If you’re sitting there in a standard-issue office chair, in a mediocre office with builder beige walls, listening to your colleague on speaker phone in the office next door – every day – you might be in a comfort zone.
If you have multiple tabs open on your computer and to the outsider, you’re looking really busy, but really, you’re scrolling through socials, online shopping, and reading the most recent headlines, you really are in your comfort zone – not to mention just damn bored.
Or maybe, you are overwhelmed. Your boss (who you can work circles around) gave you a bunch of nonsense work, on top of last week’s nonsense work and you are already slammed with your own work. The pile gets bigger, the hours get longer and even though you constantly ask yourself, “Why do I put up with this?”, you still stay. Definitely in your comfort zone.
If you get home at the end of the day, mentally exhausted and in no mood to do anything but watch Netflix – where you promptly fall asleep 15 minutes into the episode, well … I don’t know if you are in your comfort zone, but you certainly aren’t living your best life. I’m going to take a wild guess and say, yup…comfort zone.
Sometimes you decide to take a stand in the form of skimming through job postings, or dreaming about starting up a side gig, but ultimately, you show up day after day, completely unchallenged, potentially highly overworked, because it’s familiar. It’s easy. It’s predicable.
But it’s also soul crushing, boring, stressful, and completely unfulfilling.
You are stuck in the comfort zone.
Let me ask some questions here:
- How uncomfortable does it have to get before it’s no longer comfortable in your comfort zone?
- Is this really how you want to spend the biggest portion of your life?
- What is holding you back from trying for a new job or really starting that side gig?
I bet I know the answer: FEAR.
Maybe you don’t label it that. Maybe you call it one of these things:
“Not the right time.”
“I can’t afford it.”
“It’s a secure job.”
“It’s boring but it pays well.”
“The job market is terrible.”
“I’m not qualified.”
“Who would listen to me?”
“I’m too shy.”
“I’m too young” or “I’m too old.”
“I don’t deserve that.”
All of these are sneaky statements that basically scream, “I’m afraid!”
Let me be clear. THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL. We all do it. My point in asking the questions is to help you see your statements for what they really are: fear.
Now here’s where it gets real: YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE HOLDING YOU BACK.
Somewhere along the line, you learned to play it safe. You learned that it was way less scary to not really push outside your comfort zone because you don’t know what’s out there and it could be dangerous! You can create all kinds of scenarios for why it must remain the same. When you’re bitching to your colleague/spouse/friends about work, you start every sentence with, “I can’t” or “It won’t work” and there’s always a “Yes, but”.
To get my point across here, I want to summarize a fantastic kid’s book that illustrates my point like no other (leave it to a children’s book to illustrate a point that adults have a difficult time making…) The book is called “Scaredy Squirrel” where the main character is afraid to leave his nest in the trees for fear of the unknown – until one day he falls from the tree and finds himself in the unknown, where he learns it isn’t so bad after all. Spoiler alert: he can fly too! He’s a flying squirrel who never knew he had the gift until he left his comfort zone. The metaphors in this book are profound:
The comfort zone is safe, but predictable and boring.
We often need a push to step outside our comfort zone.
The unknown can be a pretty fantastic place.
We all have unique gifts and talents that want to be used so badly, if we would put ourselves in situations where they can come alive.
I’m a firm believer, that if we don’t try to exit our comfort zone, our comfort zone will eventually boot us out, in one way or another. It might be that you get some kind of illness that forces you out, or maybe you get complacent at work and stop meeting standards, then your employer walks you out. It could come in a myriad of ways, but the gist of my story here is that the comfort zone isn’t permanent.
HUMANS NEED TO GROW. That’s why I used the words “soul crushing” earlier because I believe that we have some kind of evolutionary mechanism that wants us to evolve and live to our fullest potential so it pushes us by making us become aware when things need to change. It starts as a general unease and will keep growing bigger and bigger until it knocks us right out into a new zone – whether we’re ready or not. I feel like your soul’s heart breaks a little each day when you’re in a place that doesn’t support your growth (I’m talking to you, builder beige walls).
So, if fear is stopping you from stepping out of your comfort zone, then let’s take a look at it. We all know that once you take something out of the dark, it’s often not as scary as we think it is. Once you bring it to the light, you can let it go.
And doesn’t the idea of growing and living life to your full potential, incorporating all your gifts and talents, sound awesome? When you think about really living life like this, doesn’t it get you excited? Maybe even a little motivated?
Or, you know, you can keep scrolling Amazon and buying more stuff you don’t need to pay for the life you aren’t happy in, because it’s safe and familiar.
Think about that. The choice is always yours.
If you decide that it’s time to start paying attention to the voice inside your head that’s nudging you forward, and are feeling a little resistance, know that you have options. When you’re ready to really let go of the fear and step into the unknown – on your terms – let me know. I love a good empowering story.