I have been watching myself struggle for some time now with my biggest barrier to success – getting out of my comfort zone! And I’m really not liking what I am seeing. I see myself doing things that I have always done and watching the returns diminish. And then seeing myself do those same things again. And watching the returns diminish some more. Until there is virtually no progress.
The allure of our comfort zones
It’s strange really. We all know that we need to be doing different things because – as we all know – nothing changes if nothing changes. But we don’t. I don’t think that we are particularly afraid of failure. Or that we don’t know what exactly is to be done, in order to progress forward. But strangely somehow, despite the knowledge and the lack of fear, we just don’t go ahead and do those next, progressive, different things.
Here are some examples!
Let me give you an example from an entrepreneur’s life…Most entrepreneurs recognise the need to market their product. And most consumer businesses, especially with non-technical founders start simple…with Facebook. It’s easy, it’s simple and it’s visible and it gets results. But over a period of time, the returns diminish. The likes get more expensive and no one is buying. Yet we continue to spend on Facebook, instead of looking for more complex yet high-return marketing channels. Why?
Or let’s try a health example…Most of us have tried to lose weight in the past. And the one thing we try to do is more cardio, which in our books, translates to more treadmill. And after a point, it simply ceases to work. Yet we slog away at it, dripping sweat! We know that we need to up the game. To shift to strength training and exercise in small doses to build bone density and maintain muscle mass. But do we do it?
No, because that would mean, moving out of our comfort zones. And here’s what I have realised! Here. Is where our comfort zone is! There. Is where the really good shit happens! And most of us, love the comfort of our comfort zones. No pun intended.
So, what is a comfort zone?
Most psychologists agree that ‘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. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible’.Basically familiarity. Comfort. Knowing what to expect!
Evolution-wise, humans are designed to do things to minimise stress. Stay in the comfort zone. Where all is familiar, known and you won’t get eaten by anything large & hairy with many sharp teeth!
But then, some stress is good. And that too is a medically proven phenomena. I guess, the trick is in knowing how much stress is good for you and how often. I’m also guessing that we’re not too good at judging that, given our currently stressed out state of affairs!
How do I move out of my comfort zone?
Knowing that you’re in your comfort zone and that you’re reluctant to move out of it, is the first step. You can’t be aware that you’re aware unless you’re aware, right?