Are Comfort Zone

Paul Gonzalez
• Saturday, 21 November, 2020
• 11 min read

It’s not limited to a secure cord we’ve built around us but includes both our daily routines and way of thinking. The concept of comfort zone goes back to a classic experiment in psychology conducted in 1908 by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson, who explained that a state of relative comfort generated a constant level of performance.

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However, they also pointed out that to improve that performance we need to experience a certain degree of anxiety, go out and conquer a space in which the stress increases a little. New experiments confirmed their theory and stated that the motivation and effort to reach a goal increase until the expectation of success or the level of uncertainty reaches 50%, above that figure we begin to demoralize, we lose motivation and the level of anxiety is so high to unbalance and lead us to make mistakes.

The concept of comfort zone refers to a psychological state in which we feel safe and do not experience anxiety or fear. To stay within the comfort zone we must avoid the risks and the uncertainty, which means that we adopt a passive attitude towards life.

That feeling of security is costly because we are also losing the incentives to live and fall into the clutches of monotony and apathy. That is the reason why we stick to certain places, traditions, habits and/or people, avoiding any element that introduces novelty because it also means uncertainty and chaos.

Learning to live outside the comfort zone, dealing with novelty, unforeseen events and uncertainty will make us people emotionally stronger who can better handle adversity when it occurs. Comfort kills productivity because without that small dose of anxiety that accompanies deadlines and expectations, we tend to do the minimum necessary to achieve mediocre results.

Another possibility is that we fall into the “work trap”, pretending that we are “too busy” as an excuse to stay within our comfort zone and avoid new things. Going a little beyond our limits can make us recover the necessary stimuli and improve our productivity in a thousand possible ways, even resorting to creativity.

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In the comfort zone there are no great ideas or new discoveries, it is necessary to leave the known to find the inspiration that stings creativity. Leaving the comfort zone is a bit scary, but when we do it and achieve our goals we experience an incredible feeling of empowerment.

A study conducted at the University of Texas revealed that leaving the comfort zone helps us preserve cognitive abilities as we get older. Keeping the mind active and considering new challenges is essential since it represents an important source of stimulation both mentally and socially.

Once we know what the comfort zone is and the problems that can cause us becoming too attached to habits and known things, it is clear that it is necessary to get out of that vicious circle in which we entered ourselves. In all cases, the secret lies in finding a balance in which this anxiety for the new and unknown generates a positive state not making us feel bad.

In the growth zone we can learn new things, enrich our points of view, modify our habits and experiment. On the contrary, falling into the zone of panic can become paralyzing and frightening, causing us to return scared to shelter in the original comfort zone.

In the panic zone we experience a deep sense of lack of control and fear of losing what we have achieved. In fact, if we make the mistake of completely forgetting about that comfort zone, we fall into the risk of suffering what is called “Hedonic Adaptation”, which means that new things and experiences cease to impress us and no longer make us feel alive, because we have become accustomed to the adrenaline rush they produce.

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Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained.” However, stress in general can have an adverse effect on decision-making: Fewer alternatives are tried out and more familiar strategies are used, even if they are not helpful anymore.

The main target should be expanding comfort zone and optimal performance zone. ^ Alasdair A. K. White “From Comfort Zone to Performance Management” ^ Bard wick, Judith M. (1995).

“Stress, cognition, and human performance: A literature review and conceptual framework.” Although, a comfort zone can be defined as a state of mind in which people are at ease, in control of their environment and experiencing low level of anxiety and stress, this does not actually sum up the full meaning of a comfort zone.

Therefore, the best way I can define a comfort zone would be a state of mind where a person’s anxiety and vulnerability are minimized to manageable levels. Therefore, what is outside your comfort zone is something that scares or threatens you, and, not necessarily with bodily harm.

However, the problem is making distinctions between these psychological states and knowing when and how far you are willing to leave your comfort zone and when to stay in its confines. Most people who become addicted to their comfort zones usually end up unable to achieve their goals because they’re somewhat obsessed with doing things the same way they’ve always done them even when it’s not producing results.

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As a result, you can never really explore what you’re capable of doing and what you can accomplish if you stick to your comfort zone Even though you’ve not found that thing that makes your heart beat very fast (like love or passion), your comfort zone might push you to settle for less than what you could have if you just stepped out of it.

Start with baby steps and move to strides as you leave your comfort zone. You have to overcome these influences and the conditions that have shaped the boundaries of your comfort zone.

You will also have to change your habits, routines and behaviors that relate to your comfort zone and its boundaries. Expose yourself to new environments that are just outside your comfort zone Don’t overthink your decisions Try new and different things like going somewhere new to eat, going to a different park to read, etc.

