Escaping Your Comfort Zone

A class debated whether one should work within their comfort zone or not.

“You sit, eat, sleep, walk, talk, and do every other action in the way that is comfortable for you. Anyway, the actions are done. So why should one break the comfort zone?” Rohan, the most popular guy said.

Everyone seemed impressed and convinced about his school of thought.

Suddenly a shrill voice was heard, “Because success and hard work is not any other action. If it was as easy as walking and talking, every other person would be successful. Your actions will be done. But that will not be 100% performance. The difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ is just that little ‘extra.’ “

It was the Principal, whose eyes twinkled as he spoke.

A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. It is a state of mind where a person’s anxiety and vulnerability are minimized to manageable levels. It is that area of your life in which you feel in control.

For example, some people love to go to work every morning and are used to the routine of going to work daily such that their work becomes their comfort zone, and leaving this comfort zone to become a freelancer or an entrepreneur can be very challenging for them. Of course, for others, a comfort zone could be the time they take their meals or that time after work when they relax in front of their television or with social media after a hectic day at work. Of course, comfort zones are not static because they change based on the areas of your life you feel most comfortable with.

The ‘comfort zone’ is an artificial construct, a mental concept; it’s a boundary you’ve created that exists only in your own mind.
You’re afraid of failure, of making mistakes, of looking foolish; you worry about what other people might think or say; you think you’re not good enough, or you think you’re so good that you have to stay in this prestigious job and keep progressing in the company. You may be overwhelmed by all the options, unsure of where to start. You may simply be lazy.
On the other hand, it may be the very possibility of success that you’re afraid of, your power to change your life, and the accountability that comes with this. You may be avoiding that responsibility by procrastinating, putting off action until tomorrow while making convenient excuses for it

The majority of the people rather be in a place they are used to the outcome than step out and become vulnerable and endangered. They like that they feel safe and secure, confident, and in control. Stress and anxiety are minimal as they’ve already mastered the problems that exist in their world. They know what’s coming next and they have rules and habits in place to deal with everything.

Whilst this could be soothing, there’s another side to staying in one’s comfort zone. On that side, you experience stagnation, frustration, and a feeling of being stuck as your comfort zone inevitably shrinks around you. When you are in your comfort zone, you become too comfortable and complacent. If you don’t perform activities that somewhat scare or challenge you, you miss out on growth opportunities. Your comfort zone conditions you to settle no matter how much potential and skill you may have. There is barely any room for development when in this zone.
It’s easy to do what you’re used to doing and staying within the confines of least resistance, but if you want to make progress in your life, you need to break free from what holds you back.

Just as ships are not designed for the confines of the safe harbor, neither are human beings. We are designed to sail the wide-open oceans, to push the boundaries of what we can achieve, to unlock the latent potential lying dormant, and to discover we really do have the potential from within to reach places we did not even know we were capable of getting to.
They say that outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. When you push the boundaries of what you feel is comfortable and challenge yourself to try new things, when you go on an adventure, when you explore and experiment and, yes, take a bit of a risk – that’s when you learn and grow and, ultimately, you achieve your deepest, darkest desires.

To escape your comfort zone, you need to recognize that you are stuck in your comfort zone. Lots of people are stuck in their comfort zone without knowing it. They think they are doing just fine and associate stagnancy and monotonous routine with the general state of the society or personality, but in an actual sense, they are simply being stuck in their comfort zone. If you mastered all the components of your life, can’t remember the last time you tried something new, mostly bored and unenthusiastic, say “No” when you are asked to do something new or inconvenient and procrastinate as often as you breathe, odds are you are stuck in your comfort zone. Recognizing this makes it easy to seek and welcome solution to break out.

Secondly, Identify and Face Your Fears. Make a list of all your fears and phobias. Think about where each is rooted. Some fears are based on trauma or experience, and some are based on a lack of information. You may notice that some fears exist without any reason to speak of. If you have never thought about things this way before, you will probably find yourself with many fears that are quite irrational. Try to differentiate your well-founded fears from those which are based on feeble premises, like hearsay or lack of proper understanding. Then, think about all the perfectly harmless things you have been avoiding because of these fears. Once you have done this, start facing them one by one. Starting with the weakest fear.

Also, Surround Yourself with Positive Examples. Very few things have more influential power over us than the people we interact with most. Make sure this fact is working in your favor instead of against you. When you surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do, you can let their progress inspire your own.

