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.


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


6 Steps Towards Getting Motivated

Motivation is something that comes from inside you, not from someone else.  The more motivated you are, the more you will achieve and the more success you will experience.  You will advance further in your career, make more money, be more satisfied with your relationships and generally be happier in life by following these 6 tips towards self-motivation.I can do it

1) Put it in Perspective

Define larger, long term goals for your career and your life overall.  Understand where you are headed, and what you need to do to get there.  Once you can link the day to day “have to” list with your long term goals, you suddenly “want to” accomplish the things on your list.  Without that larger perspective, it is hard to be inspired by the daily activities that you need to do.   For example, a person who is interested in becoming a real estate investor might start by doing research on properties for someone else who is already successful in the field.  While this task can become repetitive and mundane if looked at by itself, it becomes an important stepping stone in context of the larger career goal.  When you start looking at your “to do” list and dreading some of the items on there, consider how these tasks fit into your aspirations and they might not seem so dreadful after all.

2) Celebrate Small Successes

Statistics show that almost 80% of the thoughts in your head each day are negative.  We are so good at criticizing ourselves and pointing out mistakes.  This is entirely backwards!  Take the time to reward yourself for small accomplishments along the way and celebrate them.  Did you get that presentation completed?  Celebrate!  Did you learn a new skill?  Celebrate it!  The best way to build up your confidence and your self-esteem is to document your development and your accomplishments, so that you have a running success journal.  If you do this one thing consistently, you will amaze yourself at how much you accomplish by the end of the year that you would not normally have recognized.   As a side benefit to this, you will be able to use your success journal in your performance discussions with your boss, or as a confidence booster when you stretch yourself to take on something new.

3) Learn from Mistakes

One of the concepts taught in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is that there is no failure, only feedback.  Most of us start out to do something with a presupposed outcome, and when the outcome is different we consider this to be a failure.  Successful people do not consider this failure, but an opportunity to learn.  Thomas Edison, when asked about the thousands of failed experiments he went through to invent the carbon filament, said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”   When you approach a mistake as an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know before,  you are using a positive framework.  I once made a mistake in a piece of software that shut down thousands of offices across the US on a Saturday night (which were closed, luckily, and we were able to recover in minutes) and fully expected to be chewed out by my boss come Monday morning.  Instead she was very calm about it, and said simply, “those who don’t make mistakes are those that aren’t doing anything.”  What an amazing outlook!  I suggest you adopt this for yourself, and give yourself credit for trying and stretching yourself to do something new.  If the outcome isn’t what you’d wanted, then take another look at the problem and see if you can see it from a different perspective with your newfound knowledge.

4) Garbage In, Garbage Out

This is a common expression in the Information Technology industry, and it applies to your minds as well.  Be selective about the messages you let into your brain, and seek out only those that are positive.  Here are some tips on how to do this:

– Subscribe to daily motivational messages that will life your spirits (see our Resources section for some recommendations)

– Shut off the TV.  Use this time instead for reading or listening to audio programs that will teach you something, or at least entertain you with positive messages.

– Surround yourself with happy people.   Find others that have common goals with you, look for local groups or other successful people that will inspire you.  You know that person that is always complaining, telling you how horrible her job is or how rotten her kids are?  She’s sucking the energy out of you.  Get her out of your life.  There’s a book called Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome that does an excellent job explaining how these energy vampires are affecting your health.

5) The Power of 5

The Power of 5 is a concept I learned from Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.   The concept is simple:  every day take 5 actions that take you closer to your goal.  This is all about taking action, but doing it in such a way that is not overwhelming.  So many projects never get off the ground because they seem too large and intimidating.   Find 5 things you can do that are moving you forward, do this every day, and you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish.   I’ve often found that just starting things going by doing a simple task leads me to bigger and stronger momentum and before I know it I am done.

I would recommend you take the time the night before to write down your 5 things.  This accomplishes 2 things:  it gives your subconscious all night to work on the problem, and it also allows you to hit the day running when you wake up in the morning.   Try it for a week and see how it feels.

6) Manage Your Life

Take control of your schedule and give yourself time to take breaks, exercise, spend time with family, engage in sports or spiritual activities – whatever helps you control stress and enjoy life.   Motivation is easily lost if you get out of balance and don’t take the time for other aspects of your life that are important to you.   In today’s corporate environment where teams have been “downsized” drastically, it is easy to get caught up in trying to get it all done.  Likewise, business owners make the mistake of spending too much time working in their business, not ON their business, often resulting in them having just another job where they are trading hours for dollars.  Take stock of how much time you spend on different activities and compare that to what you think is really important.  The more this is out of whack, the more stressed, unhappy and unmotivated you will be.

Motivation is the power that creates action.  If you are not as successful as you would like, then take a look at your own level of motivation.  If you are like most of us, you have some days where you are inspired to take action, and others where you don’t want to get off the couch.  Your challenge is to find ways of getting motivated and staying motivated, so that you can consistently take the actions that will lead you towards the success you crave.  The 6 steps of self-motivation listed here will help you on that journey.