More About Comfort Zones

What exactly is your comfort zone? Here is Susan’s explanation from Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway:

Most of us operate within a zone that feels right, and outside of it we are uncomfortable. For example, we might spend $50 for a pair of shoes, but $100 would make us nervous. We might be willing to initiate friendships with people at the office who are at our level in the company, but would be uncomfortable doing so with one of the higher-ups. We might be comfortable hanging out with a few friends we know well, but are reluctant to go to a large New Year’s party with more strangers than friends or to a professional convention with colleagues we don’t know well. We might go to the local deli when eating alone but would feel really uncomfortable in a luxurious restaurant all by ourself. We might ask for a $5,000 raise, but asking for a $7,000 raise would make us cringe. We may charge $30 an hour for our services, but we don’t feel we are worth $35. And so on.

For each one of us that zone of comfort is different, but whether we are aware of it or not, all of us—rich or poor, famous or unknown, gay or straight, male or female or whatever our gender identity—make decisions based on the confines of that comfortable space.

With the current state of technology, it has become easier than ever to stay within our narrowly defined comfort zone. We don’t have to visit stores to shop—we can just order online anything our hearts desire, and thereby avoid interacting with salespeople. When a phone call could clear up a question in seconds, how many of us dodge a conversation by sending an email or text? We don’t have to meet with people in person when we can talk to them online. For many of us, forgoing personal interactions defines our lifestyle in the 21st century. All these new ways of communicating allow us to get really cozy in our comfort zones, but real power comes from seeking to step out of them.

I suggest that each day you do something that widens that space for you. Call someone who seems intimidating, buy something that you need that costs more than you would ever have paid in the past, ask for something you want that you have been too frightened to ask for before. Take a risk a day—one

Small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you’ve done it. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, at least you’ve tried. You didn’t sit back . . . powerless.