People who remain in their comfort zone do not accomplish much. It takes no effort to live a life of comfort settling for mediocrity.
You have to try new things, be fearless, bold, courageous, daring, and adventurous, and believe that you can accomplish more. Remember that you can never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone because change begins at the end of your comfort zone.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

The Value of Failure

Once upon a time, about one hundred years ago, a partially deaf four-year-old kid came home from school with a note in his pocket from his teacher. It read: “Your Tommy is too stupid to learn. We cannot have him at our school.”
His mother decided to teach him herself. Partially deaf and with only three months of formal schooling Tommy grew up to be Thomas. Thomas Edison. Yes, and that Thomas Edison would forever change how we lived and communicated. En route to one of his most famous inventions, he failed approximately 10,000 times before he succeeded in getting a light bulb to glow.
He later remarked, “I never failed. I just found 10,000 ways that wouldn’t work.” Of people who give up too soon, he said, “Many of life’s failures are people who gave up too soon.”

You may be surprised to know that Steve Jobs – the man that has made Apple into one of the most successful and richest companies in the world, the man behind the super-successful iPhone, iPod, and the iPad, and the man who singlehandedly revolutionized the tech industry as we knew it – was not only a fired tech executive and an unsuccessful businessman, he was also unceremoniously removed from Apple, the company he founded, when he was 30. This is what he said about his failure: “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life”.

Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time, was cut from his high school basketball team! A then-young Michael Jordan went home and cried in the privacy of his bedroom. “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed!” is what he has to say about failure!

J.K Rowling is the perfect example that success can come to anyone at any time.
She is now doing the backstroke through a pool of Harry Potter money, but that was not always the case.

Rowling always planned on being a writer. But life interfered.
She battled depression over the untimely death of her mother. Her first marriage failed and she was left trying to provide for herself and raise a young child alone while living on welfare, going to school, and trying to work on a novel in her nonexistent spare time.
Rowling herself said she was the “biggest failure I knew” and credits a lot of her success to her failure.

Before Harry Potter became a success she was a divorced mother, living on welfare, going to school, and trying to write a novel in her spare time.

At a Harvard commencement speech, Rowling had this to say about failure.

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”

These are inspiring stories of famous failures and many others we did not mention.

When people hear or think about failure, it is like a deathtrap. When we think about it, we think of things in a negative light so much that we become myopic to the positives that could result from it. We have (sub) consciously seen failure as an end rather than a means to the desired end. We say that failure is painful and that it causes emotional turmoil and upset, and inflict agonizing pangs of guilt, regret, and remorse, but for those that have known true failure and have bounced back from it, understand that failure in life is necessary for success

Failure, as much as it hurts, is an important part of life. Nobody particularly enjoys failing, but failure, through its life-altering lessons, makes us into better persons. Behind every success story is an embarrassing first effort, a stumble, a setback, or a radical change of direction. If you try to go through life without failing at anything, then you’re not really living a life at all. Taking risks and falling flat on our faces is part of life; it makes us into who we are.

When a baby is first learning to walk, she’s going to fall many times. This is a failure; but eventually, through failed attempts and perseverance, that baby surely walks. The mother doesn’t give up on her baby and is so confident that her baby will walk someday because she very well knows that falling and failing while learning to walk is just a part of life. So, why isn’t a failure at other things treated this way?

Society tends to celebrate the successes rather than highlighting the epic journeys towards success that are filled with trials, tribulations, upsets, setbacks, and for this reason, people have a negative mindset towards failure and completely feel defeated after the first setback.
There’s a need to understand that what defines a person is not how many times they fail but how well they learned from their failures and how they bounced back from it. Failure is inevitable, but whether you learned or not from your previous failures and how well you apply the lessons to your life determines how successful you will become.

How you choose to interpret your failures will either move you forward in life or hold you back. Every failure can be turned into a stepping stone to success. Every mistake is a lesson in what not to do. Every setback is an opportunity to dig deeper into yourself, to access resources you didn’t know you have, and to acquire wisdom you could gain no other way.

There is no failure except in no longer trying.

