The Expanding Your Comfort Zone Approach

Some people aim to develop by continuing to expand their comfort zone. Many people urge others to develop by saying to them:

“You need to get out of your comfort zone.”

This sounds okay, but it depends on what is meant by comfort zone. Let’s consider the following examples.

Person A feels comfortable when they are doing their best. Should they try to develop by not doing their best and in this way feeling uncomfortable?

Person B is comfortable when running inspiring seminars for positive people who want to learn. Should they aim to be uncomfortable by working with unmotivated people who don’t want to learn?

Person C feels comfortable when acting as a First Responder and managing crises that other people would find difficult. Should they try to develop by being uncomfortable when sitting at a desk and doing boring jobs?

What does somebody actually mean when they say that an individual needs to get out of their comfort zone? Maybe the message they want to get across is something like the following.

“The person needs to show more urgency. They need to stretch themselves and work harder if they want to fulfil their potential.”

Another approach is for a person to build on and expand their comfort zone. The novice mountaineer stretches themselves by climbing increasingly difficult mountains. They do not immediately move from tackling small climbs to scaling Everest.

Certainly they would be out of their comfort zone – and they may succeed – but it is more likely to end in tragedy.

As mentioned earlier, sometimes it is important keep building on and expanding our comfort zone. This is particularly the case, for example, if we are comfortable doing our best.

Let’s look at how this approach works in practice. Imagine that a person has decided to improve their wellbeing by taking up running.

The person will not suddenly leap from their sedentary lifestyle into trying to run a marathon. Certainly that will involve going out of their comfort zone, but there may also be lots of collateral damage.

The person may choose instead to start by walking and jogging for short distances. They will then increase their running distances in a sustainable way.

They may enter half marathons followed by full marathons. Eventually they may run several marathons in succession. They will build up slowly and expand their comfort zone.

Imagine that you want to follow this approach in your own way. It may be useful to focus on the following themes.

You Can Set
A Stimulating Goal

You can choose a specific activity where you want to stretch yourself set a stimulating goal. The goal you set should be one where, providing you do your best, you have a good chance of success.

You Can Stretch Yourself

You can stretch yourself when doing the activity. This may involve stretching yourself physically, psychologically or even philosophically. It can mean going into new creative dimensions where you add to your repertoire.

You Can Do Your
Best To Achieve Success

You can plan ahead, prepare properly and rehearse following your chosen principles when doing the activity. It will then be time to do superb work, keep improving and do your best to achieve success.

There is another approach to expanding comfort zones. Sports coaches, for example, talk about the idea of helping athletes to get used to positive discomfort.

This can involve doing new things, changing routine or dealing with challenging situations. Such coaches throw the occasional curve ball during practice. This could be a new experience, a surprise or a challenge.

The athletes can then learn to adapt, make decisions and perform at their best. This can help them to expand the situations in which they feel comfortable.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of an activity where you may want to expand your comfort zone?

How can you do this in your own way? How can you set a stimulating goal, stretch yourself and do your best to achieve success? What may happen as a result of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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