We all have one. For some, it’s pretty big. For others it can be rather small. Regardless of its size, the fact is everyone has a comfort zone. However, what each person’s comfort zone represents to them, and how they view their comfort zone can be quite different. I believe how we view our comfort zone has a lot to do with how we view life’s opportunities and challenges.
What I especially like about our comfort zones is that they are flexible and can be stretched and made to grow, becoming ever-larger as we gain new skills and experience and seek new opportunities. My comfort zone also makes me aware of boundaries, either real or perceived, that are holding me back. Its boarder represents opportunities to try new things, travel to new destinations, to meet new people, to learn and to grow. Just beyond its boarder represents endless possibilities for a more enriched and fulfilling life.
The best part is that when we continually venture beyond its borders, our comfort zone expands, providing us with additional opportunities just beyond its newly expanded border. What a great way to live! I’m excited by the thought of having a comfort zone that grows larger with each year.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Where some see a comfort zone a something to be stretched and grown, others see it as the walls of a mighty fortress, never to be breached or crossed. To this mindset, the comfort zone represents the entirety of whom they are and who they will remain. Anything beyond its boundaries is for other people, is impossible to attain, or is too far out of reach. Anything outside of their comfort zone is of no interest.
But there’s one thing even worse than a comfort zone that never expands. That is a comfort zone that has begun to contract. This can occur when, for whatever reason, a person gives up trying to stretch and actively pulls back from activities that cause growth and development. In this scenario, the comfort zone becomes the walls of a prison, within which our growth and potential serve a life sentence.
This is not how our comforts zones should be. As we continually seek to cause something to happen that betters our life and the lives of others, we can be assured that our comfort zones will be stretched as part of the process.
John Maxwell gave a similar illustration with a rubber band in one of his Maximum Impact lessons. His question was, “When is a rubber band the most useful?” The answer: when it is being stretched. How true of our comfort zones as well!
Commit to regularly stretching your comfort zone just beyond its borders. Be mindful of daily opportunities to do so and take advantage of them. Perhaps begin journaling each opportunity you take to expand your comfort zone. Do this and, in the future, look back and see how much you and your comfort zone have grown as a result.