In this post: Discover a new model that may help you better visualize and understand how to expand your Comfort Zone into your Potential.
Even though you and I probably have never met, I suspect your Comfort Zone, like mine, is roughly here relative to your Potential:
You’ve tapped into some of your Potential, but not much. And given that you’re reading this post rather than gawking at cute pets and babies or sexy twenty-somethings on social media, you presumably want to improve your situation.
That means doing two things:
- Shifting your Comfort Zone into your Potential.
- Expanding your Comfort Zone to fill your Potential.
But the problem, as you, me, and the bajillion dollar personal development industry are well aware, is doing so isn’t easy—and obviously uncomfortable.
It’s rewarding, though. Possibly even fun.
And if you’re willing to embrace a bit of discomfort to understand the following crazy-looking diagram, I bet you’ll have a better idea of how to start:
If reading blog posts is not inside your Comfort Zone, watch this instead:
The 4 Obstacles to Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Obstacle #1: Delusion
This is your Delusion Bubble:
Your Delusion Bubble is what you think your Potential is.
It changes all the time.
When I was in high school, my Delusion Bubble included me being an NBA player. Then pre-pretirement, it was being CEO of the company I worked at, Procter and Gamble. And now it may be my dreams of becoming some sort of taller, chiller Tim Ferriss.
Delusion Bubbles are problematic because they aren’t in the same place as our Potential:
So even when you muster up the motivation to push your Comfort Zone in deluded directions, you make no progress.
Because you’re fruitlessly fighting the second obstacle in the way of expanding your Comfort Zone into your Potential, The Force of Reality.
Obstacle #2: Reality
The Force of Reality is composed of various mini-forces like:
- Other people who are better than you
And Reality is stronger than you, so whatever effort you exert, you will never make any progress against it. But, because most of our Delusion Bubbles are directly opposed to Reality, we waste our willpower trying, anyway.
Take my former dreams of becoming a basketball star as an example. I tried as hard as I could to jump higher and shoot straighter, but the Reality of my genetics dragged me down.
It was hopeless.
And, since my fantasies of being the next Steve Nash were more in the direction of Delusion than my Potential, my efforts hardly helped me expand my Comfort Zone.
But at least I was doing something.
If you do nothing, the constant pressure of the Force of Reality will squeeze your Comfort Zone until it’s a raisin.
For instance, if I sit around blogging the same way about the same stuff all the time, the Reality of changing interests, technology, and my growing senility would cause my audience and influence to disappear. This would make me feel uncomfortable, so I’d abandon blogging and curl up inside my ever-shrinking Comfort Zone.
Worse yet, the third obstacle to expanding my Comfort Zone into my Potential will blow it backward.
Obstacle #3: Complacency
The Force of Complacency, like the Force of Reality, exerts negative pressure against your Comfort Zone:
But Complacency isn’t as powerful as Reality. If you push the edges of your Comfort Zone directly into it, you can overcome it and inch forward into your Potential.
Complacency is an incessant headwind, so you have to constantly resist it. If not, it’ll push your Comfort Zone backward—away from your Potential and toward the fourth obstacle: your Danger Zone.
Obstacle #4: The Danger Zone
This is your Danger Zone:
The Danger Zone is where bad things happen to you. Things like:
And the more time you spend in your Danger Zone, the worse they become. But we do it anyway because, for most of us, part of our Comfort Zone overlaps the Danger Zone:
This overlapping area is the Zone of Despair. Many everyday activities are within the Zone of Despair. They include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating junk food
- Watching TV and porn
- Consuming social media
- Frivolous spending
- Saying yes to meetings you don’t need to attend
These activities are alluring and pleasurable, and Complacency pushes us toward them, so we tend to spend more time than we should doing them.
And some lunatics do even worse by pushing the edges of their Comfort Zones toward their Danger Zones:
The border separating our Comfort Zone from the fiery inferno of the rest of our Danger Zone is the Sanity Line. It shields you from doing uncomfortable and dangerous nonsense like smoking fentanyl, gambling your entire fortune on a single bet, stabbing yourself in the leg with a pencil, or trying to run across busy highways blindfolded.
People push against their Sanity Line thinking they’re “getting out of their Comfort Zones,” which we’re all told is a good thing to do. It’s not. It’s insane. Doing so only pushes your Comfort Zone further away from its Potential.
Now let’s use this model to look at strategies for doing the opposite.
The Strategies for Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Strategy #1: Shift your Delusion toward your Potential.
