What’s outside your comfort zone? You may think ‘Here be dragons!’ but the reality is that outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. Where our lives change, we new possibilities enter and where we can live the life of our dreams!. The thing is, most of us know all this and yet despite this, we hesitate or tie ourselves into knots of fear at the mere thought of leaving the safety of that comfort zone! This can be for many reasons. Perhaps we have been made to think we are not good enough, that we will fail, that we will look stupid, that we will meet with rejection, ridicule – the list goes on and on. But really, leaving your comfort zone isn’t that difficult.
The problem is that most of us associate stepping out of our zones with immediately entering the dragon’s den. We will be overwhelmed, scared and realise too late we have attempted too much. That’s because we are brought up to believe that outside our comfort zones is nothing else but a big, scary landscape full of unknowns. But the thing is, that’s just not true.
Think of your comfort zone as a circle. Make it any colour you want – let’s say it’s pink. You feel confident and safe in your comfort zone. You feel in control and that your abilities are not being challenged. The people who inhabit your comfort zone with you like and accept you. It’s safe in here. No wonder you’re comfortable. Now – imagine another circle and make this one as big as you like and imagine this contains everything you might want to attempt, create, try, do, learn or master. Your comfort zone probably looks like an island in the middle of a vast ocean, doesn’t it? It looks like you would be out of your depth pretty quickly out there, right? Maybe this zone is black or a dark shade to reflect its unknown quality. This is your fear zone and it is this zone that prevents us from trying out new things, new opportunities, meeting new people, learning new skills or applying for that dream job. No wonder we often don’t want to put a foot into these deep waters. We may drown.
But what if I told you there was a third zone out there? Imagine your two circles again – your comfort zone island and the vast fear zone beyond it and now imagine drawing another circle outside of your comfort zone – say double the size of your comfort zone but it doesn’t stretch all the way out into your fear zone. Think of your comfort zone as the Sun and this new circle you have drawn as the orbit of a planet. Make this new circle an inviting, warm colour – orange, coral, turquoise, yellow – whatever calls to you. This is your stretch zone and it is the place professional confidence coaches ask us to imagine when we are seeking the confidence to master new things and change our lives. It allows us to push through our barriers and begin to discover all we are capable of – but without making it too much of a big step – which is where so many of us fail.
So, break down your goals into stages and decide what is the first step that will take you out into your stretch zone. As you master that, your comfort zone expands and so does the stretch zone. In the end you’ll see that by stretching yourself a little at a time at a pace that seems safe for you, that fear zone is no longer a thing to be scared of – there’s too much magic happening for you to be held back now!
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