It is so hard sometimes to push ourselves to be more than we fear we can be. Sometimes we sit unconsciously in our comfort zone doing just enough and wonder why we are feeling bored or unfulfilled. The comfort zone is where everything feels familiar and achievable, where we can feel in charge and perhaps where we have control.
If we are ever to reach anything near to our potential then we must continually strive to spend the majority of our time in our high-performance zone, only returning to that comfort zone to rest and recharge.
Why should I strive to feel uncomfortable you might ask? Well to get more done than you thought was possible which in turn will lead to a growth in confidence. Then you can look forward to excitement and stimulation that will have the added benefits of keeping you young, engaged and engaging.
This is not necessarily only about work, sometimes aspects of life are just mundane and dull. It is about looking at all aspects of your life and wondering which parts you are just along for the ride, the tasks that could, with a bit more effort, be so much more rewarding.
It is true, to push out of our comfort zone is to experience the feeling of risk, and therein lies the downfall of many of us. How do we know when there is a real danger and something to fear, and when is it just the irrelevant internal beliefs and messages that conspire to create this feeling of fear.
I think it is a good idea to consider an aspect of life and ask oneself some searching questions. Start with something small; consider your social circle perhaps. Are you playing safe and spending all your time with people you are a bit too comfortable with, who do not push you for opinions or challenge your beliefs? How might it be to spend time with people who are a little more accomplished than you, a little more knowledgeable in a particular field?
Yes, at first you might feel out of your ‘comfort zone’, but before long you would be soaking it their broader view. Nobody says that you have to agree with the point of view, but you should consider its merits. That would certainly put you in your high performance zone. If that feels easy, transfer the exercise to your current work. What has become too easy for you? Do you attend networking meetings full of the same people you have met before? Do you take the easy role in a meeting not really expressing an opinion for fear of judgement? Do you not offer to take on that extra task for fear you might not be able to achieve?
We are all doing these things on a regular basis, just go and try and brush your teeth using your other hand, it will feel odd and uncomfortable. If such a small change can feel so strange imagine the changes and shake ups you could motivate in yourself; you are undoubtedly taking things easier than you need to. We all need a gentle push, often from ourselves, to do more than we think is possible.
Of course, if we push too far we find ourselves in our danger zone, where our performance and balance is lost. This is often considered to be the route of illness and debilitation and must be considered with respect. But how often do we think a task or a challenge will push us into our danger zone, and so avoid it when truthfully it is well within our ability, and merely sits in a high-performance zone that is absolutely achievable.
Try something small right now; it might lead to something big.