The more you manage to shift your Delusion Bubble in the direction of your Potential, the less effort you waste fruitlessly fighting the Force of Reality, and the more you direct it toward overcoming Complacency to steadily push your Comfort Zone into your Potential.
How do you do so?
One way is by shifting the border between your Potential and your Delusion Bubbles, the False Fence of Identity:
The False Fence of Identity is formed by either:
- Thinking you’re someone you’re not. (e.g., “I think I’m hot sh*t.”)
- Having fixed or limiting identity. (e.g., “I’m too old to do that.”)
To give you another personal example of the latter, I used to self-identify as a “shy guy.” So I acted accordingly by keeping to myself. I didn’t think I could do anything about it, so I couldn’t see my true, full Potential.
But then I read one of my favorite mind-changing books, Quiet. It changed my identity. Rather than identify as shy, I shifted my identity toward being introverted. Introversion doesn’t limit me, and now that I understand this aspect of myself, I have a more expansive view of where my Potential may lay.
So books are one way to push your identity fence. Others include:
- Trial and error. For instance, my pretirement misadventures taught me I’m not caught up to being a big-time startup CEO. I’m better suited as an excellent CEO of My Life and helping others figure out how to be the same.
- Outside feedback. Find demotivational speakers who will tell you to “f*ck your dreams if they’re not yours,” as Charlamagne Tha God eloquently puts it. Second, listen carefully for when people tell you you’re doing something special so you know to look harder in that direction for your Potential. And third, ask family and friends where they think your Potential lies.
Strategy #2: Push your Fulfillment Frontier.
When you have a better idea of where your Potential lies, it’s a matter of pushing the edges of your Comfort Zone to get it there.
That border is your Fulfillment Frontier:
You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been pushing my Fulfillment Frontier with this post. I’ve never used diagrams to explain a concept before. It feels uncomfortable. But I know it’s in the direction of my Potential, so I’m powering through the Force of Complacency to try it.
There are endless strategies for pushing your fulfillment frontier. The better you know your Potential, the better you’ll know what to do. This blog and my newsletter share a bunch of my favorite ideas I find. Check those later, if you want.
For now, let’s stick to one not-so-obvious strategy for motivating yourself to expand your Comfort Zone into your Potential:
Strategy #3: Motivate yourself with perspective.
When fighting Complacency and pushing your Fulfillment Frontier feels overwhelming, these two perspective exercises will motivate you to keep at it.
Compare your comfort zone to other people’s.
Not to brag, but a lot of what I find easy and enjoy doing is way out of other people’s Comfort Zones. Examples include fasting, outdoor workouts, blogging, traveling off the beaten path, and sleeping on the floor.
Plenty of people don’t believe these activities are truly in my Comfort Zone. More importantly, they don’t think there’s any way they could be comfortable doing the same.
But that’s BS.
I’m not special. Anyone can do it.
Likewise, I’m sure there are things inside your Comfort Zone that other people have a hard time believing they could expand their Comfort Zones to encompass. But they can. Because you’re not that special, either.
Now take this perspective and think of people whose Comfort Zones are way bigger than yours.
What do you think one of these mega-Comfort Zone-ed folk would say if you told them you didn’t believe you could ever become as comfortable as they are at what they do?
As long as it doesn’t defy Reality, they’d tell you it’s not impossible. They’re not special. At some point, their comfort zone was once the same size as yours.
Compare Yourself to Your Past and Future Selves
It’s also self-motivating to remind yourself how uncomfortable you used to be doing many of the things you now do comfortably.
For example, I can think back to Young Chris, who didn’t speak other languages and got nervous calling strangers on the phone.
My Comfort Zone’s grown a lot since then. Not only does this make me feel proud of my efforts, but it also encourages me to pass on the favor to my future self to ensure that lucky guy has one helluva swanky Comfort Zone.
Consider trying the same.
By now, you should have a comfortable understanding of the model from the beginning of this post:
While this diagram depicts where your Comfort Zone is at today, if you keep honing in on your Potential and fighting Complacency by pushing at your Fulfillment Frontier, your situation may one day look more like this:
Your Comfort Zone will have expanded significantly, it’ll have moved outside of your Danger Zone, and it will fill up a good chunk of your Potential.
It’ll take time and effort to get there. But that’s life. There’s truly nothing better to do. Hopefully you look forward to the challenge as much as I do.
And hopefully this post helped you understand how to make it happen.
You might want to get your comfort zone looked at…
Take the free 20-question Comfort Zone Self-Assessment to:
- Measure your comfort zone’s overall fitness level.
- Identify which area(s) need your attention.
- Prescribe life-improving interventions.
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