Are you comfortable with your life? Are you excelling in your life?
“The majority of people canâ€™t answer â€œyesâ€ to both questions. Theyâ€™re either pushing their boundaries to the limits and hence are uncomfortable, or theyâ€™ve become comfortable and stopped pushing.” â€“ Charlie Gilkey
“In self growth, when we say youâ€™re comfortable, what we really mean is that youâ€™re not growing. Youâ€™re not stretching yourself. Youâ€™re satisfied where you are, and not making any real effort to move forward out of that situation.” â€“ David B Bohl
Growth doesnâ€™t tend to happen when weâ€™re feeling comfortable. In order to really change, we need to grow outside our comfort zone.
ButÂ when weâ€™ve found something which is easy and which works, we want to carry on doing more of the same â€¦ itâ€™s difficult to take a step into the unknown, or the uncomfortable. We convince ourselves weâ€™re makingÂ progress (perhaps working slowly up the ladder at work, passing the next test in school, writing another blog article) â€“ but we secretly know weâ€™re notÂ growing.
Iâ€™m going to think about three questions below:
- Where are you too comfortable?
- What makes you feel nervous?
- How can you jump outside your comfort zone?
Where are you too comfortable?
When life is chugging along happily, itâ€™s easy to settle back and get comfortable. Maybe youâ€™re in a fairly undemanding job, which you can do well and easily. Maybe youâ€™ve got a long-term partner and your relationship is pretty good. Maybe you know you could be fitter, but youâ€™re not suffering any health problems. Maybe your financial situation is steady, though not outstanding.
Itâ€™s natural to want a comfortable life. Weâ€™re wired to avoid things which are frightening, uncomfortable or painful, and to seek to make our lives as easy as possible. But comfort doesnâ€™t lead to growth â€“ it leads to stagnation.
Grab a sheet of paper, open up a document on your computer, or use the comments box at the bottom of this post. Complete the sentence â€œI have become too comfortable with â€¦â€
â€œI have become too comfortable with my freelance writing, sticking with blog articles because I find them easy to write.â€
Now write down â€œI am going to take a step outside my comfort zone by â€¦â€ (and make this as specific as possible.)
â€œI am going to take a step outside my comfort zone by pitching five articles to magazines every week during the next month.â€
What makes you feel nervous?
To go beyond your comfort zone, you need to work out where the boundaries lie. A good way to do this is to figure out what makes you feel nervous. Try not to have preconceptions about this â€“ whatâ€™s terrifying to one person can be second nature to another. I tend to be scared of everything new and just some of the things that have made me nervous in the past are:
- Meeting up with a group of online friends for the first time, aged 16
- Leaving home to go to university, aged 18
- Pitching my first guest post to a blog, last January
All of these things have become easy and comfortable now. Some of the people Iâ€™ve met online have become my closest friends; I now feel like a guest in my parentsâ€™ house and my flat in London feels like â€œhomeâ€; I write regularly for several blogs and offer guest posts to many more.
What makes you nervous? It might be:
- Having a serious conversation about your relationship with your partner
- Asking for a pay rise or more responsibility at work
- Saying â€œnoâ€ to someone whoâ€™s asking for your time or money
- Leaving a comment on one of your favourite blogs
Whether big or small, write down â€œI feel nervous about â€¦â€
Hereâ€™s mine: â€œI feel nervous about phoning prospective website clients.â€
And now add â€œâ€¦but Iâ€™m going to do it anyway!â€
â€œI feel nervous about phoning prospective website clients, but Iâ€™m going to do it anyway!â€
How can you JUMP outside your comfort zone?
I was going to ask you to take a step outside your comfort zone â€“ but I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s challenging enough. After all, a step could mean just putting one foot over the comfort zone line â€¦ before retreating straight back in.
So I want to think about jumping outside your comfort zone. Is there a whole area where youâ€™re stagnating? How can you really shake things up?
Maybe youâ€™re going to:
- Overhaul your diet and join a gym
- Apply for new jobs
- Launch a blog or website
- Write your first novel
- Apply for a professional or academic course
Whatever it is, make it something big! It might be scary, even a little overwhelming, but if you can do it, this is something which will help you grow immensely.
â€œIâ€™m going to jump outside my comfort zone by talking to lots of people when I start my Creative Writing MA on October 1st. Iâ€™m not going to be shy or scared, Iâ€™m going to put myself out there with a big smile â€“ and find new friends and future writing colleagues.â€
Where are you too comfortable â€“ and how will you change it? What makes you nervous that youâ€™re going to do anyway? How will you JUMP outside your comfort zone?
(Iâ€™ll let you know how Iâ€™m getting on next monthâ€¦)
Photo by Joshua Davis