In this blog we will unpack 3 things you need to know about comfort zones, and 3 ways to make a force great enough against them to move, comfortably, into a little uncomfortable.
Our experiences in our lives, all the stuff that we choose to do, falls in one of three areas:
A comfort zone
A challenge zone
A panic zone
Comfort zones are a world-wide concern. A quick google search will turn up striking numbers!
Typically, every human defaults to their comfort zone. It’s kind of looks like Isaac Newton’s laws of motion.
An object at rest tends to stay at rest…
That’s how we operate. We stay in our comfort zones. We remain there until the other half of Newton’s law kicks in.
… until a force comes against it.
Science supports it.
Early in the 1900’s two psychologists articulated the concept of comfort zones. Robert M Yerkes and John D. Dotson described a “state of relative comfort”. They were studying performance levels, and discovered that the comfort zone promotes a steady, consistent level of output. They also noticed that there is a decreasing productivity level over time with this steady output.
There is a very good reason why we don’t venture outside of our comfort zones. We become emotional.
Comfort zones are emotional.
Most of us don’t make our best decisions when our emotions lead us.
Here’s how it might look: We get an amazing idea. It’s totally a reach, but we can see it in all its glory in our mind. Yes! We can stretch and grab it and run with it. We’re gonna fly! But in the end, we reached too far too quickly, and it all crashed and burned. For me personally, there was collateral damage on a couple of these.
I recently asked my online friends about their comfort zone boundaries. Those places that you bump up against and you STOP.
Talking to strangers verses traveling to new places.
Their answers are interesting. One answer deals with up close and personal situations, the other answer deals with exploring the unknown. According to this informal poll, as humans, we are 3 times more likely to go to unknown places, where we have less control, than talk to another human being, someone just like ourselves.
It’s an emotional comfort zone that obviously feels very threatening.
How did we, as relational beings, get so uncomfortable with each other? Well, I’m not a psychologist, nor a sociologist, but it seems to me it’s a wounded heart issue (and a topic for another day).
Whatever your comfort zone boundaries, they get emotional when we stretch too far outside of them, and especially when we fail. We, as humans, appear to have lost our ability to process failure from a healthy perspective.
Failure is an interesting obstacle which we can make work for us.
When we can’t process fear appropriately, we become too fearful of future risks. The fear of failure becomes like a prison cell, keeping us confined to what we know, what is predictable, what is safe.
These are all emotional responses to our circumstances. There is a downside of this dynamic is that emotions, while real, are not an accurate gauge of reality.
One way I’ve learned to process failure is to consider what would have worked better. Get the wisdom out of that thing and bring it forward. Too often we don’t take the time to reflect and process. We get slimed with the shame, disappointment, and let those negatives seep into our identity. It leaves us with self-doubt and an unproductive sense of identity.
Successful people process the failure, get the gold, and move on. Let’s be successful people!
2. Comfort zones are baked into self-doubt.
Once we fail, self-doubt kicks in. It will take a considerable force to come against that emotional fear and our self-doubt in order to force us to move outside our comfortable places.
Self-doubt is an identity issue. We are powerful beings. We are capable of managing our emotions, our attitudes, and our actions. Self-doubt is a red flag indicator of an identity issue.
Self-doubt is also a red flag indicator of a lack of vision for our lives.
We lose confidence in our abilities when forget who we are and what amazing skills, experiences, and intelligence we already possess. We spend more time focusing on our lack, and that starts a negative spiral, which as we saw with Isaac Newton’s law of motion, will continue until a force comes against it.
Instead of focusing on what we lack, we can focus on what we have. Taking time to dream into the next season of our lives (post self-doubt) well infuse us with hope. Once we hope, we can begin to strategize next steps to take to get some traction and move forward.
3. Comfort zones shut the brain down.
It sounds crazy scary, but according to Inc Magazine, Yale research has published research that shows your comfort zone will switch off your your brain.
It affects mental performance, physical performance, and prevents us from developing better skills.
Gosh! All those hours in the gym and you’ll never get any better? All those hours on the golf course, the tennis court, and the soccer field, all for nothing?
It reminds me of an old T.S. Eliot quote.
It’s brain exercise.
Mix up your morning routine.
Work on puzzles: jigsaw, scrabble, crossword or suduko.
Read different kinds of genre.
It’s physical exercise.
Make it fun.
Find an exercise friend.
Start slow and set some weekly goals.
In sum, here are 3 great action steps.
1. Drill down on the emotional comfort zone. What are you feeling? Why? Drill down as far as you can and then begin to rebuild.
2. Figure out your identity. You are created to have purpose, fulfillment, and abundance. A strong foundation in your identity is your starting point. If you need help, reach out or consider our online course.
3. God gave you a brain, so use it. You manage your thoughts and your actions. They don’t manage you.