Earlier this year I spent a few of my workweeks curled up on my couch with a series of beach read level books in hand. I blocked out all but the most pressing of my work tasks, like client appointments and email checks throughout the day, and I dove headlong into a series of entertaining stories of intrigue. I can read for hours on end, and I don’t do well with suspense, so I’d plough through one book after the other to find out what happened next.
Sounds nice and relaxing, right?
Well, let me give a little context to this story. I wasn’t taking a planned vacation. My business wasn’t in a place where it could run without me. I was pedal to the medal procrastinating, and I knew it.
On the one hand, I recognize that I’m human. Getting stuck in a ‘fun’ activity like Facebook, tv binges, video games, or YouTube happens to all of us now and again. After a while my reading energy lost its steam, and I (thankfully) got back to work.
But on the other hand, it’s clear to me that I was stuck in a comfort zone. It was way easier to spend my days reading than it would have been to write and submit an article for publication. Or to do any of the other challenging tasks that would grow my business.
We stagnate when we hang out in a comfort zone for too long. And we grow when we push against the edges of what’s comfortable.
Here are five steps to find and challenge any comfort zone that you’ve gotten a bit too cozy with.
1) Pick an area of your life that you’d like to be different.
I want more free time.
2) Notice what comfortable behavior you’re hanging on to that is generating your current less than ideal result.
Doing everything myself.
3) Name the discomfort that you’re trying to avoid.
The effort of delegating. The pain of a mistake.
4) Notice that to get the result you want you’ll need to be willing to experience the accompanying discomfort.
I’m willing to experience the effort of delegating and the pain of a mistake in order to have more free time.
5) Take the next step you see in front of you. Keep moving forward until you’re through the discomfort and have adopted the new behavior.
Pick a task to delegate.
I struggled to get out of my reading loop when I was in it, even though I knew I was avoiding my work. It would have been helpful to step back and look at what in particular was making me feel like hiding. Once I’d identified that, I could have acted more courageously and moved into the discomfort, rather than away from it. None of us can live in discomfort all the time, but seeking it out on a regular basis is what makes life interesting and helps us to hit our next level.
What’s your go-to comfort zone activity? What discomfort are you trying to avoid? Are you willing to endure that discomfort to get what you really want?