I have two major gripes with the “Get out of your comfort zone!” cliché.
My first problem:
What’s wrong with being in your comfort zone?
Michael Jordan was better off in his comfort zone winning basketball titles than leaving it to whiff away at a minor league baseball, right?
So I’d argue you’re better off trying to improve your comfort zone—strengthening what you’ve got inside it and expanding its capabilities.
My second problem with “get out of your comfort zone”?
It’s as uselessly vague as the conventional drawing of a comfort zone:
So I think if you want to strengthen and stretch your comfort zone, you’ve got to add some definition to that circle.
Redefine Your Comfort Zone
Consider redrawing your comfort zone to look like this:
- 🦵 Your leg muscles are your relationships. Without them, you go nowhere. And super strong ones can help you jump and sprint. But they take hard work and time, so we tend to spend less effort on them than we should. Or we do frilly, cosmetic “toning” exercises rather than heavy lifting.
- 💪 Your arm muscles are your career and finances. Men, especially, tend to sweat over bulging biceps. But why? Just for show. Practically, most of us need to do enough so that this part of our comfort zones doesn’t become so feeble it holds back our overall performance.
- 🎽 Your core muscles make up your “self”—your sense of identity, values, and purpose. Everyone wants a six-pack, but dinky introspective exercises like crunches and planks won’t cut it. Life athletes with the most impressive cores do compound exercises that work the whole body of their comfort zone. This develops a strong core as a bi-product.
- 🍽 Your diet is what you learn. Even the healthiest information diet won’t do you any good if you don’t move. Conversely, no amount of hard work will overcome consumption of pure junk.
- 🏃♀️ Your cardio is your commitment. The harder and longer you work at something, the easier it’ll make things and the more energy it’ll give you.
- 🧘♂️ Your flexibility is your openness to trying new things. It doesn’t always feel practical or like “hard work,” but you’ll get stiff, brittle, and sore if you ignore it.
- 🦴 Your backbone is your health. When you’re young, it’s perfectly fine, but the longer you mistreat it and ignore it, the sooner it will cause you pain, limit you, and make you completely miserable.
How’s Your Shape?
Take another look at this comfort zone diagram and ask yourself:
Which areas of your comfort zone are in the worst shape?
Reframing it this way may give you a better idea of what you can do to strengthen and expand yourself, rather than simply “get out of your comfort zone.”
When it comes to training your comfort zone, I bet you, like me, tend to behave too much like an exercise scientist and not enough like an athlete:
Lots of theory, not nearly enough practice.
I suspect you’ve accumulated plenty enough knowledge already. So quit overthinking and get to work.
- ↩️ Make your next move unpredictable? “I try to look at it like, Where would people predict if they were me they would go?, then not go there.” – Kenneth Stanley in this excellent podcast interview.
- ⚠️ What’s your #1 FYI? Daria responded to last issue‘s idea of personal user manuals with this question she often asks others: “If someone could know one thing about you (work style, personality, etc.) as soon as they met you, what would you want that to be?”
- 👨🔬 Comfort Zone Physics 101. For a whole different way to look at your comfort zone, see my post or video on the physics of how to (and how not to) expand it.
Go make your comfort zone sweat,
Next Consider This: The best way to motivate yourself.
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