Comfort zones are those familiar, habitual places we return to over and over. They masquerade as cozy routines and habits that seem…… well…innocuous. But considering we often lock the door and throw away the key when we get there you’ve got to wonder about them. While there are times in life when a comfort zone is exactly what the doctor orders a short stay might be advisable vs. taking up permanent residence.
Comfort zones and how firmly we adhere to their boundaries came on my radar a year ago sparked by a pair of red shoes. I quickly discovered I had some clearly defined zones regarding…… shoes (and other things as it turned out). As far as shoes go I realized I only wore black ones…..flat ballet slips and sandals, flat boots of all kinds and high heeled feminine beauties. Yep that was it case closed. A pair of red, chunky looking, wedge type things were not going anywhere near my feet.
But they did.
Not only that they became the catalyst for a (re)examination of life and a subsequent shake up.
For some reason I had built a nice, tidy fortress around shoes. This led me to wonder what larger zones I inhabited. I was on a mission to seek and destroy any and all.
First a definition found in Wikipedia.
The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk (White 2009). A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it.
To step out of the comfort zone raises the anxiety level engendering a stress response. To successfully step outside a person must experiment with new and different behaviors, and then experience the new and different responses that occur within their environment.
Yikes… this did not sound like ME (or rather the ME I saw myself as or wanted to be). Especially now as I was shaping Life Part II and intending to have my greatest impact!
I gamely started identifying comfort zones (routines I meticulously followed or anything I habitually did, ate, read, followed or subscribed to) and pushed through one after another consciously switching things up and replacing with NEW. I loved the ‘other side’ it was fresh and exciting like finding a pot of gold. I grew in awareness, understanding and ability I saw possibilities I didn’t before.
The quote, “Life begins at the end of the comfort zone” was starting to make real sense.
As did the idea that the more you stay in a comfort zone the smaller life gets…the more you leave the bigger it becomes. Uh-huh… that seemed to be the case.
With complete dedication to the task and over the next few months I made a comfort zone sweep of my life. Check. Comfort zones eradicated.
OR so I thought until this week when a suddenly obvious comfort zone defined its parameters.
NEXT……Comfort zones set up camp when we’re not looking.