I was coaching a client last week and she brought up something really important about comfort zones. After her session, it came up with several other clients too, and it seems like it’s a thing. When something is a thing, I think it’s important to look under the rock and see what’s going on.
First, the misperception. Have you ever heard the expression: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone?
Here’s the actual quote I just discovered: “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”― Roy T. Bennett
Now we know that it was Roy who said it first. Thanks Roy!
Here’s another one: “The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.”― Benedict Cumberbatch
In my quick little bit o’ research for comfort zone quotes, there was definitely a vibe, essentially stating that if you want to be successful, you need to be outside of your comfort zone.
Many of my clients are high achievers, big dreamers and on-the-go kinds of people (sometimes self-described as type A, although we do aim to steer clear of labels). Here’s the epiphany my client had during our session.
Since her frame of reference is working hard and getting stuff done, she thought that getting out of her comfort zone meant working even harder, pushing through, striving and forcing things to work out in her favour.
Did you think that too? If you do, it’s no wonder. Our culture is still very much about being on hyperdrive. Since my whole come-from is Courageous Self-Care and prioritizing your well-being above all else, that’s where the conversation with my client went.
When the lightbulb went on for her, she realized that being outside of her comfort zone meant not working so hard. It meant doing less, slowing down and learning to prioritize fun instead of leaving it until all the items were checked off her to-do list (which never happens, right?!?).
I had the same conversation with several other clients last week. They were feeling totally unmotivated to push through what they perceived as blocks and at the same time, they were feeling guilty for wanting to be out in nature, tend to their gardens or to read a book.
Do you see how backwards that is?
So here’s the take home message about comfort zones for highly productive people. If you think you’re outside of your comfort zone, but it has a distinctly similar vibe to what life already feels like, then it’s still your comfort zone.
Even that term is a little misleading. Your comfort zone is not necessarily comfortable at all. It’s really more of a familiarity zone. Things are very familiar in there.
If you’re not used to slowing down, then slowing down is going to help you grow and evolve.
If you’re used to forcing, striving and pushing through for things to happen, then the unfamiliar choice is to see what you can let go of so that things get easier and more graceful.
If you tend to leave fun at the bottom of your list so that you’re prolonging your happiness until someday, when all the work is done (ha ha ha ha ha!), then the new choice is putting fun first. Imagine that! What would life be like if you got uncomfortable enough to have fun on a regular basis?
What about your productivity and legendary work ethic? Can you really work less and still achieve your goals? 100% yes. Absolutely. I know it for a fact. When I let go of ¾ of the work I was doing last year, my clients quadrupled.
Same thing in my home life. Over the last few years, my husband and I have experimented with various ways to do less and still have what we want and it’s working out even better than I expected. For example, on Tuesday nights, Oakley (our 12 year old son) makes dinner. On Fridays, Zoe (our newly 16 year old daughter) makes dinner. And if someone makes dinner, they don’t have to clean up. We’ve also divided up all the household work so I’m not doing most of it anymore. Hooray! (And let me tell you, it was not all sunshine and rainbows setting up these systems, but the uncomfortable conversations and emotions were totally worth it.)
So, you may want to rethink your comfort/familiarity zone perspective. If taking a break is what instigates guilt and self-doubt, then that’s something to explore. If having fun is uncomfortable, then get good at scheduling it in… before all the work is done. If you’re of the mindset that harder work will get you what you want, get curious about what you can release.
As our friend Benedict mentioned, it is great fun outside of your comfort zone, especially if you’re making fun a priority. As those uncomfortable emotions come up, notice them, find them in your body, breathe through them and carry on with your liberated self.
You’ll be amazed at what opens up for you when you get uncomfortable enough to put yourself and your well-being at the top of your list.
With boundless love and infinite courage,
Creator of Courageous Self-Care
Comfort Zone Expander
Eater of Fire (just once, because it wasn’t really that fun)
PS - One surefire way to expand your comfort zone is to join us for this month’s Self-Care Masterclass: The Art of Deep Celebration. It will help you take a quantum leap in raising your vibration, getting uncomfortable and celebrating yourself so that you can kickstart your new having-fun-first habit. Click here for details.