We read a lot on the net about being in the comfort zone and why we should get out of it. But how do you do that? Facing our fears? Sometimes, these fears lie on an unconscious level therefore we aren’t always consciously aware of what our comfort zone is.
That of course, can make it difficult to leave.
What is a Comfort Zone?
A comfort zone can be best described as a place where we are not challenging ourselves. It is not your fault that you slip into this mode. I prefer to call this oftentimes deadly state as a ‘familiar zone’. Why? because the mind is always seeking the familiar.
When everything is familiar you are safe from harm and this is one of the prime motivations of your unconscious mind; to keep you safe at all costs. So it will do all in its power to make everything in your life familiar, even when that familiarity or comfort zone, is to your detriment.
Who is in the Comfort Zone?
I have met (and coached) many people who fall into the comfort zone. They get some success and then take their foot off the gas. I know entrepreneurs who work hard to get their business up and running and then stop when they taste success.
I have seen them start spending lavish amounts of money, taking more holidays or time off than is needed when they start feeling comfortable having ‘made it’.
Their mind now finds their level of success that they have reached, comfortable or rather, familiar.
People are like elastic bands – only useful when they are stretched (Unknown)
I recently read that 74% of professional youth footballers in the UK, who get a big contract at an early age, never make it as a professional footballer. I guess the money (and other factors) lead them into a sense of “I have made it”. Or in other words, they too slide into their comfort zone.
And I don’t like to admit it, but I will. I have previously fallen prey to the trap of the comfort zone too.
So How do You Get Out of the Comfort Zone – and Stay Out?
The easiest way to achieve this is simple (Don’t believe the hype that it is difficult): you set a s-t-r-e-t-c-h goal for yourself.
Really? Is it really that simple Rob? Yes it is. Sorry to maybe disappoint you that there s no ‘big reveal’ or some ‘hidden secret’.
Your biggest enemy of success is complacency
A few years ago when I was consulting to a successful team, I set gargantuan goals for our department. It was so out of sight that everybody laughed at me, including the Directors, who secretly wished we would achieve it.
We never did quite reach it. But we only missed out by a miniscule amount.
Another time when I worked in the UK as a manager, I remember saying to myself that I would take the companies figures to new heights and I achieved that goal because I stretched myself.
I was continually asking myself, “How can I improve these figures?” Needless to say I set UK and European records within my industry.
I was continually improving or seeking new ways and strategies to improve myself and what I was doing. I never settled. I was never comfortable with my results in comparison to my stretch goals.
So How Can You Stretch Yourself?
What goals can you set for your business that will really, really stretch you and your capabilities? If you are currently only attracting 50 customers a month, why not make it 500?
If you are an athlete, why not set yourself a time that really stretched where you are now? Or if you are working in a company why not aim to be CEO rather than just a manager?
What got you to where you are today, is not enough to keep you there
Incidentally, I blogged before about why you shouldn’t aim to be number one in anything you are doing or trying to achieve, so please do not set that as a stretch goal.
Your stretch goal should be something that you are in control of. Of course, you still have your other ‘normal’ goals that you set and achieve.
But by setting a stretch goal you will never ever settle into your comfort zone. You will always be feeling slightly uncomfortable with your results.
But You Will Still be Motivated and Stress Free
Each step you take towards your stretch goal it is important to reward yourself. Although you are feeling slightly uncomfortable it is not stressful. That is the paradox, when the goal you are seeking is just out of your reach (You are achieving your normal monthly goals remember).
But this ensures that you will never, ever settle into a comfort zone where you take things for granted or become complacent, which is your biggest enemy of success.
Stretching yourself is empowering. It get’s your creative juices flowing like the rapids in a river. It motivates you to keep improving, to keep working harder, to do what other people are not prepared to do.
Your mind will be seeking ways for you to achieve your stretch goal even if looks way too far right now
Believe in that. You will be surprised how the universe comes to your aid when you stretch yourself.
A good coach can help you identify, set and achieve your stretch goals so that is something else you may want to consider.
Remember, your comfort zone (Complacency) is your biggest enemy of success. If you have recently become successful, you will realise, looking back, that that was the easy part.
It is staying there and improving when the real hard work – and fun – truly begins.
Go and stretch yourself. Believe that you can do it. Don’t focus on the how for now, your unconscious mind will guide you accordingly. By staying out of your comfort zone you will achieve so much more and what you are truly capable of, I assure you, is more than you probably think.