The Discomfort Zone – As this journey called life has brought challenges that push me to grow, I’ve come to realize that it’s not easy to grow, and it’s not always a straight line forward. Growth comes in fits and spurts. But it also comes with a dose of the universe fighting to keep things static.
When we hit the discomfort zone, where the resistance to change becomes uncomfortable, we have to keep stretching.
First, I must give credit where credit is due. Though we’re all probably familiar with the concept, I first heard it called this in Barbara Stanny’s (now Huron’s) great book Overcoming Underearning. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
Basically, we start with where we currently are in life in whatever specific area we’re talking about. That’s our comfort zone. Let’s take finances, since that’s my zone of genius. For example, maybe your income level is currently $50,000 a year. Not bad, depending on where you live. Maybe it’s even considered good. But perhaps you are feeling a bit frustrated. You feel like you are worth more, have the smarts to earn more, and even just want to make more.
Where we’ve been sitting and where we’ve been comfortable for quite some time is our comfort zone.
When we start to grow, Stanny explains, we hit the discomfort zone and experience resistance, fear, and discomfort. It may be in the form of self-sabotage. Or it might feel like the universe is fighting to keep us stuck by making it really difficult to change.
If the next level up is where we want to be and feel we belong or deserve, we have to push ourselves to get out of the discomfort.
As Stanny says, “The stretch carries with it this strict stipulation: feel the fear, endure the discomfort, observe the resistance, and go for it anyway.”
It’s healthy to challenge the status quo and want to grow. Don’t let your life stagnate. Challenge yourself to grow and find a new comfort zone that is greater, bigger, more amazing than where you are currently.
Following our example, let’s say you’re ready to break your income barrier. In fact, you’re itching to make $75,000 a year. It’s time to push yourself.
Here’s where it gets interesting. You need to pay attention to what happens when you try to break out of your current comfort zone.
Some might call it self-sabotage; some might say the universe reacts to your challenge. Say it however you will, the fact is that more often than not, when you try to grow, things pop up to try to drag you back to your former level. It might simply be a small stumble, or it might be greater resistance.
Generally, these setbacks don’t seem related. They just seem like life, but don’t let them deter you.
If you are trying to increase your income, you might decide that you need to ask the boss to trust you with a new bigger client or project than you’ve ever handled before. Let’s say the boss agrees and you’re faced with proving yourself in order to get that long overdue raise. You start by getting up earlier and heading out to the car full of excitement and enthusiasm.
Then it happens. You dump your cup of coffee all over your car seat and have to run back into the house, grab cleaning supplies, and hurry to get the mess cleaned up. Not a big setback. You started early so you still have plenty of time to arrive on schedule.
You manage to get to the office on time and dive into your new assignment with gusto. Then you get a call from your child’s school and your kiddo is sick. You must go pick her up and take her home. Ok, you manage that and get settled into your home office and back to your project. Soon you’re back in the groove and working away. Still on top of things.
Then the Wi-Fi goes out and you’re dead in the water. You can’t meet the deadline your boss set. You’re going to have to concede that you couldn’t manage the new client/project after all.
Wait a minute. Are you going to give in to this challenge? Are you going to let all these small setbacks keep you from your bigger dream?
The choice is yours. Either rally and figure out a way to overcome the obstacles that come up when you try to stretch out of your comfort zone, or allow them to pull you back down to your previous level and stay where you were. You’ll never know if you could have earned more if you’d overcome the challenges that popped up in the discomfort zone.
Recognize that these “incidents” are really just your fear or resistance to change, or your subconscious trying to keep you from growing and being everything you are capable of being. It’s not worth giving in to.
Instead of giving up in defeat and shrinking back to where you’ve been stuck, fight back.
Open your hotspot, get your sick child a snack, and go back to your computer and finish the new project.
Push through the obstacles that are thrown in your way. You can overcome, move up to a new level, and live a bigger, more beautiful life.
Staying in our current comfort zone and not learning to see the setbacks that arise when we hit the discomfort zone for what they are is playing it safe.
Greatness does not happen overnight. And it does not happen from the safety of your current position. It comes from understanding that the universe is going to try to keep you where you are, but you don’t have to go along with that plan. You are in charge of your destiny. You can choose not only the dream or goal, but the path that takes you there.
Fight the discomfort zone. Fight the fear and resistance that tries to keep you from stretching. Find a way to reach your dreams, whatever they are.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse