What is the “comfort zone” exactly?
Why is it that we tend to get comfortable with the familiar and our routines, but when we’re introduced to new and interesting things, the glimmer fades so quickly?
I remember when Social Media first came on the scene. I instinctively knew it could have a profound affect on the way we communicate and interact with one another. Given the Internet was the engine that powered the change. My learning kicked in. Was it uncomfortable? Yes! Was it worth it? Yes!
Imagine life without it…Imagine the innovations of the last 20 years.
Remember when the big clunky mobile phones came out? We had to learn some new things?
How about email back in the mid 90’s? Did you have to learn a new technology?
Some of you may remember further back with the fax machine. Did it take forever to produce a 1 page document? Technology is changing…rapidly, and those who fight it will be left behind. According to IBM we process more information in one year than our forefathers did in a lifetime.
All these were introduced into our work environment. It created stress. Did you embrace it or fight it?
Simply, your comfort zone is a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security. You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress.
The idea of the comfort zone goes back to a classic experiment in psychology. Back in 1908, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson explained that a state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance In order to maximize performance, however, we need a state of relative anxiety—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal.
This space is called “Optimal Anxiety,” and it’s just outside our comfort zone. Too much anxiety and we’re too stressed to be productive, and our performance drops off sharply.
The idea of optimal anxiety isn’t anything new. Anyone who’s ever pushed themselves to get to the next level or accomplish something knows that when you really challenge yourself, you can turn up amazing results.
More than a few studies support the point. However, pushing too hard can actually cause a negative result, and reinforce the idea that challenging yourself is a bad idea. It’s our natural tendency to return to an anxiety neutral, comfortable state. You can understand why it’s so hard to kick your brain out of your comfort zone.
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
– Brian Tracy
1. DO DAILY THINGS DIFFERENTLY
I remember our youngest son Bryce challenging us to eat something different years ago. That’s when I got into sushi. Who would have thought? Now I love it, but I must have it with some spice so that’s where spicy mayo comes in. Spice up your daily things!
- Take a different route to work.
- Try a new workout routine.
- Read a different book.
- Turn off the TV for an hour.
- Make a new friend.
- Shut off your phone for???
I know…that’s a hard one. Right?
Sometimes we need to get back to being more focused and simple.
2. DREAM BIG DREAMS – BHAG
Remember when you were a kid, you could be or do anything. Right?
Life has a way of stealing our dreams, but it doesn’t have to be.
Refuse to compromise on your personal dreams.
Think in terms of possibilities.
The first form of courage is the courage to dream big dreams and to set big goals. This is where most people are stopped. The very idea of setting big, challenging, exciting, worthwhile goals is so overwhelming that they quit before they even begin.
But this is not for you. Sit down, write out your goals as if anything were possible for you, and never be afraid to dream big dreams.
It seems that failure tends to be more public than success. Or at least that’s what we perceive it to be. We fret it, we try to avoid it, and we question ourselves every time we have unconventional ideas. But the simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure.
It may be one epic failure. Or a series of failures – such as Edison’s 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb or Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a bagless vacuum cleaner. But, whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams.
GO FOR IT!
3. FACE YOUR FEARS
Overcoming fear is essential to your success. The future belongs to the risk-takers, not the security seekers. Life is perverse in the sense that, the more you seek security, the less of it you have. But the more you seek opportunity, the more likely it is that you will achieve the security that you desire.
Get away from negative people, people who are always pointing out the reasons to be insecure and afraid to stop worrying. Control your suggestive environment carefully, and especially your human environment, if you wish to become the exceptional person you can be.
One of the most powerful techniques ever developed to overcoming fear, stop worrying, and relieving stress is what one of Brian Tracy students called the “worry buster.” Many people have come back and said that this simple method has changed their attitudes from negative to positive and enabled them to be more effective in their work and their personal lives than they had ever thought possible.
You need the courage to turn toward danger continuously. Identify all the fear situations in your life that cause you stress or anxiety today. Decide what the worst possible outcome of each of these situations might be.
