The comfort zone is the usual living conditions of a person, an established pace and way of life, stereotypes of behavior worked out by a person. By the way, this zone can be very uncomfortable or dangerous (fights, addictions, laziness, conflicts, tyrant husband, poverty), but for a person this is exactly what is accustomed to. But a calm and successful life is something unknown, frightening, located beyond his comfort zone. It is very difficult to leave the familiar zone, no matter how uncomfortable it really is for the individual. But it is possible and necessary.
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What is a comfort zone
The comfort zone in psychology is considered to be everything that a person has mastered, what he has learned, what he has acquired in life to the present moment. These are his living conditions, lifestyle, reactions and ways of solving problems, interests and motives, environment, behavior. This is the person himself at the present moment in time.
The well-known phrase “You steal, drink, crash into jail” very clearly demonstrates the essence of the comfort zone. On the one hand, such an image is familiar, really comfortable (you do not need to learn anything, overcome yourself), but on the other hand, it is obvious that in this case it is a personality-destroying lifestyle.
The comfort zone can be characterized through several theses:
- personal development cannot take place within the comfort zone. The comfort zone is not always terrible or dangerous, but it always inhibits the personality.
- of course, every person should have such a zone. It protects us from stress, anxiety, and overstrain. But from time to time you need to get out of it in order to grow and open new comfort zones, or rather to expand your zone.
Consider, for example, learning to drive a car or starting to work for another company:
- every action causes fear;
- every movement requires incredible effort and control;
- we are insecure;
- we have many questions;
- we are uncomfortable.
But a week, a month, several months pass, and now every move is practiced until it becomes automatic, we drive the car almost with our eyes closed, we do the work faster and better. And most importantly: now we are comfortable, not scared, we are confident in ourselves. And one more important note: after leaving the old comfort zone, we learned new things, we developed our abilities and skills, we revealed another piece of potential, we grew personally and professionally.
What we have learned and are regularly putting into practice is our comfort zone. Perhaps you yourself did not notice how many times you left one zone and entered another: school, university, foreign language courses, work, relationships, family. If we are moving, we are constantly faced with the need to leave our comfort zone. More precisely, we are expanding our comfort zone.
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This is the main difference – some have a small comfort zone (drinking beer alone in front of the TV on the couch), while some have a very wide one (work, study, go to the movies, play sports, raise children, move out of town to city or country to country). The width of the comfort zone depends on:
- how much a person loves himself and takes care of himself (self-development, self-education, other “self-“);
- from the interests of the individual;
- from purposefulness;
- from ambition, curiosity and motivation.
Another interesting feature is that the comfort zone will not expand by itself, but it can narrow. If a person stops self-development even for a moment, stops caring for himself, following global trends, then gradually he becomes imprisoned in a very narrow circle of his society. He becomes uncomfortable where, until recently, he understood the world, and the world understood it. Even previously existing skills and abilities are lost if they are not regularly applied in practice.
For example, an employee who has not worked in the profession for a long time or has not taken skill improvement courses becomes an incompetent specialist. He himself is given a hard job, and besides, the bosses are dissatisfied, production suffers.
If nothing is changed, but continues to degrade, the boundaries of the comfort zone will increasingly narrow, life’s problems will get closer and closer. In the end, the person will be completely maladjusted.
Outside the comfort zone is everything that we do not know how to do, just do not know, do not understand. We can say that the comfort zone is practically identical to the outlook of the individual, that is, the circle of its interests and knowledge. And there is only one conclusion: either we maintain and expand our comfort zone, or we degrade and drive ourselves into a corner.
Leaving your comfort zone
“I feel good anyway” is an example of getting stuck in the comfort zone. Getting out of it is always stressful. That is why it is so difficult to get rid of habits, to learn to communicate with people, to eliminate life and psychological problems.
Our unrealized opportunities, our potential are in the zone of discomfort. Therefore, getting out of it is useful, but it is difficult. After all, there are risks and dangers next to opportunities, sometimes restrictions and, of course, a huge amount of physical, mental and emotional costs. But if you’re ready, let’s go.
1. You need to start by defining a goal. Why did you decide to leave the comfort zone? What do you want to get in the end? Identify your needs and motives.
2. Motivation and goal-setting are the basis and a confident path to achieving what you want. You need to desire very much what is outside your comfort zone. Clearly see why you need it, what it will give.
3. We recommend starting simple: write on a piece of paper what you have already achieved, achieved, have, and what you would like to have, be able to. That is, you get two columns: reality and what you want (plans, goals, dreams).
4. Choose the goal from the column of desires, break it down into feasible tasks and take action.
5. Realize that your main emotion at the moment is fear of the unknown, uncertainty. This is what interferes with leaving the comfort zone: “what will happen, and suddenly it will not work, and suddenly I will lose what I have”. This is normal and understandable. But you have to deal with it.
6. Study and get to know yourself, sort out the inner world and self-concept. This will allow you to guide yourself by the future, based on natural and current social data, to find passions and hobbies.
7. Understand your meaning in life.
8. Get rid of bad habits and develop the habits of a successful person.
9. Make a list of the things that you want to do, but still won’t do. Make it a rule to implement one every month.
10. Get rid of your demons: social phobia, self-doubt, anxiety, loneliness, inability to communicate, suspiciousness. Typically, these issues keep us close to our comfort zone. Identify all problems. See a psychologist if necessary.
11. Love yourself, refine your self-esteem. Inadequate self-esteem and negative narcissism are very often another sticking point and heighten fear of the unknown.
12. Learn self-regulation techniques. You need a lot of energy to achieve your goals. Therefore, it is important to be able to preserve and restore it. And self-regulation is essentially an increase in stress resistance, and it certainly will not interfere on the way to expand the boundaries of the comfort zone.
13. Never put up with something that doesn’t work for you. Do not tolerate it. Do not be afraid to object, ask for help (many people will be happy to help in word or deed, since we all love to be important and significant). Look for ways to achieve your goal, opportunities, dating, connections, your own strengths and abilities.
All of these points are useless if you don’t apply them day in and day out. Decide what you want, how you see yourself, who you see next to you and act! The hardest part, as always, is to start. The more you can, the easier it is to move on. First of all, personal skills are important: will, motivation, purposefulness, activity.
Remember! There is no such thing as “getting out of your comfort zone”, there is the term “expanding your comfort zone”. And it needs to be constantly expanded and maintained. There is no concept “now I will work, and then I will sigh calmly again.” You need to work constantly. This is the most difficult of all specialties – the job of living. But it is the most grateful.