Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

 

Have you ever felt like you were just going through the motions of your day-to-day routine? Do you consistently question the direction you’re headed but are too afraid to make certain changes?  Let’s talk about our "comfort zone". 

1. The Science behind our Comfort Zone

The comfort zone is a mental state in which we tend to feel familiar, at ease and in control.  Stepping out of it tends to raise anxiety and causes a stress response.  This stress response is known as the ‘optimal performance zone’ where performance and skills are enhanced.  Performance declines if anxiety levels rise beyond a certain point (i.e. the “danger zone”). If we let fear dictate our direction we may end up feeling stuck in our comfort zone. The result will leave us feeling uninspired and unhappy.  

2.  My Comfort Zone

Ask yourself these questions.  Do you embrace challenges? Or is your preference to follow rigid routines and organize every aspect of your life? For myself personally, I'm an extreme planner and organizer. I never thought I was the type to embrace change easily. I realized that I was afraid to face certain challenges and goals. Realizing that I was not as rigid and inflexible as I thought I was, it was time to face these challenges.

Challenge #1 - I have a real fear of heights. If I find myself standing at a certain elevation and I can’t look down, you will usually find me with my eyes closed. Have you heard the phrase, “when in Rome?” Well, for me…it was Paris and the Eiffel Tower. As one usually does when visiting the Eiffel Tower, we took the elevator to the top. Then a crazy thought occurred to me. Why not face my fear of heights in Paris?!   I don’t know what possessed me to face this fear but I did.  I actually WALKED DOWN the Eiffel Tower! Anyone who has a real fear of heights knows that looking down is a big no-no. And walking down without looking down was a huge challenge. I picked the back of my husbands head as my viewpoint the whole way down. Did I mention I was also 6 months pregnant and hanging on for dear life the whole way down? Now it may not seem like a big deal but let me give you some perspective. It wasn’t too long before this episode I needed to call the authorities for help after climbing a ladder with my 3 year old at an indoor children’s playground. I literally froze and lost my pelvic floor.   

CHALLENGE #2 – I enjoy a healthy lifestyle and consider myself generally active. I enjoy the routine of attending instructed fitness classes.  I'm also not competitive and am the first person to quit if a game of Monopoly gets too heated. Here is another challenge I can throw into the bucket. I’ve been asked many times to join an outdoor women’s soccer league but I always declined. I had too many strikes against me. For one, I had not taken part in any organized sports in my life.  But one summer I decided to take the plunge and join a team of strong and inspiring women who welcomed me with open arms.  These girls didn’t give a hoot that I had never played the game in my life. But that didn’t stop me from getting butterflies before every game. So why was I putting myself through this? Joining a team sport was always a goal but I doubted whether I had enough physical or mental skill to do it.  I was too "old" to learn the game right?  Wrong. That was fear holding me back. You are never too old to take chances.  I needed to crush my doubts and just “GO FOR IT”.  And it felt damn good.

3. Facing my ultimate fear

Now comes the very scary part, my career.  Yes, I was able to accept certain physical challenges but my career was a whole other story. I had a steady job and income in an industry that I loved. Over the years I developed the skills and the confidence to climb up the corporate ladder. I was in my comfort zone. But then something started happening, I started to feel demotivated, distracted and too “comfortable”. I started waking up anxious with that dreaded “pit of your stomach” feeling that you get when you just don’t enjoy it anymore. It was a tell-tale sign that this was not what I wanted to do anymore. I was no longer challenged. I always had this wacky crazy idea of owning my own business, being my own boss and becoming an entrepreneur.  I never fed that vision or took it seriously. Why change a good thing? So I should just learn to be happy and just stick to it right? However, I reached a certain point in my life that I could no longer deny this ambition any longer.  Deciding what that was or how to even begin was the hard part. It took quite a bit of thought, research and the overwhelming support of those closest to me and that’s how My Legwear Shop came into fruition. 

 4. Your Optimal Performance Zone

Time is one of the resources in life that you cannot buy back. If you have convinced yourself that you can’t achieve certain goals or aspirations or that some obstacles are preventing you from going forward, then you may eventually end up feeling stuck. You may get “too comfortable” which may eventually lead to unhappiness. We are each unique individuals with our own unique talents and skills.  What we can do is harness our strengths to learn new skills and challenge ourselves. We can push our boundaries to work on our weaknesses and fears and crush those goals. The comfort zone needs to be constantly nourished to make you feel at ease, in control and engaged.  If you find yourself questioning your direction or asking yourself “what if”, it’s time to do some soul searching. No matter how big or small, goals can excite and scare us at the same time.  The scary part is what we have to attack. But you don’t have to do it alone. And it does take time, effort and brainstorming.  Are you ready to challenge yourself and break out of your comfort zone?  

 




Antonella Caggianiello
Antonella Caggianiello

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