The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

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The zone Ken loathed, but couldn’t get out of: His Comfort Zone. His Jetta parked in the driveway, 3.5 feet from the garage door, sits in the same exact spot everyday. His alarm set for 5:59am, every morning. The closet a sterile representation of a life organized, but not lived.

He despised every moment that he had to walk the hall to the parking garage. The job was just a job, a place that made him hate himself in spite of being the highest paid manager in the office.

He was good at what he did but he never did more than he had to and he never claimed a promotion because of it.

Then he met Jared.

Jared knew no boundaries. He knew nothing of “sitting things out”. He was a go-getter, a tackler of norms, a beast among mortal men.

And everyone hated and admired him for it including Ken.

Jared had been nominated the most likely to die in a hang-gliding accident back in high school. Instead, he turned out to be the most successful in his class. He never turned down an opportunity to grow.

Because of his insistence to not sit still when duty called, or to learn a new language, or to work on foreign soil when the opportunity arose, Jared had seen more and done more than Ken ever will.

His salary quickly shadowed Ken’s when he came to work at Sal’s. And the potential to take their boss’ position was imminent.

It wasn’t that Ken was less capable. It was because Ken chose to play it safe and stay within the confines of his comfort zone. He chose to get up every morning and go the same route to work and make the same calls and to not do anything to jog himself into success dooming his career and his potential. His comfort zone became his blankie.

Why your Comfort Zone is your Enemy

The Comfort Zone is a means for us to live a “content” life. Therein lies the problem. There’s no challenge therefore no growth. There are no new synapses formed (which, by the way, is what happens when you learn new things and challenge yourself, according to a study at the University of Texas).

The research showed that to increase your cognitive ability, you need to do things that challenge you while maintaining a strong social network (like Jared, who knew no strangers or boundaries). Both are needed to be successful, no matter what your definition of success smells like. Sitting behind the same desk, working the same customers and prospects in the same way is always going to yield the same result — mediocrity.

But, when you try new things, when you go out on a limb and work beyond what you’re comfortable with one of two things will happen. You’ll either succeed and will find a new way to do things or you will fail and get that much closer to the finish line.

How to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone (on purpose)

  1. One waddle at a time. Babies didn’t learn to walk the first time mama let go of them. But let them get their bearings and they’re waddling their way to the other side of the room — fast.
  2. Take your time and push yourself through one step at a time. Don’t try to push yourself to the point of nausea. Set one goal at a time and WATCH yourself in amazement as you tick off one more goal that you didn’t think you could reach.
  3. Believe. Instead of telling yourself that it’s something you can’t do, believe WHOLEHEARTEDLY that it’s something you can — and WILL do. Don’t leave any room for doubt because if you doubt yourself, you sabotage yourself. Self-doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.
  4. Meditate ( 2 minutes a day) on creating success through self-belief.
  5. Keep your momentum going. Once you see that you can achieve that one “unattainable” goal, go for another one quickly. While you’re still floating on the high of your win, set the plan for another one. Your belief in yourself will carry you far.

The comfort zone is an amazing place to be. For some. But not for you.

How are you going to make your mark on the world next year?

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Keynote Speaker | Mindfulness Maven | Happiness Muse | Author | Diversity & Inclusion Advocate |

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