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Is Your “Comfort Zone” Holding You Back?

Posted on July 16, 2007

By David Wood

Let’s face it. We’re all creatures of habit – especially in the areas of career and personal growth. No matter the profession, we all get used to certain procedures, routines, expectations, and, for the most part, quietly go along with the status quo even if boredom starts to wrap its tentacles around our lives. Why rock the boat? Not wanting to risk our current lot in life, we get a little scared to take a new step in an unknown direction. Like lemmings, we go with the flow as days turn into years and suddenly one day we find ourselves on the short side of important goals we’d hoped to one day accomplish.

It’s not too late. Take the plunge with one little step in ANY new direction. Just get the ball rolling. Challenge yourself immediately with new input from books, magazines, and speakers. Try new foods. Exercise at a new time (or start exercising!). Take the scenic route to work or better yet try public transportation if that’s not your norm. Listen to the radio in the evening rather than watching television. While attending a conference, take a break small break and go to a museum for an hour. Learn Spanish in your spare time. The key is to try something…anything… new and different. Start blowing up your comfort zone. Get rid of it! Chances are it isn’t serving you as well as think (and it’ll take you back with open arms if you come crawling home).

Successful people seem to follow this procedure innately. Back in 2006, I heard the wildly successful movie producer Brain Grazer on NPR discussing his belief in disrupting his personal comfort zone every day and on purpose. I loved his idea of trying anything just as long as it’s out of his normal routine. As Ron Howard’s longtime partner in Imagine Entertainment and with box office hits like A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 to their credit, Mr. Grazer can certainly afford to coast from day-to-day, yet he doesn’t. He took up surfing – complete with the angry looks and snickers of younger wave riders – ¬ at 45 years old. He continually seeks out audiences with experts in subjects well out of his comfort zone like forensics and anthropology and even nuclear weapons. He talked of his meeting with Edward Teller – the father of hydrogen bomb – who had never heard of him and ridiculed him as just a silly show biz type during their terse meeting. Was Grazer defeated? Hardly. He’d taken a chance and that’s what keeps him going. I love his quote: “Disrupting my comfort zone, bombarding myself with challenging people and situations, this is the best way I know to keep growing. And, if you’re not growing you’re dying.”

Put yourself in a position to grow. Once out of your old comfort zone you’ll realize the only thing that was holding you back was yourself.  Dreams matter.


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Mary de la Fe

What's wrong with recognizing what you are good at and sticking with it? Why do we have to do new things to be considered successful?

Richard Weinstein

I bet the coopers, blacksmiths and family farmers would all agree with you Mary.

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