The Motives Behind Your Actions

It’s been said that “It is motive alone which gives character to the actions of men”

For ten years, John has worked alongside Samantha. They are friendly. They go for drinks after work. They hang out on the weekend from time to time. John tells Samantha about his relationships, his career goals, and his dreams. It’s a nice, mutually enjoyable situation.
Over time, John develops feelings for Samantha. Subconsciously, he creates an entire alternate version of their encounters. Friendliness over drinks turns into flirtation. A hug goodbye with a kiss on the cheek becomes an indication of things to come. Yet, at no point does Samantha ever indicate in any way she is interested in John.

One day, Samantha is called out of the office for an emergency. As she rushes out of the door, John follows her and asks what is wrong. As she runs to the parking lot and toward her car, she yells behind her, “My husband just woke up from a coma!”

In the beginning, John was motivated by the desire to settle down and get married, to enter a relationship with a person he liked and found desirable. He began to write mental scripts of expectations detailing a future with Samantha. To protect himself and hold onto this denial, he never came out and made a move on Samantha or asked if she was interested in a relationship. After all, such a direct action would result in a final answer.

John doesn’t want a final answer; he wants the whisper of hope. From Samantha’s standpoint, she simply didn’t want to discuss her husband’s condition. Years before, he had been hit by a car and she spent her weekends in the hospital, reading to him at his bedside. It was emotionally exhausting. One of the few moments of respite she got to enjoy in her life was her work lunches or going out with friends after leaving the office.

Samantha did nothing wrong. She had no obligation to tell anyone about her husband or his condition. She never led John on or indicated she wanted a relationship. John never made a move on her or asked her out on a date, both of which would have immediately led her to put up boundaries. Now, she has to work in a somewhat hostile environment that was in no way her own fault.

Motives are something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive. The goal or object of a person’s actions. More often than not, these motives are only known to the bearer like in the case of John –who had come across as nothing but a genuinely nice colleague to Samantha.

Everyone acts with an intention and motive. There’s is usually a reason we are nicer to a person than the rest, an intention behind our good deeds to people, motives behind sacrifices we make for others, and then the voice we lend to others. There is no such thing as doing things for doing sake or saying things at face value. More often than not, we weigh our advantages, what we stand to gain, and what not before pursuing an action that appears innocent to others. There appear to be numerous ulterior personal motives on the part of the majority of people driving this process.

Have you ever felt a person was benevolent to you, was always there for you, and did things to please you, and then you judged them to be genuinely good people who had pure intentions only to discover eventually that their good deed was because of something they would later need you to do for them?

John in our story might be a nice guy, but he is certainly not going for drinks or spending the weekend with the rest of his colleagues. His actions may have appeared innocent to others, but within him, he knew very well the reasons behind his actions to Samantha. This goes to tell us that typically, humans act with a motive. People’s behavior makes sense if you start thinking about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives.

Ulterior motives include certain forms of emotional highs, narcissism, and immaturity. It is a motive intentionally hidden, not revealed, or below the surface. Ultimately, not all people will have ulterior motives, but a majority of self-serving interests. People will rather do what would be in their best interest regardless of a common good or towards the completion of a cause.

We should know that pure and selfish motives are often intermingled. You can send money to charity because you care about starving children yet also in order to free yourself of guilt for being born in a rich rather than a poor country. You can jump to save a drowning child because you care about the child, but also because you want to be a hero. (You may prefer to be the one to do it rather than someone else. The child will be saved in both cases, but you will be the hero in the first case only.)

What are the true motives behind your seemingly innocent actions? The times you come across as generous, the voice of the people, philanthropist, advocate or activist, and other selfless titles you have accumulated? Are your intentions pure and selfless or there’s below the surface motive?
When you patronize a public figure, speak in support of someone or give attention and time to solve the tasks or a superior, do you do these things for pure intentions or there’s something you are looking to gain at the end of the day?

Be careful to think having a motive behind your deeds makes you a bad person because it doesn’t.

Having motives is a great step towards achieving our goals. This is because it serves as the why that keeps us focused in pursuit of something; however, we must be careful not to deceive people or lead them on with our fictitious intentions. It is easier for people to make promises and declare pure intentions than it is for their actions to match those words or bogus intentions because, at the end of the day, their actions will only be in sync with their true intention.

When this is the case, it becomes impossible for people to trust you and you lose integrity.

Having ulterior motives is not always a bad thing. It’s the motives that determine whether it is good or bad. Motives reveal why we do what we do which is actually more important than what we are doing. That said, be careful not to be crooked as a barrel of fish. The moment there is suspicion about your motives, everything you do becomes tainted.