Are you too comfortable?
Are you too comfortable?
I’m not sure why but I seem to be thinking a lot about comfort zones recently, both in my personal life and in my business coaching practice. I’ve had several conversations which have got me thinking about it a lot.
I see people describing goals and objectives for their business that they say will require them to change what they do and how they imagine their business. It’s all very exciting stuff! Once in the middle of it, they realize that they can’t get there by just working harder. We talk about how they might work differently to achieve their goals. And that’s uncomfortable. There’s a strong pull towards processes and habits that are comfortable. After all, those practices have gotten you to here.
There’s an interesting saying that goes something like “Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.”
And now what? How does knowing all that help your business?
Your Comfort Zone is Shrinking
It’s a known psychological process that if you never step outside your comfort zone, over time it will close in. As you approach the edge of what’s familiar or comfortable, you start to notice that you become slightly on edge. You’re approaching the edge of what you consider low risk or “safe”. If you don’t push through that, there is a small reduction in the what you consider safe. Over time this accumulates where you become less and less inclined to consider the edges of your comfort zone and it begins to close in. You won’t try those new foods, meet those new people or try that new experience. For your business, you won’t bring on that new product line, go to that new networking meeting or extend your business into new territories. Don’t get me wrong. Your comfort zone can be a very helpful place. If you have lots going on, acting within familiar boundaries is a great way to manage the stress and anxiety of your life. Staying there too long is when challenges can arise.
Stepping outside your comfort zone is stressful
Taking that step outside is stressful. Psychologists tell us that there is a happy medium for how much stress one should take on. Without some stress, we are less engaged, less productive and less creative. Too much stress and we tip into overwhelm mode. When we’re overwhelmed, we don’t make great decisions, don’t communicate effectively and tend to act in a very short term way. Somewhere between those two points allows us to connect with our goals and learn new things. That little bit of discomfort, slight anxiety, nervousness or uncertainty becomes fuel for us to put energy into what we really want to achieve.
Every time you do something that you have never done, you likely experience a little bit of fear. That fear is natural, everyone experiences it. So the trick then is to learn to recognize the signs of fear when you are entering new territory (making a presentation, learning a new skill, making a decision on something where you have little experience) and translate that nervous energy into action. Susan Jeffers, in her book “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway” said that the three most important words when you reach that point in your comfort zone are “I’ll handle it”. You can handle what ever the consequences or outcomes of your action will be. It might not be what you expect, it may turn out far better. Regardless, you can handle what comes next.
So as I had said in an earlier post, the simple point here is simply: Start! Take that first step. Build the plan. Act on the opportunity with those first steps. Don’t allow your uncertainty or fear to hold you back. Push on the boundaries of your comfort zone and do something new and exciting!
Business coaching is centred in building and executing a plan to help you achieve your goals. We provide a solid framework to help you manage those steps outside of your comfort zone. If your discomfort has been holding back your company, perhaps a chat with a coach can help you find the most effective place to stretch your boundaries and achieve your specific goals. Let’s talk about creating that framework for your success.