March 1st, 2015

How to step out of your ‘comfort zone’

Would eating snails put you outside of your 'comfort zone'?

Would eating snails put you outside of your ‘comfort zone’?

One mantra I use is “ Do something that scares you everyday” This has got me into some tricky situations but as you will see today, it is the size of the risk that is important.

Are you sitting comfortably? Or, maybe standing up at a new standing desk that is supposed to increase your health and maybe your lifespan? What surrounds you? Who surrounds you? What are the activities that you feel happy to do? Those that bring up fear?

Today we are going to look at your comfort zone. Where are the boundaries? How far do you need to stretch outside this zone to achieve the goals you set for yourself? Where is your limit? Where is the line that flips you into the panic zone? How can we support ourselves to move beyond those behaviors that we habitually do?

Comfort Zone

Let’s look at your comfort zone. Who was it that said, ‘if you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always got’? Definitely, a wise person.  Yet we all do it. We all continue to define what is acceptable behavior by how comfortable we feel with it. These behaviors are normal, everyday and sanctioned by those around us.

Some continue to live with physical battery, emotional battery, bullying and harassment because that is normal to them. When they try to move on, they are flipped out of their comfort zone into a world that is so different that it creates an anxiety more powerful that the suffering they experienced before. In my experience support from friends, coach or counsellor is needed to stay in this unfamiliar place.

Task 1: List 5 of the major areas that show the limits of your comfort zone. Pay attention to those feelings that make you anxious. These are the activities that are asking you to move outside your comfortable, usual activities. Is it, “Not drinking alcohol at a social gathering? Refusing a dessert at a family gathering? Making a speech in public? Doing a presentation to a Manager? Saying no to harassment and speaking up about bullying? Perhaps it is turning up for a training session in gym clothes? Swimming in a bathing suit?”

If you have ongoing anxiety and you can’t pinpoint the reason or if you often flip into panic in a big way, there may be a need to go and talk to a professional counsellor or see your Doctor to get specific help that is beyond this program.

Task 2: Now that you have 5 areas that are within your comfort zone, pick the one that is the least scary and write down one risky action you could take, one that would be a little uncomfortable but wouldn’t push you into your panic zone. For example, with making a presentation, could you film yourself doing the presentation, make the presentation to family and friends first, ask a colleague who is good at this activity to mentor you?

Setting a public deadline and making yourself accountable to others works well, but writing down the action and putting it in your diary also works. Repeat this step until it feels natural. Don’t make it a big goal, just baby steps pushing the boundary of your comfort zone until this new behaviour feels natural.

This week we have been looking at what is keeping us stuck and how we sabotage ourselves through examining our values (Day 1), becoming aware of our ‘mindchatter’ (Day 2) and now looking at our comfort zone. Tomorrow we examine how our friends and family may be guaranteeing that we stay right where we are.