O.K. You recognize this place. You’ve been here before. You feel like you’re settling. Going nowhere. Sometimes when you’re here, you feel bored. At other times, fear, doubt, sadness, even depression set in. There is an all-consuming restlessness. You take stock of your life. Overall, you know you’re blessed. You should be feeling overwhelming joy, but that feeling of happiness and satisfaction eludes you.
You are in the zone. The Comfort Zone! Maybe it’s in your relationships or in your physical or spiritual journey. Maybe it’s in your career or your financial situation. But, you’re here. In the Comfort Zone. So, what do you do about it? You get out!
Why? It is called the Comfort Zone, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be comfortable? Shouldn’t I be comfortable here?
Absolutely! At first!
When we find that we’ve become complacent or sad or restless in an area of our lives, we have to take stock and wonder if we’ve stayed too long in this particular zone. This place. Another way to look at it is to ask not if we’ve stayed too long, but have we gotten too comfortable in a given place or situation.
For instance, in your marriage, it might not be a question of how long you’ve been married as much as it is a question of how long have you remained the same, doing the same things in the same ways. When was the last time you shook things up? Given each other a push toward growth? Moved out of your marital comfort zone?
On your job. You’ve been there for ten years. You feel like the walking dead. Not feeling any passion or challenge in the work you are currently doing. You may not have to quit your job, or start a whole new career, but perhaps it’s time to ask for a more challenging position or project!
It’s not as easy as all that!
For some of us, you’re absolutely right! It’s easy to just stay right where you are, to do things the ways in which you’ve always done them. To stay stuck. Miserable. But, here’s the rub: It’s not as much about ease as it is about action. Growth. Forward motion.
You may have read another article I posted about the ZPD, (Zone of Proximal Development) that place of disequilibrium; that place in which we need to know more or be able to do more, all the while experiencing uncertainty in what to do about it. We often lack confidence in our ability to figure out, on our own, what new steps we need to take. Believe it or not, this is where you want to be.
You want to be in that place right outside of your Comfort Zone, also known as your ZAD,(Zone of Actual Development). This is where your growth begins. Your new take on life. Your new relationship with yourself. In the ZPD. Right outside the Comfort Zone.
So, what are some ways in which I can step outside your Comfort Zone?
- Take stock. You may need to talk with a mentor, teacher, trusted friend or life coach to help you determine what is keeping you in the Comfort Zone and to support you in a plan for moving you out of it.
- Take steps. Try something different in your Comfort Zone situation (your job, relationship, etc.) Ask for the promotion. Share that idea you’ve been sitting on. Attend a couples’ retreat or try something different for “date night.” The question I ask, that helps relieve fear, when doing this is: “What’s the worst that could happen?”
- Take something. Try something totally new (zip-lining, dance classes, art classes, horse-back riding, cooking lessons). Go into it with an open-mind and heart. Be prepared to learn from it and apply those lessons to your Comfort Zone situation. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself and your endless possibilities when doing some of the scariest, craziest, you’re-not-in-control things!
Look! There’s really not a lot of comfort in the Comfort Zone. It’s usually fear masquerading as comfort. And living a life driven by fear is not what you want. Not what you deserve. Not what God promised. So, take stock, take steps, or take something. But, take yourself out of the Comfort Zone!
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