Personal and professional growth can only come when you stretch your comfort zone. So, if your relationship with your own comfort zone is at a “best friend” level or higher, then you are sabotaging your own growth potential.
Let me share a recent story about my own experience with my comfort zone. The night before Mother’s Day my daughter was washing and drying the comforter. As we were all quietly going about our own activities, we heard the loudest, most obnoxious screeching coming from our mudroom. I knew immediately that sound was coming from our dryer. At this point I have one of 3-choices:
- Call someone to come out and fix it
- Buy a new dryer
- See if I can fix it.
I am not the most mechanically inclined individual so the thought of tearing apart the dryer to “fix it” was not in my realm of something fun I looked forward to. This was clearly out of my comfort zone. Never-the-less, early Sunday morning I had the entire dryer taken apart.
I’ll save you specific details but ultimately, I had to replace the motor. We now have a smooth, clean, and quiet “old” dryer! To get there, I had to be willing to step out of my comfort zone. So how did I do that? Here are the steps I took and the steps you can take for yourself to push your comfort zone to new levels and drive the growth.
5 Steps to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
1) Awareness: Know exactly what your comfort zone level is on tasks or activities you have been pushing to the side. How far do you need to stretch yourself?
2) Understand: Once you know where your comfort zone is, identify the why. That is to say, understand what specifically it is about the activity that is uncomfortable for you. For me and the dryer it was the uncertainty – what if I can’t take it apart? What if I take it apart and can’t fix it? What if I can’t put it back together?
3) Decide: Make the decision to stretch your comfort zone. This may seem self-evident, but it is the number one reason people do not move their comfort zone. When you make a clear intentional choice, you are also making an internal commitment to yourself.
4) Reason: Identify the reason you would WANT to move your comfort zone. For some that may be the outcome achieved. For others it may be to avoid the negative consequences. For me it is the challenge. I love challenging myself to try something I have never done before to see if I can do it.
5) Fear: Finally, you will have to overcome your fear, which is the underlying issue. A really good way to work through that is to think “what’s the worst that can happen?”. In my dryer example the worst-case scenario is I either break the dryer or cannot fix it. Which would leave exactly where I was starting.
With those five steps, you can step out of your comfort zone, or reframe that, and create a new comfort zone. You’ll gain massive benefits: confidence, learning, pride & achievement just to to name a few.