It has been a while since I have posted, I have taken some much-needed recovery during my summer holiday with my family. I will provide an update on my trip to Vietnam and Japan in future posts which I can’t wait to share that with you all! It was a great holiday, though I can’t say that is always the case with my family, see my previous post on Vienna. This time I visited places I have never been to before and really tried to relax. Despite this, I was struggling with guilt as I wanted to spend a lot of time on my blog and work towards my “5-year plan” or “whatever I should plan because I am an adult”.
I tried listening to my body but my mind kept wandering and ended up spending time thinking what is my next topic for the blog should be. I have decided to tackle the difficult topic of comfort zones, it is something that has been on my mind and would love to hear your thoughts about the topic too.
What is a comfort zone?
My comfort zone is something that is very routine and depending on my mental health it could be considered monotonous. It is waking up the same time for work, going to work which I am quite comfortable in doing, then coming home chilling on the sofa watching TV or scrolling through Instagram for the next materialistic item to lust for. It is cushy, chilled and can be considered boring. Yet it is safe so why should I not be happy with this?
There is a lot of literature on this topic and a majority believe that leaving your own comfort zone is necessary for success. Every management book and self-help book would preach this. Yet why should this be the case? Why do we need to stretch ourselves, why is status quo not okay? It can be frustrating when you see diagrams like the below:
In particular the one below – “where the magic happens” – unless it is my acceptance letter for Hogwarts, I find the illustrations unhelpful. Yet I couldn’t help thinking during my holiday that I have been in my comfort zone; bordering on lazy. Now, this should not be an issue if I am happy with where I am. It is okay to be comfortable and lazy. However, when I ask myself whether I am content with life, I can’t honestly say that I am. This may not be applicable to you and it is really awesome if you have found your equilibrium. For myself and probably others, we have to consider what can we do to change this. The school of thinking is that our optimal performance should be when we feel a little bit stressed – “optimal anxiety“. It seems a little sadistic but you know it is true!
In order to be in a space of “optimal anxiety”, I need to put myself in what others have called the “stretch zone”. This is where you feel pressured but not so much that you have a debilitating anxiety attack, which I have had also experienced in the past. Finding the right amount of pressure is a constant flux, sometimes it can get too much and you need to relax a bit (what I call recovery); but other times, you need to ramp it up – the so-called “kick up the butt”.
There are different ways of doing this:
- Moving the goal posts – have you gotten that new promotion? have you beaten a personal best at the gym? Celebrate what you have achieved, however, you need to think what is the next step – it may not be a huge step but it should be planned out. Break down your goals into baby steps means that you can smash and move the goal post daily.
- Be curious & learn – for me, this is the most important thing to keep me happy. Continuous learning is my raison d’etre, I love reading and experiencing new things. This is probably why I love travelling so much. I would encourage you to do the same for whatever you are interested in. By learning and being curious, you know what will find what is out there and break away from monotony.
- Scare yourself once a day – what have you been putting off? Is it asking for that new opportunity you have been researching? Or having that difficult conversation with your manager/friend? I assure you that it will definitely be uncomfortable but I encourage you to go for it! You got this! If you need some ideas to break yourself out of your comfort zone, here is a list of things you could potentially do to ignite that fire within you!
Are fears holding you back?
It is easier said than done to leave your comfort zone and take the leap of faith into the stretch zone. It is scary and our fears hold us back. Jari Roomer summarises this succinctly in this article and I have highlighted some key takeaways below.
Four types of fears
- Fear of Rejection – one of the biggest fears for most people. It can make you feel inadequate and lower self-esteem and confidence. We are biologically programmed to be social creatures and this is why acceptance by others is so important. The easiest way to be accepted is not to stand out – be part of the herd. However, don’t abandon your self-development because others aren’t doing it. Grab that opportunity because you owe it to yourself. Use this to elevate others rather than hold yourself back.
- Fear of Failure – this is pretty self-explanatory, this is the fear that makes us procrastinate. This is one of my greatest fears and this explains my chronic procrastination but remember, not doing anything is the biggest failure than “failing” at your goals. This is a great disservice to yourself, go for it because you will always learn more from doing something that sitting in the back seat. As my boyfriend always like to say “Live & Learn”.
- Fear of Success – this might be surprising to some, but success can be scary because you are in unchartered territory. Personally, I think this should be renamed to “Fear of the Unknown“. The unknown is scary; have you turned down that great opportunity because you are safe where you are. Would people reject you (fear of rejection)? Are you afraid of new responsibilities? Do you fear success because you don’t actually feel worthy or capable of handling success?
- Fear of Ridicule – This is closely aligned to Fear of Rejection, it is subtle, but are you afraid of what people will think of you? Would they think your business idea is stupid and think it will fail? Would they laugh at your failures? Do you think you look ridiculous in your new “influencer” photos? Do you fear that no one would watch your YouTube videos? In order to succeed, a lot of self-improvement books advise that you need to be comfortable and willing to look stupid for a while. Those who stand out because they are willing to take the initiative, try out new ideas, follow unexplored paths or create a better life for themselves, will always be ridiculed by someone.
Overcoming the Fears
It is easy to identify the type of fear we might have, but it is not always as easy to overcome them. This is is why the comfort zone is so comforting! This is a challenge to my readers and myself to try and overcome one of your/our fears this week; I would love to hear how you get on. Remember: it is never as scary as it looks.
Here are a few tips and thoughts that I think are useful to consider:
- You are not alone, fear is human nature.
- Identify and write down your fears and then consider how to tackle them one by one. Remember only to stretch yourself – take that baby step towards it, it is not necessary to push yourself so hard that you enter the “panic zone”.
- Identify and write down the realistic worst case scenario – is it really that bad? Knowing what you is the most you can lose/fail will always give you the upper hand.
- Replace fear with gratitude. Instead of thinking that your business idea will fail, be grateful you have this awesome idea and your entrepreneurial spirit! Gratitude is a powerful tool.
- Rocking chair test – what do you want to be remembered by when you are 80 or 90 years old, are you going to let fear hold you back? You can change the world if you want to.
- Success doesn’t demand a price. Every step forward pays a dividend. Take that first step, even though it is scary because every little helps (Tesco Slogan is surprisingly useful).
- If at first, you don’t succeed, you’ll know you’re aiming high enough.
Best of luck everyone!
With Sweet & Sour Love,
Pineapple Chicken x