This is how I visualize my comfort zone – it’s like a big bubble with clear and elastic walls, shining with the shades of the rainbow.
I’m inside the bubble, and I know that if I don’t keep moving around and pushing on its walls, it will start to collapse inwards, until eventually it is wrapped around me like clingfilm (gladwrap if you’re American), clinging tightly to me so I can’t move, stifling me.
Conversely, if I keep moving and pushing on those walls, I can actually make the bubble of my comfort zone bigger and bigger, expanding it until I can go anywhere and do almost anything, all within my comfort zone.
But if I push too hard and too far on a single point in the wall, there is a danger I’ll burst the bubble and then we’re in a horrible mess. So the goal is to keep pushing, but not pushing so far that it bursts. And also to realize that an expanded comfort zone has to be maintained, that it is never static, that it is always either expanding or contracting, but never staying the same.
Of course, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with having a small comfort zone, if all you want to do is live a small life. No problem if you want to have your daily routine and your safe parameters and not venture beyond your bubble to try something new.
But if you’re reading this blog, I suspect that you want something more, that you’re tired of being constrained by your own fears and that you want to expand your horizons.
So try this: make a list of things you’d like to do but at the moment they’re outside your comfort zone. Then put them in order of least scary to most scary. Look at the first one on your re-ordered list, the least scary one. Is it still too scary?
If it is, don’t panic. The objective here is not to scare you so much that you retreat into the cozy core of your comfort zone, never to emerge again. There are relatively unscary ways to get this started.
Think hard of an interim step (or several) that will bridge the gap between what you feel comfortable with, and the thing that scares you. Start with something that takes you just a little bit outside your comfort zone, and work outwards and upwards, towards your goal. At each stage congratulate yourself on a job well done, and feel the glow of satisfaction that comes from having set yourself a challenge and rising to the occasion, of stepping outside your comfort zone and not shrinking from the task.
Be warned – it becomes addictive. You’ll start enjoying the thrill of the challenge. You will become unstoppable. Sound good?!