing your personal boundaries and stretching that zone can help you to have a more fulfilled life, yes, but also can help you to reduce the regret you’ll have because you’re doing the thing, or things you always wanted to do but didn’t have the courage to step out and do. 

You’ll have an easier time dealing with both planned change as well as the unexpected changes that happen. You’ll find it easier to dream about the possibilities that could be your new future. 

So let’s talk about that dart board again. The first ring out was called the ‘stretch zone’, right? 

So for me, doing this podcast was considered stretching the zone. I had never done anything like this before. I didn’t have a radio or broadcasting background. I don’t even know anyone who’s done a podcast. 

But I didn’t let that stop me. I did some research and reached out to some people on LinkedIn that did podcasts and got some advice. I listened to other podcasts that helped me to understand the process and not only the benefits of doing one, but the risks of not doing one too. 

In other words, I didn’t let the ‘I’ve never done that before and I don’t know how to do it’ excuse stop me. There are plenty of things that I’ve never done before in my past that I learned how to do quite well. Every time you change a job, you’re forced to learn new things, and we expect it. And we’re OK with that. 

So why are we not OK with taking the initiative to stretch the zone and learn new things. Why is it OK to be forced to learn new skills with a new job, but it’s not OK when we choose to do it on our own terms?  

Please listen to the entire episode for all of the topics that are covered. A bit too much to put into the show notes here.

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