Although your comfort zone might be the most comfortable part of your life, it isn’t wise to stay locked in it as it will not allow you to be who you are capable of being. And, most certainly, your big dreams and goals won’t come to pass, so you need to work for them, and you can’t do that from your comfort zone.

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What holds people back most of the time is their frame of mind rather than any distinct lack of knowledge. This article looks at the shifts in thinking required to step outside of comfort and into personal growth.

Along the way, we’ll outline useful tools, tactics, and examples to help make leaving the comfort zone as rewarding as possible. Now firmly embedded in cultural discourse, the metaphor of ‘leaving one’s comfort zone became popular in the 1990s.

This makes sense because in response to anxiety-provoking stimuli, the options are either fight (meet the challenge), flight (run away/hide), or freeze (become paralyzed). The Yerkes–Dodson Law (Yerkes & Dodson, 1907) is true not just for more tangible types of performance, such as being given a stressful new task at work, but also in many life areas such as understanding ourselves, relating to others, and so on.

Yet persevere long enough, and you enter the learning zone, where you gain new skills and deal with challenges resourcefully. After a learning period, a new comfort zone is created, expanding one’s ability to reach even greater heights.

It’s important to state that like most behavioral change attempts, moving into the growth zone becomes harder without some level of self-awareness. In reality, the process of moving from the comfort zone to a growth zone may not be linear.

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While occupying the comfort zone, it’s tempting to feel safe, in control, and that the environment is on an even keel. A full list would require a separate article, so here are four top-line, broadly applicable examples.

As long as the decision to leave the comfort zone aligns with a person’s values, this shift is akin to making a bid for self-actualization. Stanford psychologist Carol Deck’s (2008) work on mindsets marked a paradigm shift in the field of positive psychology.

It inspires us to learn and take healthy risks, leading to positive outcomes across life domains. A habit of expanding our comfort zone equips people to handle change and ambiguity with more poise, leading to resilience.

As outlined by Albert Bandura (1997), self-efficacy is the belief in being able to execute necessary actions in service of a goal. Goals that lead to higher self-efficacy are specific, not too difficult, and short-term (Rayleigh, Lloyd, & Walsh, 2009).

Leaving the comfort zone means a phase of trial and error, during which at least some level of success is inevitable. Both entail a ‘stress response,’ but whether they’re perceived as positive or negative is a matter of labeling.

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An essential step toward internalizing the growth mindset is to embrace neuroplasticity research. Once understood, less courage is needed to make the first move away from comfort because failure itself becomes integral to the journey.

The point is to identify bottlenecks: areas of life where being too comfortable does more harm than good. Leaving behind the comfort zone doesn’t mean recklessly throwing caution to the wind.

Patiently fostering self-awareness while intelligently assessing each zone’s boundaries is a sure way to make the process as smooth as possible. Turn off your smartphone and television while having dinner, decide what to wear more quickly, or just slow down to take in the surroundings on a walk.

Skills like public speaking, negotiation, and leadership can represent a new challenge for many people. Sticking to a healthy diet can be as challenging as it is rewarding, with self-efficacy growing as you hit milestone goals along the way.

Creative endeavors are about stepping into the unknown, with failing and subsequent learning as expected outcomes. Exercising creativity is a good way to train yourself to have a growth mindset and let go of a need for perfection from the outset.

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While exploring alternative perspectives can be uncomfortable, it enables growth and insight by challenging entrenched beliefs. This might take several forms, such as reading varied book genres, diversifying who you talk to, and visiting new places.

Whether being straight with yourself in a private journal or telling someone close how you feel, honesty forces people out of their comfort zone. Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.

PositivePsychology.com is an excellent repository of tools you can leverage in supporting clients to leave their comfort zones behind. Our Toolkit offers various worksheets and exercises designed to help people enter the growth zone and realize their potential.

Exercises challenge them to analyze how their anxieties stop them from pursuing goals that would be meaningful to them. The four zones are explored in more detail, with questions to prompt clients to apply the knowledge to their own lives.

Ultimately, the goal is to trigger a positive upward spiral of personal fulfillment. For any client reluctant to depart from a comfortable routine, reflecting on their future tombstone could be a remarkable incentive to step into a growth mindset.

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Recognizing opportunities to leave the comfort zone isn’t always easy; neither is seizing them with conviction. It’s crucial to cultivate a mindset that lays strong foundations, paving the way toward the growth zone.

This includes seeing yourself as inherently adaptable, reframing stress, and believing in your ability to endure fears and doubts. Or, you can become receptive to opportunities for growth, challenging your personal status quo and seeing what you’re capable of.

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