Life is full of opportunities to step outside the comfort zone, but grabbing hold of them can be difficult. Sometimes the problem is not being aware of reasons to do so. After all, if the feeling of comfort signifies our most basic needs are being met, why should we seek to abandon it? What holds people back most of the time is their frame of mind rather than any distinct lack of knowledge.
From the ancient sailors who weathered storms to explore new lands to the modern digital entrepreneurs who’ve built remote online businesses, life continues to reward those who venture into the unknown. Why? Because they’re the ones who were willing to get uncomfortable. They’re the ones who’ve embraced discomfort and the true nature of the human experience: An always-changing, ever-evolving, growing process.
Getting out of your comfort zone can lead to so much satisfaction and increased self-confidence. It can also teach you new skills and improve your resilience as you prove to yourself that you CAN take on challenges.
I came across this illustration that beautifully represents the journey from the comfort zone to the growth zone
It takes courage to step from the comfort zone into the fear zone. Without a clear roadmap, there’s no way to build on previous experiences. This can be anxiety provoking. Yet persevere long enough, and you enter the learning zone, where you gain new skills and deal with challenges resourcefully.
After a learning period, a new comfort zone is created, expanding one’s ability to reach even greater heights. This is what it means to be in the growth zone.
The Comfort Pull
Your comfort zone is tempting. It’s that comfy couch that calls you over, wraps you with warmth, and then sucks you deeper into its core. It’s seductive. But linger in it a little too long and it becomes harder to stand up again—the gravitational pull is too strong.
And that’s the reason you stay stagnant where you are.
You’re not in motion or action. When you’re not moving, you’re not exploring. And when you’re not engaging in new experiences, you’re not learning or building new skills—you’re just there, existing in time, but not evolving through it.
The irony of the comfort zone is this:
You will most likely not be willing to step out of your comfort zone and into discomfort until you are extremely uncomfortable with the comfort zone itself.
When your comfort zone becomes so uncomfortable, that’s when the spark is lit. And that’s when you need to step up to the stage and ignite the fire. That’s when the new version of you needs to show up.
Discomfort in the status quo is a sign that it’s time to make a change, and discomfort demands a new version of you to show up.
We tend to think that discomfort is our enemy. But what if we changed the lens we’re looking through? What if we began to see discomfort for what it is: Our ally. The voice. A whisper so loud, it trembles our body. Our inner guidance telling us that we are meant for more because we are capable of more.
And what if we allow it to move us into action?
Discomfort in our comfort zone is the sign that it’s time for us to step out of that zone and get really uncomfortable as we fully step forward into our growth zone.
Between where you are today and where you want to be—who you are today and who you want to become—there’s discomfort. It’s the passage that carries you forward. Embrace it, and you will bloom. Shun it away, and you will shrink.