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.



  1. I like your writing style really loving this internet site. “Men do less than they ought, unless they do all that they can.” by Thomas Carlyle.

  2. I think this is such a good topic to bring up, and such an important thing to do. I edeicdd to push myself beyond my comfort zone by taking part in NaNoWriMo. It’s only a little thing, but for me it’s a big push to get over my self doubts and actually do it, and it’s very liberating. If you want to do this, I think it’s vital to have some support, whether it’s from family and friends or from other people doing the same challenge. It really helps if there is a finite limit at which point you can say you are successful, like a deadline or just being able to do something without thinking about it anymore.


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