Your Comfort Zone: Why You Should Venture Out Of It

I have a confession. Even though I teach and write about self-improvement, I am very much a creature of habit. In fact, my friends often tease me about this. For example, they call me a "clock eater." What that means is that I eat by the clock. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner according to what the clock says, not necessarily when I'm hungry. I get anxious when someone wants to eat "lunch" at 2:00 or 3:00. It's too late for lunch, but too early for dinner. And I'll be too hungry if I wait to eat lunch that late. But I'll be too full for dinner too if I eat at that time.

I think you get the point. Some people might even call me a little OCD. Ha. Maybe, maybe not. But like I said, I am definitely a creature of habit.

Another habitual thing I do is order the same exact thing when I go to certain restaurants. It's always a different entrée at each restaurant, but it's always the same dish at the same restaurant, if that makes sense. Like if I go to my favorite Indian restaurant, I always order Chicken Jalfrezi. If I go to Panera, I always get the soup and salad combo.

This might sound really boring. But the reason I do this is because I am afraid that if I order something different, then I won't like it and I would have wasted my money. And I would also be upset at myself because I would be thinking that I could have had my favorite dish instead. So I just stick with what I like.

This personality characteristic of mine doesn't necessarily cause me problems in my life. In fact, they are mainly quite humorous for me and my friends/family. However, even though it's not a big deal if I eat by the clock or order the same food all the time, this tendency can hold me back in other areas of my life, such as business.

I was talking to someone the other day who is an entrepreneur. It's a new business, and the owner is still trying to find her way. One of her biggest obstacles for her is technology. She's good at what she does, but she is kind of afraid of technology, so she doesn't spend money on it for fear that she will either waste her money or not be able to learn how to use it.

She was struggling with this because she realizes that adopting some new technological things such as financial software can ultimately make her business run smoother, but she's still reluctant.

As I listened to her, I could identify. As a creature of habit myself (and one who likes comfort zones too), I can see her struggle. And that got me reflecting on my habits in business.

I, too, am technologically challenged. And perhaps even a bit phobic about it. I even joke about it by saying, "If something technological can go wrong, it will definitely go wrong with me. I think I put out some sort of vibe that messes with computers and other gadgets." I joke, but I'm half serious.

So I had to sit down with myself and try to understand where I was stuck in business/technological area of my life. As you might guess, because of my fear of technology, I accidentally (or not so accidentally) avoid learning some very vital things I should know such as internet marketing techniques or how link re-directs can affect my website.

I even think about completely re-designing the look of my website, but then I worry about how the information I already have there might be affected, how I should re-organize it, or if maybe I should even get rid of some of it. Those kinds of things make me want to stay inside my comfort zone where I don't have to feel anxious about it. Because sometimes it's just easier to stay where you are, right?

But that doesn't lead to any growth. I don't care if it's your eating and exercise habits or your business practices, life is about change and growth. As the saying goes, "the only thing constant is change." So even if you think that staying the same is easier, change will eventually happen. You will either go willingly, or it will be forced upon you.

It's difficult to change. And although I am all about growth, I still have my areas like this where I can improve upon. So I struggle with it, but I'm also very aware. That's what I think we all need to begin with - self-awareness. If we know what our comfort zones are, why we feel the need to stay there, and how we can take steps to venture outside, I think that we can all point ourselves down the path toward positive change.