It’s the mental condition in which people act with apparent calmness, without being anxious or taking risks, as they are reassured by the presence of a well-known, customary, or habitual context.

The concept of zone of comfort in itself may assume a positive connotation but it most often refers to a limiting condition:

  • on one side, it allows one to remain in a state of quiet, without strains or stressors that may undermine his/her stability. For such reason it may have a positive function, for example, in helping one recover his/her balance after particularly stressful moments;
  • on the other, it may end up strongly preventing one’s development, growth, and learning and keeping him/her in a state of excessive stability or even stalemate.

In this second case, according to the self-empowerment approach, such a stalemate, caused by remaining within one’s comfort zone, acts as a brake, hindering experimentation and the achievement of new knowledge, behaviors, and skills – especially when such mechanism is unconscious.

In particular, we would like to outline two areas of implication:

  • outwards: relationships take a – more or less – defined path, our attitude tends to remain the same over and over and, above all, our worldview (our opinion on people, work, interests) constantly adheres to the same models that often prevent us from exploring new alternatives; we are all well aware of how prejudices towards someone (a customer, a boss, a co-worker…) are activated;
  • inwards: we often tend to look for evidences that confirm ourselves and our views, both on what we consider our qualities, as well as on the hindrances that block us and prevent us from evolving; here comes our reassuring comfort zone that makes us say: “that’s the way I am, what can I do about it?”. On the contrary, in order to become aware and achieve those skills we would not otherwise have, it might be useful to take some risks and push ourselves to the limit or outside our well-known comfort zone.

So, what should we do about it? One way might be that of getting in touch with some long-forgotten desires so as not to uniquely satisfy our everyday needs (actually, you try to find a balance between stability and change, in which, however, stability prevails).

Another way might be that of breaking some daily habits that, although reassuring, only contribute to iterating the already known, while constantly marking the same path.

Surely enough, every step taken out of our comfort zone and every challenge to our habits require extra energies and an added dose of courage and determination. Not trying to get out of one’s comfort zone might already be an indicator that such mechanism is in action. At what cost? Definitely at the price of limiting our experience while, at the same time, of not experimenting some skills or qualities that remain hidden to both ourselves and others.

Have you ever tried crossing your arms in a different way than you are used to? Even changing a small habit requires a certain deal of concentration and effort.
We suggest you try increasing the degree of change in your life by doing the following three things in the next few days:

  • Choose a habit (for example some habits in your morning routine) and challenge yourself to do that thing differently every day for one week;
  • Find something you tend to procrastinate because it’s less natural or easy than you are comfortable with (for example a task you have to accomplish at work) and, for one week, commit yourself to doing that thing as soon as you can, without postponing it;
  • Find something you’ve never tried but have always been curious about and, at least once, try doing that.

At the end of this week of changes in your routine, leave a feedback on how it worked for you in the comments section.

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