You know how you often feel confident in the “familiar?” That is, you thrive in interacting with things that you’re already accustomed to and that often feel like second nature. That’s your comfort zone!
But have you ever thought that this “comfort zone” might be inhibiting your progress? The greatest danger of a comfort zone is that it is an invisible trap. Read on to learn four reasons you need to step out of your comfort zone.
What Is a Comfort Zone?
Oxford diction defines a comfort zone is “a situation where one feels safe or at ease.” Psychologists also define it as a “psychological state of satisfaction and complacency in which there’s no inner push to do more than you’re doing.“
Let’s take a look at a writer who on the average produces content of 2000 words daily. 2000 words is the comfort zone for the writer. Therefore, the writer is trapped in this zone and fails to make any effort to push through the bottleneck, as this pace is satisfying to them.
That’s just an example. Many of us are satisfied enough with where we are in life and are not ready to stretch ourselves any further. That’s the problem with being holed up in a comfort zone.
The Three Psychological States
Humans generally have three psychological states:
- Innermost State: the innermost state is the comfort zone. In this zone, you’re comfortable and satisfied. The belief is that you’re already meeting the three basic necessities of life (food, shelter, and clothing); therefore, there’s no motivation to achieve more.
- Optimal Performance State: this zone is where your limit lies. To arrive here, you must have pushed yourself to the limit. This then takes you outside your comfort zone.
- Danger Zone: this outermost state is next to the optimal performance zone and is beyond you. Forcing yourself into this zone is likely to boomerang. For instance, if you work 9 to 5 for seven days a week in order to make more money, you’re already in the danger zone. The day you’ll break down, you may spend hundreds of dollars to offset your medical bills, losing most of the money you’ve been making.
The best zone for you is the optimal performance zone. That’s where you’ll hit the zenith of your productivity. This means you need to step out of your comfort zone, yet not go too far.
4 Reasons to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Your comfort zone hinders your growth.
Once you’re satisfied with where you are, you’ll lose the motivation and drive to move forward. There’s a saying that asks why settle for less when you can always achieve more? At this point you need to question your motivation. Only if you step outside your comfort zone will you challenge your status quo.
Your comfort zone makes you settle for less
Your comfort zone will give you the impression that what you have is the best for you. It makes you feel that a role as a junior analyst is the best for you instead of pushing you to aspire and work toward a senior role.
Little thoughts like “Why rock the boat?” make you quell your desire. Once you subscribe to that line of reasoning, you’ll never have the urge to step out of your comfort zone.
Your comfort zone makes you resistant to progressive change
When you’re tied to your comfort zone, you’ll resist all changes, whether it’s progressive or not. A good example is how employees react when they have to learn how to use a new application, especially if they have to squeeze some time out of their non-official time. Many of them will resist it, and some will even sabotage the whole idea.
But in the long run, the software may end up making their jobs easier and faster. The initial resistance is because their old ways of doing their jobs have become their comfort zone, and they aren’t ready to step out of it.
Stepping out of your comfort zone helps you reach your full potential
Leaving your comfort zone makes it easier for you to be able to go the extra mile to achieve your new goals. In fact, individuals who are stuck in their comfort zones hardly aspire higher. They see themselves as the “regular/ordinary people.” The day you decide to take difficult or uncomfortable steps, you’ll hit a gear you never knew you had.
Stepping out of your comfort zone begins with a comprehensive self-assessment. Are you where you should be in all areas of life? Is this the highest you can reach in your career? Dig deeper and chart a new course for yourself based on the results of your self-assessment. When you’re able to find the right motivation, you should be able to make it work for you.