The thought of trying new things can be courageous or frightening. But….what would our lives be like if we did not try new things? For instance, if we did not try driving, we would have to walk everywhere or find other modes of transportation. We would be immobile or have limited mobility if we did not learn to walk as babies. We would get around by crawling or carefully holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along.
Holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along happens because it is safe. The baby is learning to experience upright movement without feeling the loss of control. They simply do not want to fall. They continue to hold on until they are able to walk from one end of the object to the other, walk around the corner of the object, or until they find the courage to take steps without holding on.
Learning to experience upright movement without feeling the loss of control is an idea of what it means to be in the comfort zone. The comfort zone is the place or situation where we feel safe and in control. What is your comfort zone? What is your safe place? Is it staying on a job that no longer fulfills your life’s purpose just to make a living? Is it staying in an incompatible relationship? Is it staying stuck in the same routine? Or…is it something else?
As you ponder about your safe place, consider this. It is important for us to draw on experiences gained from past experiences. These experiences make us feel secure, intelligent, capable, and sustained. But, isn’t it worth the risk to let go or leave behind the familiar and take the risk that will get you closer to the life that you want to live?
In contrast, new experiences can make us feel afraid and anxious. We lack confidence because we have no experience to draw from. Naturally, we sometimes reject the unfamiliar. Unfamiliar places and situations make us feel that we are in someone else’s power and control -especially when they know what we do not or their capabilities supersede ours. Yes. We have made it to the fear zone. We avoid handling tough situations and make excuses as to why tasks are incomplete.
Who knew that the idea of a comfort zone was multifaceted? Each stage can be seen as an ongoing cyclic process as we continue to grow, learn about ourselves, and try new experiences.
Looking at this image, it seems that in order to move past our levels of comfort, we have to be willing to take risks and be willing to address those things that put or keep us in the fear zone. Of course, taking risks can be frightening because we do not know what to expect, additional responsibilities may be required of us; and we may be forced to change our habits. We cannot stay in the fear zone. How do we keep moving? We must be willing to continue to learn and to grow. We will have to embrace the unfamiliar.
I remember solving a math problem in which I was not quite familiar. Initially, it appeared to be tough. I felt that I had no experience to draw from in order to solve this math problem. I began to wonder if I had learned this concept in school and forgot to grasp it. Before I made it to the thought that questioned my intelligence, I had to determine what I was willing to do. First, I was willing to be persistent enough to solve the problem. Second, I was willing to acknowledge that I was unsure if I had the skills to solve the problem because no matter how I tried, I was not drawing from any experiences. Third, I knew that I had to educate myself about the concept in order to solve the problem. Lastly, I was willing to continue to practice solving such problems so that this would be a new skill for me to draw from in the future of problem solving. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Can you relate that when problems become too challenging for you to deal with, it is important to take the time to acquire new skills and extend your comfort zone? If you agree, your mindset has moved beyond the fear zone and has entered into the learning zone.
As we continue to learn, we continue to grow. In order for learning to be meaningful, we must understand how we learn. How do you learn? Do you learn by seeing? Hearing? Or, doing? However you learn, it is important to utilize your learning style in a way to assist your growth. In the growth zone, we grow by finiding our purpose. We grow as we pursue and live dreams.. We set new goals to avoid being stuck on this level Finally, we conquer objectives.
Being stuck on one level is the opposite of the growth zone. The danger of making it to this growth zone level is not knowing that once you get here, the process must start over in order to prevent being stuck in a new comfort zone. If we go back to the example of the baby who is holding on to sturdy objects to cruise along because it is safe and learn that she finally let go and tried something new-walking, we will understand that the objective has been conquered. But, if the next objective is for her to climb, she has to start her process over because she has no prior experience to draw from. So the fear starts again because she doesn’t want to fall, the learning starts again, she starts climbing on objects when her parents are around, Her confidence begins to grow. As her confidence grows, so does she. New experiences are constantly offered, and the baby constantly tries until the next objective has been conquered.
If we stop trying, we stop growing. In the latest survey, “The Comfort Zone”, participants responded that 78% of us want to feel safe and in control. 22% were unsure of their comfort level. Let the cycle begin.
Indicators of the fear zone include lack of self confidence (12%); affected by opinions of others (51%); and finding excuses that prevent them from taking risks and moving forward (37%). I think that the participants of this survey made very important steps. Learning more about what frightens us and keeps us from moving forward is empowering. I think it also puts us in a better position to problem-solve, pursue resources, change our social environment to include forward-thinking people, and seek a life coach. The cycle continues.
Indicators of the learning zone include knowing how to deal with challenges; acquiring new skills (11); extending comfort zones by challenging confidence (11%) ; trying new things; or all of them (77%). At I See You Growing, we encourage people to embrace change. Each time we try new things, we learn more about ourselves. We learn how we approach challenging situations; we learn our level of frustration, our level of persistence, our willingness to be accountable, and our balance. Learning pushes us forward.
Indicators for the growth zone include a willingness to pursue and find purpose (22%); to live dreams; set new goals to accomplish; conquer objectives; or all of them (77%). As we can see from our data, most people want to learn and grow as much as they want to be safe in and in control. The fear and anxiety of trying new things can stop our growth. We are determined enough to not let them. We will continue to pursue our dreams. We are willing to move forward to comfort, regroup; and then move beyond our comforts.
We expect growth.