Is your comfort zone working for you?

It’s a new year. The time when everyone reflects on the past year and thinks about the future. Most people decide on something they want to change in the coming year. Most people have a goal of some kind. Do you?

When I think about the goals and challenges we set ourselves, I’m reminded of that old invisible barrier, the comfort zone. Invisible you ask? My comfort zone is very real! How can it be invisible? I’ll tell you!

Everyone’s idea of a comfort zone is very different isn’t it? There is no universal comfort zone, no one place everyone can go to to be happy and at peace. Why is that? Well, a comfort zone is not a physical place, is it? We may attach the feeling to something physical, a place, an action, but really it’s the thoughts and feelings behind it that make it that comfort zone. But while comfort is in the name, it may be comfortable, but is it always the best place to be?

As you think about things you may like to have achieved by the end of 2018, think about your comfort zone, what ingredients make it so comfortable for you? My understanding of a comfort zone is that we know where we are with it. It’s familiar. It’s unlikely to contain any big surprises, because surprises aren’t always comfortable. We know where we are in our comfort zone. The problem is, knowing where we are and exactly what’s going on is great, until we want something new to happen. Does your comfort zone allow for something new or unexpected? Is the familiar actually positive?

You may wonder how something that feels familiar and comfortable can ever be negative. Of course it can. I have worked with many people stuck in negative patterns of negative thoughts, depression, wallowing in the past, putting themselves down, a relationship that they know is wrong but can’t remove themselves from etc. All of these things are hugely negative, but to the individual, they’re familiar, they are the comfort zone, simply because that’s what they are used to. Do you see how in these cases, the comfort zone is definitely not the right place to be staying? If an abuse victim has been abused for so long that that’s all they know, is that a positive comfort zone? Have a think about your comfort zone now. Is it a positive place? Is it good for you? If not, time to change the habits of a life time.

That’s the good thing about our comfort zone being an invisible, virtual place inside our minds. That means we can change it surprisingly easily. Building a physical place of safety is much harder to do, but imagine now if you could feel safe in your mind in any situation. Imagine if you could make any place or state you wanted your comfort zone. If you accept, and understand that you can decide your own feelings with your thoughts, you’ll find it so easy to make anywhere your comfort zone. You could feel confident and in control in any situation, because you are in control. You’re always in control. It’s so simple.

If you push yourself to do something new, maybe something you need to do to progress in whatever you want to achieve, if you’re pushing yourself while telling yourself things like, “This is way out of my comfort zone!” Or, “This is all a bit new, I’m a bit worried about this.” Or, “New situations or places make me so anxious!” Do you see how you’re making your own experience harder just by telling yourself these things? If a friend was trying to push themselves to do something new or difficult, would you say these things to them? I always come back to that one. Why can we say positive uplifting things to other people but not ourselves?

So, this new year, push yourself to get what you want out of life. Most things worth having seem to have to be worked for. Most achievements don’t happen without a bit of work. Most changes involve stepping out of that comfort zone. So be brave, take that step, but tell yourself it’s easy. Change your comfort zone as you go, just keep taking it with you. Your comfort zone is simply what you tell yourself it is. So if you finally want to kick that negative habit, break a pattern that you’ve failed to break in the past because it’s safe and familiar, whatever you want to do this year, wherever you want 2018 to take you, allow it to happen. Don’t hold yourself back by telling yourself you’re not comfortable, or it’s difficult etc. You’ll be surprised how easy things can be when you tell yourself they’re easy.

If you only make one resolution this year, make it this one, to tell yourself you can achieve what you want to achieve, because you can do anything you want to do, and changing your comfort zone is easy. Changing how you think about challenges is easy! Don’t even think of them as challenges, just think of them as achievable targets, and watch yourself achieve them as you go! Happy new year to you! Don’t make this your year, make every year your year… Because you can, simple!