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Growing Out of Your Comfort Zone
It has been said that "if you are not growing, you're dying." As human beings, we are on a constant journey called life. Rick Warren has been quite successful at stimulating thought and faith in his fine book, A Purpose Driven Life, suggesting that we are all here on Earth for a reason. I would like to propose that the concept of success is purpose-driven too. Earl Nightingale referred to success as the "continuing pursuit of a worthy ideal" and spoke of it often. I submit then, that success is not a destination, but a purposeful journey.
On this quest, many of us become stuck in a rut. We are afraid to step out of our comfort zone to experience new growth. Exactly what is our comfort zone? It's an intangible, a thought process actually, that frames our plane of existence. Typically it is our set of limits, our borderline, beyond which we will not normally step. It is a very powerful force, with many internal, deeply rooted psychological components. For the most part, fear of the unknown and fear of failure are the major inhibiting culprits. All of us have experienced the anxiety-induced sick feeling in the pit of our stomach, the sweaty palms or the sudden nervousness similar to having consumed too much caffeine that are often associated with stepping closer to the edge of our comfort zone. Considering these and other symptoms, many people don't bother to stretch themselves in any direction. They remain somewhat content to stay as they are, complacent, safe and sound.
Is staying within our comfort zones really a safe bet? I suggest that it is not. Our society, knowledge, technology, understanding and communications are evolving at a speed of light pace. Sooner or later, we will be left behind if we don't act. Depending upon your career, playing it safe is usually not an option. We too must continue to learn, to grow, or risk falling behind, eventually succumbing to commercial, creative, functional, and spiritual, emotional or possibly physical death. There is little real choice in the matter. We must continue to learn and grow, stretching out of the confines of our existing comfort zone or face the bleak consequences.
I have previously written of the Slight Edge Formula, where we introduce incremental, positive change into our lives over a period of time. This concept encourages exponential personal growth in a consistent, non-threatening manner. This is the means to grow and stretch out of our current comfort zone, to expand our possibilities without experiencing the energy-robbing anxiety previously described.
Knowing these facts then, will enable you to make conscious decisions to move forward, wake up and learn something new. Change is a subject most people don't want to talk about. Change makes a lot of us uncomfortable, but it should not be that way. Change is viewed as a threat by many and welcomed like a warm breeze by others. Many people see change as positive and part of the natural order. The way to reduce anxiety about change is to prepare for it. In my previous article, Learn Faster; Change is Coming, facts were presented to enable us to prosper in changing times. Change is a constant, only its pace varies. The better prepared we are to accept and embrace change, the greater our adaptation and profit will be.
Our comfort zone is dictated by change. The harder we fight change and resist its force, the more difficult it is to break through our current comfort zone and move forward. Start incrementally, embracing small changes and adapting to their effects, then move again. A tree grows a small amount at a time, adding layer and layer to its foundation for greater strength and stability in the future. Be like the tree, ever growing.
My family and I visited beautiful Niagara Falls recently. I was impressed by the sheer volume and force of the white water as it draped down the falls, crashing into mist on the rocks below. Change is like that water plummeting over the edge. Nothing will stand in its way. Like the river, it will move anything in its path and forever impact its surroundings with each gallon of flowing water. The same can be said of our comfort zone. Once it expands, we will grow and never be the same. The greater the circumference of our comfort zone, the more capable we become, the greater our accomplishments will be.
There is no growth unless we embrace change, letting go of fear and expand our comfort zone. Upon reflection, you will see that there is really no rational or practical alternative. Embrace the Slight Edge Formula and fearlessly grow out of your comfort zone.
Daniel Sitter is the author of the breakthrough e-book, Learning For Profit, the revolutionary how-to book providing simple, step-by-step instructions to teach people exactly how to learn new skills faster than ever before. It's currently available from download.com, the author's web site http://www.learningforprofit.com/ and a variety of online book merchants. Mr. Sitter is a contributing writer for several online and traditional publications. His expertise include sales, marketing, effective learning techniques, self-improvement and general business interests.
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