Your Comfort Zone: Friend or Foe?

by Jason Kotecki on · 7 comments

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We need to spend more time IN our com­fort zones.

There, I said it.

In the self-improvement cul­ture we live in, we’re con­stantly advised to shore up our weak­nesses and do things that are out of our com­fort zone. It’s appar­ently the magic path to suc­cess, riches, and enlightenment.

And I think it might be rob­bing the world of the best we have to offer.

Of course there is a pearl of wis­dom in this adage. Try­ing new things is a great way to grow, build courage and col­lect won­der­ful expe­ri­ences. But it also has the poten­tial to lead us astray. Here are a few pitfalls:

It can trick us into think­ing that we can be self-sufficient.

Its easy to get caught up believ­ing that we can achieve any­thing, pro­vided we’re brave enough to step out of our com­fort zone and take it. But we were designed to rely on each other. That means nobody is great at every­thing. Each per­son is great at some things, okay at most things, and ter­ri­ble at oth­ers. Although it goes against the myth of the self-made hero, we’re most effi­cient when we’re using our strengths to help oth­ers achieve their goals while rely­ing on other people’s gifts to achieve ours.

It can sub­tly send the mes­sage that we’re not good enough.

No mat­ter how big our com­fort zone is, it’s always too small. There’s ALWAYS some­thing else we’re afraid of, uncer­tain about, or uncom­fort­able with. I could spend all my time run­ning on the tread­mill of expand­ing my com­fort zone, try­ing new expe­ri­ences that scare me. I could go streak­ing. I could sky dive. I could eat snails. I could go deep sea div­ing and play pinochle with sharks. I’m sure I’d col­lect some cool sto­ries, but at the end of the day, what have I built? What value have I added to the world?

It can down­play our strengths.

We have a level of com­fort with the things we kick butt at. Give me a paint­brush, some tubes of paint, and a blank can­vas, and I am in my com­fort zone. Slide me under a car to change the oil…not so much. Sure, I could step out of my com­fort zone and learn how to fix and main­tain my own car. But try as I might, I’ll never be more than a mediocre car mechanic. The world’s all stocked up on mediocre, but it could always use more greatness.

I believe that we’re called to be great. And the only way I know how to be great is to spend a LOT of time doing some­thing you’re already pretty good at. There are no short­cuts. Spend­ing a lot of time expand­ing your com­fort zone is an excel­lent way to col­lect sto­ries, but it can also be dis­trac­tion that keeps you from focus­ing on what it takes to become great.

I’m not con­vinced that the com­fort zone is the enemy we some­times make it out to be. Per­haps it’s there to give us a clue as to how we should be really spend­ing our time. Maybe we should actu­ally be spend­ing more time IN our com­fort zones.

What do YOU think?


by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan August 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I think you are entirely correct.
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Dawn Barclay August 14, 2013 at 1:16 am

Agree. Thank you.
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Jean Burman August 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

There’s a lot to be said for the comfort of being in the moment… content in your own skin… not needing to be anywhere else or doing anything different. You’re right Jason. Thanks for spelling it out so well in this post :)
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kate hansen August 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm

…what a wonderfully refreshing slant to this new age modern – “do everything to conquer all mindset” !
I agree wholeheartedly with you & thank you for expressing this so eloquently on the WWW ;-)

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Rakesh Narang August 17, 2013 at 8:52 am

The initial stages of learning anything new is always tough, but after a considerable amount of practice, you’ll get over the learning curve and hence fall into the comfort zone.

For me, comfort zone in some areas of my life are beneficial. I cannot focus on more than one or two tasks at once, hence if everything demands full attention, I won’t be able to do any.

Comfort zones are needed!
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Jessica Sweet September 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Yay! I agree and I love it! In fact, I wrote about this idea too: http://wishingwellcoach.com/wordpress/rainman_success/

I think for some things stepping out of your comfort zone is called for, and for others it’s simply not. . . the trick is knowing the difference!

Jess
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Sebastian October 25, 2013 at 10:56 pm

There might be a difference between growth and stepping out of our comfort zone towards things that won’t help us. I’m not a big crowd kind of person. Does that mean I should be going to parties every weekend to push my comfort zone? Well I don’t see the long term rewards of partying so I don’t do it. But I do push my comfort zone with my passions. Every single day.
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