When you think about doing something that is out of your comfort zone, like changing jobs, moving house, or ending a relationship, you probably feel - you guessed it - a little uncomfortable. Even just thinking about leaving your comfort zone can make anyone feel somewhat stressed out. And while it might be tempting to avoid these feelings, the right amount of stress can actually be good for you.
In theory, your comfort zone sounds like a nice place to be. A place where everything is easy and where you feel comfortable. But ironically that’s not always the case, as it keeps you doing what you always do and how you always do it, and with that, it prevents innovation and creativity More than anything, your comfort zone is a place you stay in to keep yourself safe from any perceived danger. In your brain, anything outside of your comfort zone can cause stress and discomfort. So to keep you safe, your brain wants you to stay right where you are, in your comfort zone.
Going out of your comfort zone might not be easy, though it is worth it because of a thing called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is what happens in your brain when you experience new things. Your brain creates new connections between neurons. It rewires and creates new neural pathways. You learn new things and you adapt. Staying in your comfort zone doesn’t mean that you create no new neural pathways. But by pushing yourself and going outside your comfort zone you stimulate the creation of new and different neural pathways and you become better at adapting yourself to new situations. It's important to not go too far out of your comfort zone, which causes negative stress and prevents new neuron connections.
Zone of Genius
So where can going outside of your comfort zone take you? The American psychologist Gay Hendricks defines four different zones in his book ‘The Big Leap’. The first zone is the ‘zone of incompetence’. In this zone, you are doing something that you don’t understand or you’re not good at. The next zone is the ‘zone of competence’. This is where you are doing something that you’re good at, but you’re not achieving anything out of the ordinary.
The third zone is the ‘zone of excellence’, where you have spent a lot of time practicing and cultivating a skill and you’ve become really good at it, but it’s not necessarily satisfying or fulfilling. The last zone is the ‘zone of genius’. This is where you don’t just do what you’re good at, but you go one step further. The ‘zone of genius’ is where your talent and your interest meet with the ability to make money and providing something the world needs. It’s a place where you get in touch with your why and where you’re able to work in a way that is unique to you. This is where you will feel most satisfied, stretched and you feel growing meaningful skills.
The ‘zone of competence’ and the ‘zone of excellence’ are both located in your comfort zone. To get to the ‘zone of genius’, you really need to stretch yourself. This stretch means moving out of your comfort zone and this comes with stress. But trust me when I tell you it is worth it. When you take small steps, your stress won’t overwhelm you and you’ll be able to grow and shine.
Would you like to go outside of your comfort zone? Stay tuned for my next blog, or book in a free 45 minute coaching call with me so I can guide you along the way.