Resolve to accept the worst, should it occur. And then take action to resolve each of those situations. Refuse to allow a fear situation to remain in your life, dominating your thinking and emotions and holding you back.
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
4. WORK IN COMPLETE SILENCE
It’s no surprise, then, that our culture is hostile to silence. Everywhere we go, it seems, we’re confronted with some kind of noise—whether it’s background music in stores and restaurants, cars and airplanes going by, or something else.
And when we’re alone, we often find ourselves habitually looking at our phones. Just take a look around others when you are at a restaurant. We’re always ready to fill the emptiness.
WHY BEING WITH SILENCE IS IMPORTANT
However, the ability to be with silence is critical to getting our work done efficiently and enjoyably. My sense is that, for most of us, our work requires us to spend large amounts of time focusing on a single task in silence.
Although phone calls and e-mails come in occasionally, the bulk of our time is devoted to working on that report, making the sale, a presentation, or other creative project.
f we haven’t learned to tolerate quiet, we get jittery and distractible, and find ourselves putting off our work to avoid the experience. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi puts it in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, “unless one learns to tolerate and even enjoy being alone, it is very difficult to accomplish any task that requires undivided concentration.” But when emptiness no longer bothers us, we can hold our attention on our task with little effort.
PHASING OUT SELF-DISTRACTIONS
How do we get accustomed to silence? One useful exercise, I’ve found, is to start eliminating all the ways we create background noise in our lives outside work.
- Shut the door to your office
- Shut off your music
- Unplug the internet
- Turn off your phone.
Just focus on doing the most important thing you can do today while enjoying the silence.
Silence is your treasure. Do not exchange it for an easy life.
5. LEARN SOMETHING NEW
How long has it been since you learned a new skill?
There is a rule that says:
“Whatever got you to where you are today is not enough to get you any further.”
What this means is that your current level of knowledge and skill has been sufficient to enable you to achieve your current income and standard of living.
But for you to improve your income and your standard of living, for you to move onward and upward, you must learn and apply the new skills that are essential for professional and personal growth.
There is no other way to get ahead except for you to become better at what you do, continually throughout your life.
There’s another rule that says:
“For life to get better, you must get better.”
The good news however is that there are no limits to how much better you can become.
Therefore, there are no limits to how much more you can change your life, if you have the determination and the discipline to do so, every single day. Every day, in every way, you should be looking for ways to change your life and increase your personal knowledge.
Learning something new creates some stress. Fear of the unknown. What will other people think? Will I fail at this.
- Have you wanted to learn a new Social Media Platform? Take action. Start
- Have you wanted to learn a new language? Take action. Start
- Have you always wanted to play a musical instrument? Take action. Start
- Have you always wanted to learn a new skill? Take action. Start
- Have you always wanted to run a marathon? Take action. Start
In the final analysis, a person who takes a single action as the result of a new idea or insight is far more valuable than the person who learns a hundred ideas but does nothing.
Most people never get where they want to be in their life, their career and their finances because they stop at places that appear to be comfortable.
The survivors in life and business refuse to settle for “comfortable” and are always reinventing themselves, pushing the edges, trying new things, making new investments and swinging for the fences. The survivors are always attacking the market for new clients and new territory, using new social media platforms—they’re never satisfied with the status quo.
In the end, remember: Keep your mind open to change all of the time, Dale Carnegie advises. “Welcome it. Court it. It is only by examining and re-examining your opinions and ideas that you can progress.”
Blair Evan Ball is a Social Media Coach and founder of Prepare1, a company that works with businesses, individuals and non-profits. He is a former executive with a Fortune 50 company, and his national division did $1Billion+ in sales annually.
Blair has written three e-books: Facebook for Business Made Easy, Facebook Pages for Business Made Easy, and WordPress Blog Setup Made Easy.
Blair also educates, trains entrepreneurs and business professionals how to amplify their brand, increase revenues, and raise more funds.
The Race is ON! | PREPARE | Get into the Game and WIN!