Whenever we take on a new project, try anything new, attempt to set new goals or standards for ourselves we will, at some point, come face to face with our comfort zone. Its not a matter of if it will happen its a matter of when it will happen.
PERFORMANCE COMFORT ZONES
I work with professionals in sports and business/sales and at every level comfort zones come into play. For example, when I ask a golfer what they shoot they might answer, I shoot in the mid 80s. This is a subtle statement of their comfort zone. A comfort zone sets us up to perform within its limitations and acts as a magnet pulling us in that direction. For example, around the 14th hole a golfer may notice they are shooting their all-time best score. When they become aware of this their performance begins to drift back to the point where their final score is somewhere around their usual score (or even higher!) In sports and business, teams are affected by comfort zones as well. If the team is used to performing poorly their overall comfort zones create subtle obstacles that cause them to continue their poor performance. People who excel have a higher comfort zone than people and teams who dont. They expect to perform well while those with lower comfort zones tend to have lower expectations. The irony is, it often has very little to do with talent or skill. This is the power an established comfort zone can have on us. It affects performance in sports, business and life! Are you comfortable earning the money you say you want? Are you comfortable reaching your personal or professional goals?
ACTIONS DO SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
Our actions, not our words reveal our comfort zones. A limiting comfort zone can prevent us from taking the required action we need to meet our dreams. In my coaching/speaking programs I ask people to focus on actions and not words as being a reflection of their truth. Words, stories or excuses (blaming others, etc.) can create a smoke screen but actions (or inactions) are clear indicators of our comfort zones and much easier to identify. When we are honest about our own comfort zones we can rapidly uncover the hidden beliefs, assumptions and interpretations that cause us to be stuck and make faster shifts toward what we want.
HOW COMFORT ZONES ARE FORMED
A comfort zone is formed by experience which over time and repetition turns easily into a belief. Many of us are very good at proving our comfort zones are real by recreating the limiting experiences over and over again. Each time we do, we reinforce the belief sending subtle messages to ourselves such as, I knew this would happen or I knew Id only get this far. Over time our comfort zones become our unspoken expectations (this is where I always wind up!). A comfort zone is a state of mind and usually has little to do with your actual talent or skill. Its easy to prove them by using self-fulfilling prophecy (I knew it!) but instead of proving them time and againwhy not break them instead?
BREAKING COMFORT ZONES
There are many great ways to help break comfort zones and in this short article I will offer just a few that Ive used with sports and business clients.
1. Be honest with yourself. This is the simplest and yet can be the most challenging step to take. The truth is; if you wont be honest with yourself about what youre doing and whether its working it is very difficult to move forward. Be honest. If you have a fear or limiting belief about yourself or a task/situation, put it out there for yourself. There is nothing wrong with it; its just a belief and is not a true reflection of your worth, talent or skill.
2. Dont assume youre right! Dont assume just because youve proven your comfort zone by repeating it so often in the past that it has anything to do with today. It doesnt! Its only a memory based on past experience (I always do this!) and is no reflection of your capabilities right now! Take one small action step right now to prove this to yourself.
3. Start Small - All comfort zones can be broken and expanded. Pick ONE area and create a small but steady process that allows you to bust through it. For example, if you want to improve some aspect of your game or your life, take small strides each day that will break that comfort zone. Decide to make 2 decisions each day this week and your comfort level will grow within a short period of time! Just take the action and your comfort level will expand, so will your confidence!