When your comfort zone becomes a danger zone
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is for those who take risks. Those who do not take any risks take the greatest risk of all. The greatest risk in life is to wait for and depend upon others for your security and the greatest security is to plan and act, and to take the risks necessary that will make you independent, joyful and fulfilled. It feels nice to be comfortable, but if we are comfortable all the time, we miss the chance to stretch and grow. A ship is safe in a harbour, but that is not what ships are for. Helen Keller said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Life is either a daring adventure or it’s nothing at all.”
Albert Einstein once said, “Without mystery, life is as meaningless as a snuffed out candle.” Mystery, by definition, resides in the unknown, which of course, in turn, resides outside our comfort zones.
It is difficult for some people to resist the temptation to force themselves into the pattern of being average. One needs only to remember that a groove may be safe – but as one wears away at it, the groove becomes first a rut, and then finally a grave. John Whittier, a popular New England 19th century poet, wrote an often quoted poem describing a life in which one does not break out of their comfort zones and realise their dreams:
Alas for maiden, alas for judge,
For rich repriner and household drudge!
God pity them both! And pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall:
For of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these, it might have been!
If you ask Steven Hawking, the world’s foremost physicist, about the universe, he will respond by saying, “It has no beginning in time, no ending in time, and no edges in space, and nothing for a creator to do.” If you think about this, it is impossible to comprehend. The secret to perpetual growth is to develop the habit to live outside of your comfort zone. As a prominent scientist from the early part of the 20th century once said, “The universe is not only stranger than we think; it is stranger than we can think.”
The reason why functioning within your comfort zone is the norm, rather than the exception, is that it tends to regulate our life and, on the surface, seems to make things easier. Within that comfort zone, we develop a pattern of successfully caring for our basic needs. The problem is that remaining in the comfort zone also causes us to underachieve. So, let me ask you a direct question: Is your comfort zone holding you back from reaching you potential? Is it holding you back from living your purpose or setting and reaching worthy goals?
The most effective way to break out of your comfort zone is to set higher goals and create an ACTION PLAN. This action plan will clarify your purpose and help you to identify the internal barriers that may be in your way. Your action steps must take some risk. You simply must live outside your comfort zone, in order to grow.
It is critical for you to focus on the habit of comfort zone EXPANSION. This literally means PERPETUAL GROWTH. The Roman Empire flourished and dominated the world for over 1,000 years; yet when its primary focus of planning, building and economic expansion was replaced with luxury and pleasure, the empire crumbled, and it crumbled from within. Luxury and pleasure are wonderful, but they will be your downfall, unless they are combined with planning and commitment for achievement. In fact, your upkeep will become your downfall, if your outgo exceeds your income.
When we find ourselves settling for security and stability, at the expense of transformation, transition and growth, we are making a big mistake. Emerson put it this way, “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”
Most people are inhibited by the fear of committing themselves to action. They do not understand that to risk is to exceed one’s usual limits in reaching for any goal, and that uncertainty and danger are simply part of the territory. To get profit without risk, experience without danger, and reward without work, is as impossible as it is to live without being born.
Children who are cared for by parents who are inconsistent in nurturing or who are emotionally absent or unaffectionate or passive, produce, in their turn, children who become adults with one overriding need: to limit any potential loss of love in their lives.
Feelings follow a predictable, invariable pattern. When a loss threatens you, you feel anxious. When a loss occurs, you feel hurt. When hurt is unresolved, it becomes anger. When anger is held back, it creates guilt. When guilt is unrelieved, depression occurs. If you take care of your fear, hurt, and anger, guilt and depression cannot happen.
The primary reason we are uncomfortable with comfort zone expansion is fear, which can be defined as False Evidence Appearing Real. Avoiding risk, staying with a limited belief system, will guarantee failure and self-imposed bondage.
People who stay within their comfort zones are risk-adverse. They are stuck in mediocrity. Those who choose caution over challenge and opportunity do well to listen to Germane Green who said, “Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is denial of life.” Earle Nightingale, who is called the Dean of Human Achievement, said simply, “Security? There is no security! There is only opportunity.”
The future belongs to those rare few men and women who dare to move out of their comfort zones, into the area of uncertainty or challenge. Remember the words of the great German philosopher, Goethe, who said, “Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid.”
Culled from SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE by RICHARD CARSWELL