There’s a small story that clearly explains how your comfort zone works. “In a Japanese village the main source of income was fishing. In every morning all men would woke up and start their fishing adventure, while their wives would take the fish and set on the road to neighboring villages. Since the main activity in the village was fishing , the source of income was selling fish in neighboring villages. One day, they went as usual on the road full of dangers such as wild animals, robbers, and after they walked a long way they decided to stop in a clearing to spend the night there . It was an amazing meadow with singing birds and a very nice smell of cherrys. The women were lying to sleep , but noticed that they can’t fall asleep. Nobody understood why, until one of them said that they all should sleep with their baskets of fish near their heads. Do to the odor of the fish, and women being accustomed to the smell of fish they fell asleep instantly. That was their comfort zone, being surrounded by fish malodor .
Comfort zone is a key concept in personal and professional development. In this post I bring you some simple ideas to understand the subtle mechanisms behind the concept of comfort zone.
Comfort zone. Why we love it and what brings us?
1. Safety.2. Familiarity. 3. Relaxation.
These are three major benefits that you get when you stay in your comfort zone.
Comfort zone. What doesn’t give us.
1. Diversity. 2. News. 3. Adrenaline.
And these are the three major benefits that you do not get when you stay in your comfort zone.
Comfort zone. Why should we get out of it.
1. We don’t learn. When we stay in our comfort zone we do not learn new things. By the nature of the learning process we have to get out of our comfort zone to embrace ideas / concepts. As long as we don’t leave the comfort zone we will not get access to new information.
2. We do not develop. As I was mentioning above, we do not get new behaviors and skills as long as we stay locked in our comfort zone. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the only thing that is constant in the Universe is the change. Everything is changing. If we do not learn to develop we regress. We do not like to sit still.
3. We risk becoming prey to our behavior patterns. Not only we don’t learn new things, new strategies, but if we stay long enough in the comfort zone we risk to get used to our outdated strategies. So involution accelerates as long as we spend much time in the comfort zone. In time we will get very cynical and become very closed minded. I do not know who said: “Minds are like parachutes. They work only when open. “
4. We cannot increase the comfort zone. For me this is the most important. And is somewhat a paradox: we have to get out of our comfort zone to create more comfort, although this itself brings discomfort. This is personal development: first it hurts, then, when we have mastered the new territory it becomes part of our comfort zone. And so on.
Whence frustrations? People are often frustrated because they need to be in the comfort zone and beyond it, at the same time. Allow me to explain myself briefly. It comes down to values. And one of the human characteristics is that by nature we are dual. Values are no exception: we like both diversity and safety. We like both adrenaline and relaxation. When we feel very good and everything is going well too long, we get bored. When we have too much adventure in life we do not feel safe.
Everyone quantifies values in a unique way. Everyone of us has a unique top of values. So, some prefer to stay in the comfort zone (loving stability, relaxation and safety) while others prefer to live on the edge … always outside their comfort zone (loving diversity, adrenaline, novelty).
Finally, I want to tell you three simple and highly effective ideas about how to get out of your comfort zone:
1. Understand your own mindset, personality traits and behavioral patterns. All these gives you the dimensions of your comfort zone. To get out of your comfort zone you must first know very well where are its limits.
2. Learn from others different from you. You can read a book, an article, you can go to a conference or you can speak directly to an expert. Learn from unconventional sources, from your point of view. If you are a marketer, learn from an artist or a doctor … and vice versa. Learn how others do things in their own way.
3. Put into practice what you learned in section 2. As long as you do not use new strategies to make new things, you stay in your comfort zone. Of course, adapt what you learn from others to your own life.
Make sure you keep your identity. Even if you always use and implement new strategies and get out of your comfort zone you are you.