We all LOVE our comfort zones, don’t we?  What’s yours?  Mine is being at home with my feet up and a cuppa in hand, watching something absorbing on my laptop – from an instructional video through to a feel-good movie on ABC I-view!  But then again, it might also be pottering in the garden on a beautiful day, watering.  My comfort zone even includes writing this weekly blog on a monthly theme, which I find so creative!

So despite the bad wrap comfort zones often have – they are absolutely ESSENTIAL for us to retreat to and feel that ‘familiarity, safety, and security’ we need to refresh and regroup!  Our comfort zone is where we can SELF-CARE, which is so essential to our physical and mental wellbeing!

When I was reflecting on this topic, I realized that I was fortunate enough to have experienced my first comfort zone on mum or dad’s lap! This probably happens for most of us if we were blessed with caring parent figures. That’s what provides that sense of safety and security to fall back on to which we become so familiar….

Dr. Abigail Brenner, a San-Francisco-based Psychologist, defines our comfort zone as the routine of daily life that implies ‘familiarity, safety, and security’.  This zone inspires confidence, and limits anxiety because we can undertake routine tasks without even thinking about these!  We also expend less energy on a routine or familiar tasks.  We can even be creative in our comfort zone if we are talking or writing about familiar topics!

However, if we stay in this comfort zone for too long, what can happen?  We all know that feeling of boredom which can crop up, the feeling of complacency that feels oh so comfortable but is not challenging us in any way.  And if we are honest we begin to realise that this means, regrettably, ‘no growth’.

Whilst we may give intellectual agreement that this is not a good thing, how do we challenge ourselves to actually get up off that couch, metaphorically speaking, and take those first steps? Because we are all familiar with that term ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’?  Well, to begin with, understanding what might be going on is a big key!

Remember some of our previous blogs on ‘procrastination’, and last week’s on ‘self-sabotage’? Yes, it’s the old chestnut FEAR that’s mostly behind that challenge to move ahead, because we sometimes doubt ourselves, or we feel we don’t know enough yet (that was one of my ‘biggies’), or even that we don’t quite know where to start?  Or one of the biggest for me used to be ‘is it worth the time and effort to do this?  What real difference will this make’?

A lot of the literature talks about overcoming the FEAR zone first by moving into the LEARNING zone so that we can gain the skills to move ahead, and feel more confident in our ability to master something?  And yes – that is essential if we believe we don’t yet have the skills!

However, in giving this serious consideration for this blog, I realized for me that I need to see the ‘big picture’ first to propel me to get stuck into some new effort!  I need the motivation to see myself achieving something, or getting into that feeling of being so successful I can hold my head high! I need to find the purpose in order to live the dream.  I must see the final outcome before I can look at what steps are needed to get there?  And then I can work out if I need help to achieve this – to learn some new skill – or engage with a coach – or join the gym, etc.?

I finally decided this year that I was going to achieve more, after last year’s Covid-fuelled ‘disaster’…and that meant getting out of that comfort zone!  So I got the picture – a woman of integrity and grace, who was willing to challenge herself with her business to take on something she’d never done before – an online course (now being developed). Who needed to have robust health to keep going because of the years of life already under her belt, but knowing what she still wanted to achieve – so she joined the new local Gym – and then decided to increase her faith and understanding (in order to be of more help to others in their distress) by signing up for the part-time Dip. Theology course through Sturt University.  And that all meant moving out of that comfort zone big time!

As a result, I have never felt more stimulated and creative!  And surprise, surprise – getting out of that zone has actually helped to increase the amount I can now undertake, which means my comfort zone is ‘shrinking’ for want of a better word – but ALWAYS there for self-caring!

This picture may help to put all this into perspective – so where do YOU want to start?  What do you need to CHALLENGE yourself to do or achieve – and WHY? Give it a go, girlfriend!