It’s warm and cozy isn’t it?
I’m talking about that nice little comfort zone of yours.
Let’s be honest, some of us have gotten so comfortable, we don’t even realize when we are hindering our personal, professional, spiritual, and physical growth by clinging to said comfort zone.
A few days ago, I asked you all on social media to tell me what you’d like me to write about and a couple of you expressed that the struggle is all too real when it comes to doing things that challenge and scare you. It’s a common theme and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
Believe it or not, I too, struggle with leaving my comfort zone sometimes. I honestly think our comfort zone exists as a kind of “gatekeeper” or “protector”.
It’s like our mind and body telling us to think twice. The PROBLEM is it’s just a checkpoint. You are not meant to dwell there, sis. You are meant to analyze the situation and then move forward, because there’s no greater killer of dreams than an extended stay in the comfort of your comfort zone.
I’ll say that again,
“there’s no greater killer of dreams than an extended stay in the comfort of your comfort zone!”
What is a comfort zone and why do we have this natural tendency to cling to it?
Cambridge Dictionary describes a comfort zone as,
- “a situation in which you feel comfortable and in which your ability and determination are not being tested”
- “a situation in which you feel comfortable and you do not have to do anything new or difficult”
But, I really like Wikipedia’s definition which states that:
- “A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.”
Source Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_zone
My personal definition is a little less eloquent:
“A comfort zone is a place where dreams go to die.”
With that said, it’s obvious why we have this natural tendency to cling to our comfort zone, right? I mean who wouldn’t want to feel safe, secure, less stressed, less anxious, and comfortable? Life is hard enough, right?
What does “living in your comfort zone” look like?
I have three examples to help you get a clear picture of what living in your comfort zone actually looks like in practice. These three examples are not exhaustive, but they will give you a good indication as to whether you are guilty of dwelling in yours or not.
Example 1: The “I’ve always wanted to do that” person
Have you ever said this phrase to someone or heard someone say it to you?
I have. The conversation went like this:
Person: Omg, I see you just published a book! You are on your shit girl! I’m so proud of you. I’ve always wanted to write a book.
Me: Thank you so much, love. I appreciate the support. It was on my bucket list, so I decided to go for it. Why haven’t you written a book?
Person: I wouldn’t even know where to begin, girl. Plus, who would even read it? I’ve just been so busy, but I will write one eventually. You’ve definitely inspired me.
Me: Just start girl. Write it for you, not for anyone else.
Can you spot the resistance?
I only shared a very watered-down snippet of this conversation, but this person had so many reservations. They were busy, didn’t know where to start, unsure what to write about, didn’t think they could get a publisher, they weren’t a good enough writer, and all these other excuses to not move forward with their goal of writing a book.
The truth is:
In order to write that book, they’d have to leave the comfort of their comfort zone. They’d have to take actions that are uncomfortable and challenging.
Reread the excuses for not moving forward and tell me if you can come up with a solution for each.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait…
Excuse #1: “I’m busy”
Solution: Are you busy at 5:30a.m.? Why not wake up earlier every morning to write 200 to 300 words per day five days a week?
Excuse #2: “I don’t know where to begin.”
Solution: Are there books on writing your first book? Why not pick three and start reading them! That’s what I did. In fact, here are the three books that helped me write “The Millennial’s Unconventional Guide to Retiring Every Other Year”
- You Are a Writer by Seth Goins (AFFILIATE LINK)
- Published by Chandler Bolt (AFFILIATE LINK)
- You Must Write a Book by Honoree Corder (AFFILIATE LINK)
Start with those.
Excuse #3: “I don’t know what to write about”
Solution: Is there a topic people always come to you to talk about? How about starting there! No? Then start writing about your life. No one knows you better than you.
Excuse #4: “I don’t think I will find a publisher who will accept my work.”
Solution: Don’t we live in an age of self-publishing platforms? Why not say “screw traditional publishing” and publish the damn book yourself! Amazon Kindle has made plenty of authors rich.
Excuse #5: “I’m not a good enough writer.”
Solution: Is writing a skill that is learned or is it like singing and you have to be born with it? You know the answer. Writing is a learned skill and if you want to improve bad enough there are amazing courses out there that will teach you to be a badass writer. Your skill is waiting for you just outside of that comfort zone.
Example 2: The “I’m just not cut out for that” person
Have you ever said something similar to this when someone presented you with a task that appeared challenging?
