Community//

Can Growth Only Happen Outside of Our Comfort Zone?

Our comfort zone is sometimes just what we need.

More and more nowadays we are faced with the decision to focus on either having a growth mindset or a fixed mindset, meaning we get to choose between focusing on the opportunity for growth, development and progression, in whatever shape that may take in our lives, or essentially remaining as we are, closed-off and ignorant to change or growth. 

The thing about change however, is that it is inevitable and as such, the former of the two options, focusing on maintaining a growth mindset, seems to be the logical choice, in order to empower lasting positive growth and transformation in our lives. 

There is also the school of thought that growth only really occurs outside of our comfort zone, that we should live through the fear, if we want to experience success, that the outside of our comfort zone is where the real magic lies. This means having to constantly be stretched beyond the limitations we place on ourselves, and those that are perhaps placed on us by others or society as a whole, in order to experience growth.

If we hold it true that growth only really occurs when we step outside of our comfort zone, that this is where the magic happens etc, does this mean that we constantly need to be pushing ourselves, stretching further than we are comfortable with, striving to ‘go beyond’, to achieve more, so that we can have more or be more? If we don’t, does this mean we cannot experience “the magic” of transformation?

This is the question I was faced with recently, and it made me re-evaluate how I define and determine progress and growth, which will be different for everybody.

What if transformation and growth could happen in all the ‘zones’?

Ultimately the answer comes down to how you, as an individual, measure growth and progress. What that means, to you. 

Being able to be in my zone of comfort, allowing my comfort zone to be expanded, to be able to reflect and review in a space of mental and emotional safety, in order to align with the growth and transformation I seek, in whatever shape, way or form may be relevant to the circumstance at the time, has become equally as important as being stretched. In fact it has allowed me to find even more clarity at times.

Now, I’m not talking about ignorantly remaining in a state of denial, so please don’t misunderstand. Being stretched outside my zone of comfort certainly has and does facilitate necessary breakthroughs in the limiting beliefs and the boundaries that I set for myself, as well as those projected by others and society, as I mentioned earlier. 

Additionally, it has and does also help me see that my comfort zone is not the enemy. In fact, it is a necessary safe haven for reflection and recovery, in order to recharge and re-emerge. 

As somebody who strives to achieve, I’m often fuelled by the challenge of stepping outside of my zone of comfort. It is the opposite of this that makes me uneasy and challenges me, i.e. just allowing myself the space to be comfortable with where I’m at and take some time to appreciate that. 

Is there anything improper about allowing and accepting the achievements, circumstances and outcomes to be what they are, as part of the journey and embodying the lessons learned, rather than constantly having to strive for more, push for more, stretch for more, aiming to be ‘out of our comfort zone more’ in order to experience growth and claim our next success because we ‘pushed ourselves beyond? 

I don’t believe so.

Does this mean that I don’t want more or that I’ll be reluctant to extend myself when necessary? Of course not. I think the beauty of it lies in balance. 

Keeping in mind, that what one may count as success also plays a key role and that each individual’s journey and experience will be uniquely theirs, I’ve come to realise that growth and transformation can occur wherever we are in our journey, whichever zone we choose to be in, and it is allowing for this, in fact, expecting it as part of the process, empowering a balance of the two alternatives (residing within the zone of comfort and stepping out of it), that make the best combination on the path to success.

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