When the Comfort Zone Quits Being Comfortable


comfort zone

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you’re sitting on your comfortable couch watching the game.  What reason would you have to get up?  Usually it’s either because you want to get something to snack on (pleasure) or you need to go to the bathroom (pain).   Most of us live inside our comfort zones, and only get motivated to change for one of two reasons: to obtain pleasure or avoid pain.  Pain is the stronger of the two motivators.  We will often forego pleasure out of a sense of duty, or laziness, or any of a dozen different reasons.  We can’t ignore pain for long.   You will only change when the level of pain increases to the point where the price of staying in your comfort zone outweighs your fear.

getting motivated

So, you have two choices: 

1)       Wait for the pain to increase to the point where you have to do something, or

2)      Work on reducing or eliminating your fears.

The challenge is that your comfort zone slowly becomes uncomfortable in almost imperceptible ways until it reaches the point where it impacts your health.   The stress levels build slowly until it starts to appear in the form of back and neck pain, chronic fatigue, respiratory issues and weight gain.  You come home from work stressed out and snap at your family, impacting your relationships. You quit enjoying your hobbies, you spend too much time surrounded by the noise of TV, radio, or the internet, or maybe you indulge in “retail therapy”.  This continues to spiral upward; the stronger the pain the more the universe is telling you to pay attention.  You are imploding inward when you should be taking focused, deliberate action to expand outwards.

There was a study done of skiing disasters, and they found that the majority of the disasters occurred in locations where the skiers were familiar with their surroundings and had gone skiing that same terrain many times before without any incident.  They failed to recognize that the conditions had changed and that familiar ski trail was no longer safe.  The familiar and comfortable had turned unfamiliar and dangerous.

boiling frog get motivated

This is like the story told about boiling a frog:  if you put a frog in water and turn up the temperature slowly, the frog will not recognize the danger and will die.  If you put that same frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately.   We know that the economic climate is such that organizations will let people go as soon as it makes good financial sense for them to do so, so the question you need to consider is whether you’ve taken the temperature of your current employment situation lately?  Less than half of Americans feel secure in their jobs, so that “safe” and “stable” paycheck may disappear overnight.

Everything you have in your life right now is a result of you operating in your comfort zone.  Are you happy with your financial situation? Your career?  Your relationships? All of these things are defined by the choices you have made in your life up until this point.  If you are looking for more money, more happiness or better relationships, you need to make some different choices and expand beyond your current comfort zone.   Remember the definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  If you want different results, you need to expand yourself, learn a new skill, take a new responsibility, join a group of like-minded individuals, or whatever it takes to stretch out of your comfort zone.

The major turning point for me was to expand my current circle of friends and acquaintances and meet new people.  With the internet and sites like meetup.com, it is easy to find business networking groups in your area.  Seek out business seminars related to your career goals and make sure you talk to people.  Don’t just show up to listen and leave.  The real value is in the people you meet and the relationships you form.  Some of the most exciting opportunities in my business right now are a result of a series of circumstances and meetings that I could never have planned for.

get motivated get moving

Make a decision to get moving.  Set a goal and take the first step.  It doesn’t matter if the goal you set is not your final destination, it only matters that you start moving.  You can always change course, or even a complete detour, once you begin the journey.  You can’t make anything happen when the car is still parked in the driveway.


Keep Moving Forward or Die

Maybe not die literally, but slowly and insidiously….

Like a shark that needs to move forward to breathe, successful careers need to keep moving or we suffocate.  That’s the premise of Simon Sinek’s new post, Obligate Ram Ventilation.

You hear about career burnout, but this is more like career “rustout”.

Burnout occurs when you are under consistent pressures, work too many hours, and feel like your job is out of your control.  This is very common in today’s corporate environment.  Since layoffs are a common practice, we see many in management positions without the skills and experience needed to effectively manage, and those left to do the work are shouldering the burden from their jobs as well as those who have left the company.

Rustout is a different kind of career death, one that is not so widely discussed.  Just as your bicycle will start to rust if left outside and untended for too long, career rustout happens when you leave your career untended.   When you perform the same tasks, day after day, without any thought on how to improve yourself or your contributions towards some future goal, you rust away.  Your job no longer satisfies you, you lose motivation and spend your days dragging through the hours until you can leave.

Scrape the rust off of your career by focusing on these 2 things:

1) Learn something new.  Read newsletters pertaining to your industry, take a class or read a book.  Find a way to increase your knowledge and your skillset.

2) Set a career goal.  You’ve been in one place doing the same thing for too long and you’ve forgotten how to challenge yourself.  Find something that you can strive towards that excites you.  There are usually plenty of opportunities in your current job – you just need to seek them out.


Control the Power of Words and Skyrocket Your Self-Esteem

The power of words, especially those words we say to ourselves without even consciously realizing it, are the single most important factor in influencing your belief in yourself and your self-esteem.  Did you know that our brains are continuously thinking at a rate of 1500 thoughts per minute, and it is estimated that fully 80% of those thoughts are negative?

The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, while the Positive Word Dictionary contains entries for 1,800 words.   It is any wonder that we are bombarded with negative messages when our language itself is only 1% positive?

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a pioneer Japanese researcher, documented an astonishing study that thoughts and feelings affect physical reality by photographing water molecules after they had been exposed to music as well as written and spoken words.   The water molecules exposed to positive words, such as those expressing gratitude, were beautifully formed, while those exposed to negative words were badly misshapen.  He has proven that human vibrational energy, thoughts, words, ideas and music affect the molecular structure of water, the very same water that comprises over seventy percent of a mature human body.

power of words

Heavy metal music

power of words

Beethoven's Pastorale








power of words

You make me sick

power of words

Thank you







Your health, your self-confidence and your success are all impacted by controlling the message playing in your head.

Tell yourself you are a failure.  You will notice your shoulders slump, your eyes dart away, and your voice is a mumble.  Bosses have a way of pointing out all your shortcomings and mistakes, and telling you about the weaknesses you need to work on.  One statistic says that the average employee hears 8 negative messages for each positive one.  Is this a way to inspire? Of course not!  That is why so many people working for someone else end up becoming more and more dissatisfied with their jobs and their lives, but don’t do anything about it.  The negativity drains their energy and eventually will impact their health as well.

Now tell yourself, “I can do it!”  Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, look directly at yourself in the mirror and speak loudly and clearly.  Do you feel the difference?  Now do this over and over until you believe it.  This is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself.  If you have employees working for you, find ways to emphasize their strengths, not their weaknesses.  If any corrections need to be made, do it in a positive manner.  Psychology 101 says that all negative messages should be “sandwiched” between two positive ones.  This 2:1 positive ratio is a far cry from the 1:8 that most managers use.  It is common wisdom that “what you focus on expands”, so doesn’t it make more sense to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses?

You have to consciously retrain your brain to think positively.  Learn to recognize when the message is negative, and reframe it immediately in a positive manner.

I once had a conversation with a woman who had left her job to become a life coach, and she stated that she knew plenty of people who needed her help but were not willing to hire her.  Her opinion was that these prospects were just not willing to spend money on improving their lives.  Now, I tend to be an empathetic listener, so when she said that, I didn’t disagree with her.  Later on, I found myself saying this very same thing out loud to my husband.  What happened here?  I had no basis for this belief other than hearing it from someone else, yet it seemed to become part of my belief system.  I had let her experiences shape my own.  The power of words is such that you have to counteract every negative statement with a positive one.  In this particular instance, I transformed the statement from this:

“Prospects are not willing to spend money on improving their lives.”

To this:

“Prospects are not willing to spend money on improving their lives until they are clear on the benefits and transformation a coach can bring into their lives.”

You can see how the first statement is a limiting belief, while the revised version is more inspirational.  It lays the groundwork for positive actions that you can take if you want to achieve the result of getting people to invest in improving their lives.

Words are so powerful they can change lives.  Control your words, both those in your head and those said out loud and you will notice a major improvement in your self-esteem and your confidence levels.

Here’s my challenge for you:  Pick one person in your life that is very important to you – your spouse, your child, your best friend, whoever – and for the next week carefully control every word you say to him or her so that the messages are only positive.  Compliment them, lift them up with positive encouragement, show your gratitude by saying thank you, and come back here in a week’s time to tell us how this work