We’ve all heard the phrase “your comfort zone will kill you” but is there really any truth to it?
Well, while it won’t quite literally kill you, it can kill your business, motivation, self-esteem, and prevent you from reaching goals.
The comfort zone, as defined by Lifehacker, is a “behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk” — the operative words here being stress and risk. In our comfort zone, there is a sense of familiarity, security and certainty. When we step outside of our comfort zone, we’re taking a risk, and opening ourselves up to the possibility of stress and anxiety; we’re not quite sure what will happen and how we’ll react.https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone_n_5872638
Your comfort zone is the space where you’ve defined a preset of rules, regulations, stipulations, etc. that all minimize your stress levels and risks. You might think that it’s a good thing, but it’s really not. Let’s look at two examples:
Personal Comfort Zone: Let’s pretend that you have severe anxiety. Leaving the house can be stressful, but you get really stressed out in big crowds. Your heartbeat rises, you start sweating, and it’s a high level of discomfort any time you enter a place that has a lot of people. This discomfort can lead you to quickly avoid going anywhere that has the potential of being crowded. At first glance, that might not seem like necessarily a bad thing but if you break it down, you’re limiting what you can do and where you go. There might also be instances in which you need to visit a crowded place but avoid it because of your anxiety. Anxiety is also greedy and tends to want more real estate. If you’re giving in to it and avoided crowded places, it might not be long before your anxiety decides that most places are too crowded to visit. Or maybe that your home is the only place you should be.
Business Comfort Zone: You’ve got a pretty good business model going on. You’ve got a company that sells all natural wellness products. People like your products and you’ve got some return customers. However, business has been kind of stagnant lately. You’re not really getting any new customers and/or maybe your current clientele is tapering off. Staying within your comfort zone might seem appealing. After all, you’ve got some business and you’re paying the bills. But if you were to step outside of your comfort zone and offer a wellness exercise regimen or weight-loss products that are also all natural, you’d probably see an influx of business. The risk here is that maybe people won’t like your new business model idea. But the bigger risk is that your business stays stagnant and never grows.
In short, you can’t grow your business and you’re depriving yourself of fantastic opportunities/experiences by staying within your comfort zone.
While staying in your comfort zone can result in consistent, steady performance, stepping out of your comfort zone into a new and challenging task can create the conditions for optimal performance. Think about it: Did you ever do something you were really proud of when you were in autopilot mode?
“In an increasingly competitive, cautious and accelerated world, those who are willing to take risks, step out of their comfort zone and into the discomfort of uncertainty will be those who will reap the biggest rewards,” Margie Warrell writes in Forbes.https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone_n_5872638
Businesses and people that take risks tend to get a higher payout than those that don’t. Think of it this way:
If you’re someone who works a 9 to 5 sitting in front of a computer all day and is guilty of not eating the best, then you’re probably not going to be in the best shape/health. If you stick with this comfort zone of going to work, sitting for most of the day, then coming home and vegging out in front of the TV, you’re not doing your body (or mental health) any favors.
Now let’s say you decide that it’s time for that to change. During your work shift, you get up periodically and stretch or walk around. For lunch, you pack something healthier or maybe you opt to walk to a close by area for lunch instead of driving. You also work in some gym time a few days a week and don’t spend your evening binging Netflix. You’re going to see some serious benefits. You’ll feel better, your body will be healthier, and you’ll probably have more motivation and energy for work and other activities.
The same applies to your business. If you keep whipping up the same material day in and day out, you’re probably never going to reap those big rewards. Take Lush for example. They’re a natural (and insanely popular) bath shop. They started with bath bombs and soaps and they’ve since expanded their empire to include shampoos, conditioners, hair dyes, toothpaste, perfumes, and more. Lush was incredibly popular when they had a limited selection, but now they’ve become an all in one go-to for people all around the world. They continue to reinvent themselves and pump out new products. This has led to even more success for the company.
There’s nothing wrong with being in your comfort zone, unless you get too comfortable and start holding yourself back instead of challenging yourself to learn, grow and try new things.https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone_n_5872638
“Being slightly uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, can push us to achieve goals we never thought we could. But it’s important to remember that we don’t need to challenge ourselves and be productive all the time,” as Alina Tugend put it in the New York Times . “It’s good to step out of our comfort zone. But it’s also good to be able to go back in.”
Referring back to Lush, the company is always toeing the line with their comfort zone. They push out new products frequently (think their bath oils, bath jellies, and “naked” products). When one of these doesn’t work, in the case of their bath jellies, the company steps back into its comfort zone. They pump out new bath bombs (a tried and true favorite) while plotting new ways to cross the threshold once again.
Take this to heart and apply it to your business/personal life. You want to step outside of your comfort zone frequently, but it’s also okay to return to that space. You don’t have to constantly live beyond that line; you can still return home to your zone often as long as you’re pushing yourself from time to time.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone increases your creativity
Trying new things has a way of increasing your creativity as well as inspiring you. Referring back to the natural wellness business model, if you’re constantly pushing out the same products, you’re not really exploring your creative side, right? Pushing beyond your predefined boundaries allows you to explore new avenues and get creative with the process. Maybe supplements would benefit your customers (and attract new ones) or perhaps they’d like to sign up for a paid workout/diet regimen that would improve their overall health. There’s no limit to the possibilities once you tap into the creative side of your mind!
You’ll boost your self-confidence
Your self-confidence can’t really grow if you’re doing the same thing day in and day out. Sure, you might be successful but your brain isn’t going to release any feel good chemicals for doing the same thing you did yesterday. Now if you try something new and succeed, your brain will reward you. You’ll also feel a spike of self-confidence and that’ll probably inspire you to really put your heart and soul into it.
What if you fail? Well, keep in mind that it’s part of common humanity. Everyone has experienced failure at some point in their life and not all of your ideas/products are going to work. If something is a miss with your audience or doesn’t work for you personally, take it as a learning experience. See where you can improve and what you can do differently.
Your customers will love you
Sure, you may have roped customers in with your delicious smelling shampoo and conditioner line that restores damaged hair, but they’ll love you even if more if you expand your business model. Maybe women with natural hair will benefit from products that are designed just for them. Ash blonde and silver hair is in: they’d love a shampoo and conditioner that protects their color and keep theirs hair healthy.
Whether you’re working on improving yourself or your business, you’ll grow from stepping outside of your comfort zone. Trying new things is something that your brain actually does crave and whether you’re working on your fitness, diet, or trying to invent new products/services for your business, you’re going to feel better about yourself.
Your life could change for the better
Doors are often hidden or obscured by our comfort zones. By stepping past that line, you may see new opportunities for growth and creativity. Perhaps you’ve been limiting yourself to making clothing options and accessories for pregnant women. It’s a limited model; they only need your services 9 months out of the year at best. And a lot won’t be repeat customers and they damn sure won’t be your customers for life. Stepping past your comfort threshold can allow you to see other opportunities that are relevant: postpartum clothing and accessories, and even things that can help couples prepare for pregnancy. You’ll discover that there’s a lot of possibilities and opportunities out there if you can just cross that line.
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