Hey! Let’s take a minute now and think if we really can grow in the comfort zone, and if you are still in your comfort zone, what is it?
To me personally, as I was an introvert growing up, I always refrained from trying anything – I used to go to school, come back home and repeat. See – there is no room I gave myself to grow.
I was subconsciously keeping myself from doing anything I definitely was capable of.
Please read the quote above – so these are going to be some key elements of this blog – when you talk about creativity, you talk about new ideas, new perspectives, innovations, trying out things, etc. – which can rarely happen if you never think outside your comfort zone. Once you understand the need to step of it and that comfort zone is a subconscious state of mind, you are exposed to so many new perspectives, new experiences (you may love some, like some and dislike some), but you will find your calling, and realise what you actually real want (personally and professionally). And this needs you to conquer your fears .
Now, let’s talk a little bit about the comfort zone itself and what it actually is?
The phrase ‘comfort zone’ was coined by management thinker Judith Bardwick in her 1991 work Danger in the Comfort Zone.
A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person, and they are at ease, and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress.
And all of us know that’s not how life usually is. So let’s focus a little bit on this diagram here, which shows 4 zones, namely the comfort zone, the fear zone, the learning zone and the growth zone.
So when leaving the comfort zone, fear doesn’t necessarily equate to being in the panic zone. As the below diagram shows, fear can be a necessary step in order to go to the learning and growth zones:
Now, comes the most important point, how would you go from comfort zone to the fear zone? The answer is : Courage.
In fact Courage comes first. Courage is the secret ingredient which lets you act despite your fears. Courage gives you the ability to put aside your fear of failure and take the first steps. Courage helps you overcome the fear of rejection and attempt things that you have not tried before. Confidence is the outcome. It takes courage to step from the comfort zone into the fear zone. It’s very normal to be anxious while doing so, yet it would be so rewarding when you enter the learning zone, this is where you learn skills, deal with new challenges, and gain the confidence as a result of those activities.
After a learning period, a new comfort zone is created, or your own comfort zone is extended. And when you see yourself setting new goals for yourself, celebrating something (even a small achievement of yourself), you are in your growth zone. There can also be some behavioral changes you feel along the way and it’s important to be self-aware of how far you’ve come 🙂
And I personally find this diagram extremely accurate. I have been through all the stages of it.
- Comfort zone – My regular life until the day I wanted things to change. Going to school, coming home and repeat.
- Fear zone – When I thought how to exactly change and the efforts required. And i feared the outcomes if things went wrong
- Learning zone – When I acted on what I had planned previously and was experiencing things myself (for eg, my solo trip, some of my internships), and I still continue to be in the learning zone as you learn new things every single day.
- Growth zone – I think I am in the growth zone right now, because I believe you grow as you learn. So for me, the comfort zone has expanded and I consider myself somewhere in the intersection of learning and growing, which always go side by side in my opinion.
Why should we step out of our comfort zone, or why expand it? Right.
There are a few key reasons for that; Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s (2008) work on mindsets marked a paradigm shift in the field of positive psychology. According to her, a mindset is a self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves. Dweck’s educational work centers on the distinction between “fixed” and “growth” mindsets. According to Dweck, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. Alternatively, in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.
The second point is that expanding your comfort zone will make you stronger and more resilient as a person, who is able to tackle new challenges, you tend to be more adaptable, even when life becomes unpredictable.
It also helps a lot with self-efficacy, which is, as mentioned by Albert Bandura (1997), the belief in being able to execute necessary actions in service of a goal. Leaving the comfort zone means a phase of trial and error, during which at least some level of success is inevitable. Experiencing this success builds our self-efficacy, with belief in our ability starting to grow.
New opportunities and experiences – it allows you to gain new experiences, improve your skills and take advantage of opportunities for professional and personal growth.
For many, self-actualization acts as a powerful incentive to leave the comfort zone. Self–actualization is the complete realization of one’s potential, and the full development of one’s abilities and appreciation for life. This concept is at the top of the Maslow hierarchy of needs.
How to come out of your comfort zone can be quite subjective, but a few things that personally helped me are :
- Also, sometimes it’s okay to sit back and relax in your comfort zone, recharge yourself, give yourself a little break.
- It’s important to identify what are the areas in life (or bottlenecks) where staying in your comfort zone is doing more harm than good. And once you have realised that, make use of that intuition and make the changes you think are required.
- Obviously it’s very important to take small steps, and celebrate the little wins, they also give you the courage to take a slightly bigger step the next time, set goals, prioritise so that you are not in panic or anxiety driven situation, communicate, talk to people you trust (or talk to me if you want) about your problems, success, etc., ask for help anytime you need it.
- And always remember that your subconscious mind determines your comfort zone and it’s you who can control it, not the other way around. Our brain is extremely malleable and we can shape it however we want.
If you want to listen to me speaking about this topic – feel free to do so 🙂
Link : https://youtu.be/vJJCXgt4FDY
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