“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”―Neale Donald Walsh
So many of us gravitate toward our comfort zone because we know what to expect and believe it feels good. In reality, the only way to experience growth is to move OUTSIDE your comfort zone and into your stretch zone. This is where the learning takes place and you experience meaningful moments (aka Top 1% moments) and fulfillment.
Take a pause and reflect on any recent wins (a.k.a. accomplishments) you are proud of achieving. Perhaps you changed jobs, started a business, learned to play the piano, enrolled in an art class, or became debt-free for the first time in years. Did you know what to expect in each of these situations or did you experience a level of uncertainty? Uncertainty is always present as you experience growth. The question is how much uncertainty can you handle?
You’ll notice that as you enjoy new experiences and accomplishments you will move through three zones of action. It’s important to note that what you consider your comfort or stretch zone today often shifts over time. The process of moving between zones is dynamic. The more frequently you move outside your comfort zone, the more comfortable you will get with uncertainty.
Your role is to assess which zone you spend most of your time in and, more importantly, which zone you need to function in to share your best self with the world. You can read more about this topic in my book, Living in YOUR Top 1% (see Ritual Six, Live in Your Stretch Zone).
The comfort zone holds your existing habits. It’s where you feel most comfortable. Your stress levels and challenges are low because you never take any chances. Your mind is less stimulated than in the stretch zone.
CAVEAT: It’s tempting to stay in this zone but you give up the opportunity for learning and growth.
STRETCH ZONE (ideal zone)
The stretch zone is filled with learning and growth. You continuously challenge yourself to improve, and you effectively manage stress levels as you step through each new situation. You condition yourself to deal with uncertainty with each small step forward and small win you experience. You mind is clear, focused, and ripe for great insights.
CAVEAT: Sometimes you will take a chance and it may not turn out as you like. That’s part of the process of growth.
The stress/danger zone leaves you feeling overwhelmed too much of the time. There is never any breathing space and you are stressed the majority of the time. Your mind is cluttered, unfocused, and moments of clarity are rare.
CAVEAT: It’s unsustainable to stay in this zone for extended periods of time if you want to explore your potential.
“The quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably handle.”―Tony Robbins
Here are three questions to help you decide if it’s time to move OUTSIDE your comfort zone:
1. PROGRESS: When was the last time you made meaningful progress in an area of your life (e.g. career, relationships, healthy living, etc.)?
If you can’t remember the last time you accomplished something that excited you, it’s time to pursue a new challenge in this area.
2. MEANINGFUL GOALS: Are you currently pursuing a goal that excites you and adds meaning to your life?
If you have not set a goal in the last year that excites you, it is definitely time to leave your comfort zone behind.
3. SMALL STEPS = BIG RESULTS: Are you taking consistent small steps to achieve the results you want?
If it’s been longer than thirty days, you are ready to move outside your comfort zone with another small step.
TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE: Moving outside your comfort zone is a process and a way of life. Just like you choose (or not) to condition your mind or body, you can choose to move outside your comfort zone and into your STRETCH zone to experience learning and growth. It’s up to you to decide which zone is ideal for you to share your best self and to Live in YOUR Top 1%.
What zone do you need to live in to share your best with the world?
Alissa is a Professional Business/Life Coach, motivational speaker, and author of Living in Your Top 1%. She works with individuals and organizations to help them think bigger, redefine what’s possible, and get results. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has appeared on national radio stations such as CBS and Clear Channel Radio and has worked with the Milken Institute, LA Business Journal, Prostate Cancer Foundation, and NBC Universal. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and Facebook page.