The “Comfort Zone” & Developing Your True Potential

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best:  “Do one thing everyday that scares you.”  Why? Because it’s the only way we can discover and develop our true potential. Doing something new, different, or challenging can be frightful, especially when it’s acutely uncomfortable. Rather than feel uncomfortable, we do what’s familiar, even when it doesn’t work for us at all.

We want things to be different, yet we’re afraid of change. We’re so terrified of the unknown that doing what’s familiar is comforting, even when the results are unbearable. If we want change, we have to walk through fear. If we stay in the safety of the comfort zone, life will stay the same. Doing the same thing over and over always produces the same results. Life changes only when we change ourselves.

You don’t have to become fearless overnight. You can start small and take baby steps. Here are twelve ways to step out of the comfort zone and overcome fear:

Be curious. Curiosity and fear are incompatible.

Project something wonderful. Rather than obsess about negative outcomes, focus on and believe in the best possible result. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll enjoy your thoughts.

Accept fear. Feel the fear, but do it anyway. Most of what we fear is not as scary as we think.

Imagine the worst possible outcome. What do you have to lose? If you can accept a worst-case scenario, it will help you to take action.

Give yourself kudos. When you feel uncomfortable, remind yourself that you’re also moving forward. Feeling uncomfortable is good; it tells you that you’re growing.

Practice. Do one new or scary thing every day no matter how small. Change your morning routine. Take a different route on the way to work. Walk instead of drive. Habits are addictive; even small changes are uncomfortable, but they’re good practice for the bigger things.

Do what you think you cannot. It usually turns out that we can do many things we initially believed were beyond us. Discovering our untapped inner resources helps us to take on more challenging tasks.

Be open. If doing something new or different doesn’t produce the desired result, it can still expose us to new opportunities and possibilities.

Create a margin of safety. If you’re afraid to ski, take lessons first. If you’ve got a promising but frightening first date, splurge on a great outfit.

Exercise regularly. Working out releases endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins make us feel better and almost always relieve discomfort.

Use fear to your advantage. When fear and discomfort become unmanageable, focus on the pain of staying the same. Make your fear of not changing stronger than your fear of the unknown.

Be willing to make mistakes. Mistakes teach us what doesn’t work and help us to learn what could. Thomas Edison is said to have created more than 1,000 unworkable light bulbs before he ultimately developed a winner.

Change isn’t easy. There’s no way around it. But successful people can provide us with a few helpful tips:

  • Have faith in something bigger than yourself to help you succeed.
  • Never give up on a dream.
  • Accept from the start that change will be difficult.

It’s been said that all limits and most obstacles come from within. Fear, doubt, discouragement, and lack of faith are very powerful adversaries. But if we want to tap into our true potential, we must challenge these demons on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to live outside the comfort zone.

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