I have. The conversation went like this:
Husband: Babe I would love to take you hiking and camping in the mountains in Washington sometime.
Me: Listen, you married a Black woman okay! We don’t hike, nor camp. We drive to the location and we GLAMP. (Cringe: Such a limiting belief and horrible stereotype I was perpetuating)
Husband: I know plenty of Black people who camp and hike!
Me: Name one….
I laugh a little when I think back to this conversation because I was so wrong for stereotyping Black women as people who don’t hike or go camping.
Here’s the truth,
I know PLENTY of Black women who hike and like going camping, but I told my husband that I didn’t because I was scared. It would have made me extremely uncomfortable to go hiking.
- First of all, I have zero endurance so I would probably slow him down 20 minutes in.
- Secondly, I am a germaphobe, so I hate the idea of eating and sleeping out in nature.
- Last but certainly not least, when it comes to physical activity outside of dancing, I am lazy!
Sure, I could have committed to training at the gym for the hike or investing in a nice camping set, but the truth is I was chilling inside of my comfort zone and he was trying to pull me out of it.
With time, I’ve become more self-aware so I realize what I was doing and now I am prepared to challenge myself and allow him to take me hiking (camping will come later-baby steps folks!)
Example 3: The “I’m not where I want to be in life” person
I’m sure you or someone you know has been dissatisfied with some or all aspects of life at one time or another. It’s natural. We live in a world of complainers. Present company included.
You know how many times I’ve said I was unhappy with my weight, and in the same breath turned around and inhaled a whole pot of pasta? Or how about the number of times I’ve claimed to want a better relationship with my sister, and then proceeded not to call her for an entire month?
Do I even have to mention the number of times I’ve heard people say they absolutely loathe their job, and three months later they’re still with the company? Listen, I know people have their reasons for staying, but if we’re being honest, people are comfortable in their misery and they don’t even realize it. They’ve gotten so used to the discomfort and misery of their job, that they’ve become comfortable with it! Try to wrap your head around that one.
You ever meet someone who absolutely hated where they lived, but every time you asked them about moving, they gave you some excuse?
Simply put, it’s just in us to complain about not being where we want to be or not being “successful”. Some would argue we just don’t want it bad enough.
Eric Thomas, the Hip Hop Preacher, went viral for telling the story of the guru and his pupil. In short, the pupil told his guru he wanted to be successful and asked him how he could achieve this. The guru asked his student, “how bad do you want it.” Then, the pupil said, “I want it real bad.” After that, the guru made his pupil walk into the ocean and proceeded to push his head under water, unexpectedly. Struggling to bring his head above water, the pupil fought to breathe, but the guru wouldn’t let up. When the pupil almost lost hope, the guru pulls him up and says,
“when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”
Uhhhh…[insert mic drop]
An unconventional way to teach this lesson, indeed, but I’d imagine the guru’s student got the point.
Go Ahead and Say “Bye Felicia” to that Comfort Zone
I don’t know folks, I’m just at a point in my life where I’m no longer interested in living within anyone’s comfort zone, including my own. In fact, discomfort is my new best friend because I know the truth. I know that zone was never intended for me to dwell in forever. I know that everything bold, powerful, unconventional, and exciting is resting right outside of that zone.
Procrastination, self-doubt, excuses, low self-esteem, lack of follow-through, are all the factors that keep us inside of our comfort zones, our parents comfort zones. I don’t know one successful person who was comfortable on their journey to success.
Don’t be the person in the conversation who says,“Oh, I’ve always wanted to do that.”Just go do it.
Don’t be the person in the conversation who says, “Oh, I’m not cut out for that.”Just go learn it.
Don’t be the person in the conversation who says, “Oh, I’m not happy with the way my life is going.” Just go design and start living the life you’ll be happy in then.
I don’t mean to come down hard,
but the truth is if you are healthy, able-bodied, and you’ve reached at least the first two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, then you are more than capable of saying “Bye Felicia” to your comfort zone.
What that will look like for you specifically, I have no idea. Could be you waking up earlier to start writing your book, could be going to the gym three times a week, and it could even be putting in your two-week resignation notice at work.
All I know is this,
The longer you wait to be who God [insert ‘Universe’ if you don’t believe] has called you to be, the longer good people will suffer.
Be the kind of person that reads a statement like that and says,
“No, uh uh, not on my watch, sis! Comfort zone be gone!”