I came across this “comfort zone” diagram in my social media feeds and wish I could find out who to attribute it to. I had to stop and study it for a moment, considering what it displays and whether or not I agree with it. Thinking back across my own life, could I think of events or experiences that I could relate to this image? The answer was yes, and I feel like it’s something people who are trying to grow and improve need to realize.
Start out with a good look at that “Comfort Zone” where it indicates an individual would feel safe and in control. This is an easy one to understand even if by opposite comparison. If you don’t feel safe or you don’t feel in control, you normally aren’t comfortable. Only the familiar makes us feel safe or comfortable. We often don’t like leaving that Comfort Zone because doing so forces us to face things we may not like, or at a bare minimum, aren’t comfortable with. However, it’s important to remember: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been, and you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. To change your life, you have to go beyond what you are comfortable with. Now take a look at the next three zones in order and we’ll discuss them:
- Fear Zone
- Learning Zone
- Growth Zone+
The Fear Zone involves things that make us uncomfortable; things we’re unfamiliar with; new challenges and new tasks. It’s important to realize and documented in the image by the words “lack of self-confidence,” that the only thing making us believe we can’t do something, even if it’s something we’ve done before, is our own lack of confidence in our ability to do so. Think of the people you know who always seem confident; who seem capable of taking on any new task or skill and accomplishing it with reasonable success. The biggest thing they have going for them is confidence in their ability to do so.
The other two comments are very important to understand: We dislike going into the Fear Zone so much we’ll make excuses to avoid doing so. Those excuses are our fear talking. It’s how we avoid facing the fear and doing the work. It’s how we avoid leaving our comfort zone. Our Fear Zone CAN be affected by the opinions and statements of others. The opinions people voice can either be encouraging or discouraging, and how much weight we give them also impacts their value. The lesson is that sometimes, to avoid being stuck in our Comfort Zone, we have to not only be strong enough – have enough confidence – to overcome our own doubts, but also to overcome the doubts about us that others voice.
If we can manage to get past our fear… past the Fear Zone, we get to the Learning Zone. We get to that place of circumstance where we can grow and improve ourselves. To do that: to grow, we have to meet new challenges and overcome them. We have to develop new skills and create a new perception of who we are. The absolute coolest part of getting into the Learning Zone and actually learning while we’re there, is that it becomes our new Comfort Zone. By experiencing something new and different and by gaining new knowledge, mastering new skills, we grow into being comfortable in places and facing circumstances where we once weren’t.
Once we’ve reached into and begun developing in the Learning Zone, we reach our Growth Zone. That’s where we take advantage of what we’ve learned; the new knowledge we have and the new skills we’ve developed. Once we’re cognizant of them, we can begin planning on our next steps involving the new reality we’ve created for ourselves.
In the Growth Zone you can identify new goals and set new objectives. You can discover new dreams that you’d previously not considered because you didn’t think you were capable. That growth zone is where we all flourish. It’s where we should strive to be. It’s where we can “live our best life” and become the person we dream about being.
And the first step… is into your Fear Zone.