Never wish life were easier,
wish you were better
~ Jim Rohn
I love this quote. It strikes a chord for me that rings true time and time again. It inspires me to keep pushing myself to be better, to try harder, to achieve more. It makes me focus on the things I can control (myself) instead of the things I cannot control (external influences in life) and it motivates me to step outside of my comfort zone and push through my fears to learn and grow.
The 4 zones of success
The first two zones are aptly named the comfort and fear zones.
In the comfort zone, you experience feelings of familiarity, calmness, routine and control. Your brain releases ‘happy chemicals’ including dopamine and serotonin. You operate in auto-pilot, you use minimal energy and experience minimal distress. Many people spend their whole lives in the comfort zone. They exist in this space and feel happy here. And that is fine… for most people.
Here’s the catch – nothing ever grows here.
If you want to achieve great things in life you must continually step outside of your comfort zone. You must aim higher, push further, question more and frequently expand your boundaries to reveal new horizons.
As you make these explorations, prepare yourself for zone 2.
In the fear zone, you experience feelings of anxiety, stress and dread. Your brain blocks the ‘happy chemicals’ and instead produces adrenaline and glutamate (to name but a few). It is your brains way of holding you back, holding you hostage and preventing you from trying. Depending on how far outside your comfort zone you are, your brain will produce more of these chemicals inducing a state of fight, flight or freeze. No wonder it is an uncomfortable place to be!
Here’s the upside – the fear zone is a place of short-term pain for long-term gain. If you can push through this zone you are on your way to greatness!
What is beyond the fear zone?
Beyond the fear zone are the learning and growth zones.
This is where all progress takes place.
Getting to these zones takes time and practice. Think of your comfort zone as a muscle – the more you exercise it, the bigger it grows.
You must learn how to overcome your fears and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. The more you practice an activity or task that you fear, the more familiar it will feel. It will become less fear-inducing and may eventually become something you feel comfortable doing. This is a sure sign that your comfort zone is expanding.
In the learning zone, you are better equipped to deal with problems than you were when you lived solely in your comfort zone. You have gained experience in overcoming fear, excuses and confidence issues. You are able to acquire new skills, accept new challenges and prepare yourself for growth.
The secret to “being better” (as Jim Rohn puts it) is to live as much as possible in the growth zone. To identify your purpose and channel your energy into achieving it. To actively set and accomplish new goals and objectives. To never stop challenging yourself and striving for more.
Allow yourself to slip back into the comfort zone when you feel you need too. Recognise it for what it is and don’t stay there too long – the more comfort becomes your priority, the more contracted you become with fear and the harder you have to work to fight it.
Mindfully spend the majority of your time pushing your boundaries and actively seek help from those with experience to support and encourage you to achieve this. Benefit from the knowledge they can share with you and the learnings they have accrued.
If you can live your life in the growth zone, you will recognise that life does not need to be easier, because you have become better.Step out of your comfort zone