Cultivating Constant Growth
Written by Sophie French
Let’s face it: getting out of our comfort zone is not comfortable. When you’re snuggled up on the sofa without having to interact with anyone, in quite literally the most comfy spot in the world, the thought of getting out of that? Sounds terrible, not for me, thanks bye!
But there’s some serious science and reasoning behind why getting out of your comfort zone over and over again is not just good for your work, but also for your entire life.
Your comfort zone generally consists of routine, doing the same thing every day, hanging out with the same people, and being overall ‘comfortable.’ While this is fine, it can often feel stagnant and boring.
Your ‘Stretch Zone’ is the place where things feel exciting, out of the ordinary, where there’s lots of new experiences and senses being utilized, and where you have to take a deep breath before jumping in. And in this stretch zone, is where you grow.
The thing with the stretch zone is, the more you stretch it, the bigger it gets. So eventually, something that once felt like a stretch, becomes comfortable, so you have to stretch again.
Once you do one scary thing a few times, it becomes less scary. You know this to be true, right? The more you do something, the more you realize it wasn’t as ‘dangerous’ or ‘awful’ as your brain told you it might be. Things are never as bad as we imagine them to be.
Sometimes you just have to go ahead and do it! The more we think ‘What could go wrong?’ ‘What if this happens?’ the more chance we give our brains to hold us back. Our mind wants to keep us safe, so assessing all potential dangers of every opportunity is its prime responsibility. It’s really handy because it keeps us alive (!) but not so handy when it’s holding you back from things that are not in any way life threatening.
A really great way to do this is to use Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule, where you count to five and do the thing! It might be something simple like getting out of bed instead of hitting snooze, sending that email you’ve been putting off, or jumping out of that plane, but giving yourself a 5 second countdown before diving in and taking action helps to stop your fear in its tracks, and keeps you moving forward!
What’s the worst that could happen? And how likely is that on a scale of 1-10?
We tend to catastrophize situations. Our ‘lookout for danger’ brain sends us the biggest ‘what ifs’ in order to make us rethink something that is a potential danger. But really, what IS the worst that could happen? Because whatever it is, I’ll bet you could handle that. What would happen if the worst thing that could happen, happened? And how likely is that to happen on a scale of 1-10? When we look at the facts and figures, we’re in a better position to take control rather than letting our mind whizz off into catastrophic directions.
What if it all goes right?
Often when people are asked to step out of their comfort zone, they think of all the things that could go wrong. Instead, close your eyes and clearly visualize what a successful outcome looks like. Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? What does success feel like? Create that powerful image each time you feel fear stepping out of your safe zone.
Play the Dare Game
I don’t know about you, but if someone gave me a dare at school, it had to be done! There was no alternative. Play this game with yourself. If there’s something coming up that makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable, and have fun with it by daring yourself to go for it - or get someone else to dare you and hold you accountable. I did this recently before heading into a big corporate firm to run some talks with their staff - it was making me feel super nervous and serious, so I turned it into something fun by saying to myself ‘I dare you to go into that firm and give a kick-ass talk’ - and so I did!
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Best-selling author and podcaster Tim Ferriss shares some unique insights to step out of your comfort zone and take small steps daily that challenge you to be uncomfortable, like negotiating for a cup of coffee at Starbucks (this would me so uncomfortable.) Lie down in a public place for 10 seconds. Hug a random person. Go do hot yoga (now that’s uncomfortable.) All these small but challenging activities are geared towards getting you comfortable with doing the commonly unthinkable actions and train your comfort muscles so this gets easier every time.
So where are you feeling comfortable? When are you feeling stuck and demotivated? Chances are a little pep of discomfort will lead you to a lot of bliss.
Find more of Sophie on her site: https://www.sophiefrench.co/
This story was first published in Issue 8: Grow.