I thought I knew everything about my comfort zone. I was convinced I did things every day outside my comfort zone. But then I joined women’s network DrivenWoman and this self deceiving myth got completely blasted out of the water!
I’m a busy person, I get on with stuff. I get things done and I’m always on the go. With 2 children, a job, husband, dog, volunteer commitments, running a home, and having time with friends and family, I was pretty sure that all this action meant that surely I was operating outside my comfort zone as I was doing so many things, life was full.
But, oh how wrong was!
What I learnt is that all of the above IS my comfort zone. I was living inside my comfort zone. This is all the stuff I’m familiar with, this is how my life rolls and this is what I’m doing day in and day out, and most importantly, it’s all this action what was keeping me stuck. I was living inside my comfort zone.
“Comfort is the enemy of progress” – The Greatest Showman
Through doing the ‘Comfort Zone’ Lifeworking exercise, it slowly dawned on me that I had a lot to learn about myself and how I was running my life. I started to realise that how I was leading my life was not going to help me make any progress, and progress was what I so desperately needed and wanted.
Was I ungrateful to want to change something in my life?
For a long time, I knew that I needed to change something to be able to make some personal progress, but I didn’t really know how or what that would be. I just felt like I was in a rut, but also that perhaps I was being a bit ungrateful for where I was at in life – happily married, 2 wonderful growing sons, cosy home and a great network of family and friends.
Having suffered with depression and heard many friends and family say I needed to make more time for me, I knew I needed to do this and wanted to do this but just didn’t know how.
The ‘Comfort Zone’ exercise helped me to realise what my comfort zone was and, very importantly, what my discomfort zone was too – the elusive “time for me”. This included being able to say ‘no’, focus on what I wanted to do with my career and allow me time and opportunity to explore ideas that had been bouncing around in my brain but going no further. This knowledge was very uncomfortable as what I also knew I needed to do was act on it, and that was the hard bit.
Acting on your ideas is uncomfortable.
I made a decision that is still uncomfortable now after living with the decision for a while – to step back completely from a volunteer commitment that I had done for a long time and that had taken up a big place in my life.
With the support of DrivenWoman resources and network, I have stepped back from this commitment to allow me to make room for the many other uncomfortable things I want and need to do to progress. Not doing this role anymore is hard, because I feel guilty and the other opportunities that are opening up are scary but exciting.
I know I want to do this, and by going with the discomfort, it is getting easier, and most importantly, I’m making progress. I am already seeing the results and that is just AMAZING!
When I look back on living inside my comfort zone, the signs were definitely there that showed me I was pushing at the edges of it but not breaking through. Perhaps you will recognise some of them:
Feeling frustrated about numerous things every single day – mainly work, not achieving, hitting obstacles, and just a general feeling of not really achieving anything.
Not being able to say no
Getting involved in lots of different things that were all for a good purpose or cause but not really stretching may talents. I often agreed to things but then a part of me wished I hadn’t because of the time it took up and away from other activities. I felt a lot of resentment building.
This was a niggling feeling that although my life was generally OK, I just wasn’t developing any new skills or knowledge. I’ve always loved to learn but I just felt I wasn’t being stretched intellectually and this was hindering my personal and professional development.
I have always had wanderlust and my urge to travel and explore new lands was in full force! I had no intention of packing up to travel the world but I knew that some kind of exploring was definitely something I wanted.
I hadn’t learnt anything new for so long and I was really craving this in day-to-day life. I was in a rut with my job and there was no development opportunities so I felt very bored. I was still busy, just bored with some of the busy things I was doing.
DrivenWoman has also taught me that everyone’s comfort zone is different and that our comfort zone is constantly shifting as we get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I urge you to know and understand your comfort zone as much as you know your discomfort zone. This will inevitably open new exciting doors for you.
Claire Nicoll is a DrivenWoman Group Leader in Staffordshire, UK. She is now works for herself and is passionate about making flexible working a possibility for all those who want and need it.