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Are you aware of your response to change?

Have you thought about your comfort zone? Can you recall a time when you were out of your comfort zone? How did you feel?

  • Anxious?
  • Uncomfortable?
  • Afraid?
  • Out of control?
  • Frustrated?
  • Excited?

What did you do?

Most people are very familiar with their comfort zone. As human beings we crave certainty and try to stay in our comfort zone at any cost. We can go through life denying that we have to do something, blaming someone or something else, and justifying our actions. This makes us a victim of external forces and means we will never move out of our comfort zone.

When we are in our comfort zone we are doing the ‘same old’ stuff. We know the people we work with, we may have had the same desk for some time, we are familiar with our surroundings, the work we do is pretty much the same day to day, and we are not learning anything new.

When you are out of your comfort zone how do you respond? You may experience physical responses such as increased heart rate, sweaty palms, or a knot in the pit of your stomach. We perceive these as negative – to be avoided.

This is evidence that being outside the comfort zone has some relationship to learning new things. By definition, the comfort zone consists of things we know – which means we can’t learn something new from within the comfort zone. The zone outside of the comfort zone could be called the ‘discomfort zone’ and as this is where we learn new things it is also called the ‘learning zone’.

How much we want something, or want to change something, will have a direct relationship to our willingness to feel the ‘pain’ of the learning zone and stay with it until it becomes comfortable and familiar.

We like our comfort zone. However, if we never leave our comfort zone we can’t learn and grow, and we will become bored and complacent.

Moving out our comfort zone can feel like jumping out of a plane and hoping our parachute works.

The more we do something we are uncomfortable about, the more comfortable we become, and the bigger our comfort zone becomes.

Do you know anyone who stays in their comfort zone? When a new idea is suggested or they are asked to do something different, they may respond with things like:

  • ‘That would never work.’
  • ‘That’s not how it’s done.’
  • ‘I could never do that.’
  • ‘I haven’t been trained to do that.’
  • ‘It’s not in my job description.’
  • ‘My family didn’t believe in that.’
  • ‘I’m just a…’
  • ‘It’s because I’m too young.’
  • ‘It’s because I’m too old.’
  • ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’

Others avoidance strategies I hear are:

  • ‘I don’t need to know how to do that.’ (denying the need to learn)
  • ‘I can’t lose weight because I have a slow metabolism.’  (blaming your metabolism)
  • ‘My manager made me…’  (blaming your manager)
  • ‘This isn’t part of my job description.’ (justifying why you can’t do something)
  • ‘I’m late because …’  (justifying why you’re late)

Lateness is a classic. ‘I’m late because of the traffic.’ ‘I’m late because of the trains.’ I understand that you can’t control the traffic and you can’t control the trains. The question is, what can you control? You can change the time you leave, listen to traffic reports, or find other ways to travel. All these things are under your control.

Once you start picking yourself up on this you’ll find that you run out of excuses, which previously might have prevented you from doing things.

Now think of something you have always wanted to do. What are your excuses? They might include ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I can’t afford it’, ‘I’m not skilled enough to do it’, ‘my family wouldn’t approve’, or ‘I don’t really want to do that anyway’.

When you are finding excuses you are being a victim; become a learner instead and keep trying and learning new things.

I’d love to hear how you go.

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