A mini-guide to busting out of complacency and into productivity
While thrill-seekers and gambling addicts may buck the trend, the average person more or less shuns risk and the unknown. We fear the judgment of others. Failure and rejection are to be avoided whenever possible. Heck, some people avoid them at all costs! As children we explored and played and let our curious nature lead us where it may. A fear-based mindset hadn’t yet taken hold and ingrained itself. But as we ‘mature’ we slowly start to play it safe, holding ourselves back, and thereby putting a limit on the expression of our personality. This dampens our unique perspectives and overall potential.
The anxiety levels surging through our bodies mark our comfort zones in very clear and real ways that cannot be seen. Comfort zones are as unique and individual as, well…individuals. Psychologists actually define a comfort zone as an artificial mental boundary (key word being ‘artificial’). A comfort zone is a circumstance, situation, or environment in which one feels at ease, safe, empowered, and relaxed. It could essentially be viewed as familiar territory to an individual, whether that be habits or surroundings that conform to the expectations of the individual’s neurological system.
We all like being comfortable and all but the most masochistic folks would agree it is extremely damaging – mentally and physically – to bombard oneself with constant stress over prolonged periods. We all need familiarity, stability, and routine in our lives. But too much comfort can breed laziness, zap our drive, and leave us lacking something. But at what point does comfort and familiarity go from being healthy and normal to being the very definition of dull, sloth, and a limitation on our development?
A life lacking in growth and challenge is fun for a while – such as while you are on holiday – but we are not designed for such sedentary lifestyles. Too much contentment does to our mental state what atrophy does to an unused muscle. It weakens it to the point of being unable to function as it was meant to.
A Drag on Productivity
Too much comfort kills productivity because unless one is a true outlier, we often find ourselves doing the minimum to get by. This leads to regret and missed opportunities. In this state of ‘contentment’ it is a challenge to be highly productive and make a real improvement .
Hidden In Plain Sight
Fortunately there is a little self-improvement secret about pushing your limits that often goes unmentioned: the more you do it, the easier it becomes to face the unknown. Practice increases competence, and eventually challenging yourself and facing your fears can be extremely liberating and even habit forming! The self-esteem boost that one acquires from taking some part of their life or skillset to the next level is euphoria inducing and leads to happiness and overall feelings of well-being.
But it takes a lot of courage to break out of your comfort zone – so although it sounds like a nice thing to do, how should I go about doing it? First, let’s motivate ourselves!
We’ll start by listing the highlights of what’s in it for you.
Greater sense of control
Higher social capital leading to great social status and/or larger social circle
Improved Self Esteem
Heightened Self Awareness
Comfort in operating with ambiguity (Let’s face it – That’s most of life!)
Improved ability to see situations from other perspectives
Improved coping abilities
Greater Emotional Maturity
New skill acquisition
Heightened creativity and productivity
It All Begins in the Mind, Grasshopper
The first step to making this happen is to believe things can change. How do you do this? Visualize.
Check out our blog entry on Reality Transurfing because it is an incredible resource to help you do just this very task. Our thoughts have tremendous power. Psychologists and cutting edge neuroscientists nearly unanimously agree that what you tell yourself and focus on largely determines your outcome in life and the person you are and will become. Accept that all limitations are self-imposed. Even if that is not necessarily the case, at the very least it will help you take responsibility for all areas of your life. This is the first step of many spiritual traditions and it is no wonder that it is also the first step to believing in yourself and allowing yourself to believe that things can change.
The second step is to decide what you want to accomplish. Build a business, become an accomplished guitarist? Learn a foreign language or learn to code? Get in great shape? The possibilities are endless and only you can decide, and chances are if you are reading this now you already know what it is that is nagging at you – so deciding what you are going to accomplish is probably the easy part!
Now comes the fun part: accepting the challenge! People don’t accomplish worthwhile achievements when they are enjoying the highlife or riding on easy street. Let’s start with a little self-observation. Notice how much time you spend inside of your comfort zone. Ask yourself when the last time you really challenged yourself was. Do not be afraid of anxiety – embrace it because it is an emotion that is incredibly easy to harness into increased performance.
The Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins With a Single Step
Start something of significance and do something that matters by starting slow. Setting goals that allow you to only minimally leave your comfort zone creates an environment and experience that is not so unpleasant that you fall back into complacency. Rather, it creates momentum and allow you to view yourself as someone that accepts challenges.
Don’t look at challenges in a negative light. Take an honest assessment of yourself and recognize what’s holding you back and work towards realigning whatever that thing may be. When doing something new, there will always be some discomfort associated, but over time you will learn to open to, and even eventually embrace the experience as you push yourself to achieve new goals. This is basically synonymous with recalibrating your reality!
Mix It Up!
A general tip for busting out of the same old routine that breeds familiarity is to actually change your daily routine. Do a little thing that you normally wouldn’t do. Just let something pop into your mind. For me it would be to volunteer at a soup kitchen or take a yoga class in a different part of town that I don’t often visit. We’re creatures of habit and changing our habits or daily rituals in a small way is the first step to opening yourself up to new experiences. Start by stretching your personal boundaries in small ways and eventually you will become much more flexible overall.
After you have made little changes and taken a few small steps towards your larger ‘something that matters’ goal, you need to shake the fear of failure. Most of what we do fails, but fortunately everyone notices the time that you succeed. If you go at a slow and steady pace and incrementally improve, you will be simply stacking little success upon little success until it piles up into a big success, and then people will really take notice – not only at your accomplishments but by the person you will have undoubtedly morphed into. Author James Altucher says he simply tries to improve 1% everyday. Over the course of a year, this amounts to a tremendous improvement if one is consistent.
Train Your Brain to Enjoy the Pain!
When it comes to lifting weights and bodybuilding, we cannot expect to grow while we restrict ourselves to the same old routine. What this means is that the body adapts to whatever stimulus it has been given after a while. Eventually it needs a new stimulus if it is to continue growing and developing in new directions. A wise man once said (I think it was Tony Robbins) ‘With challenge comes growth.’ If you deprive yourself of the opportunity to grow then you are essentially limiting your happiness.
Keep in mind that your current comfort zone used to be uncomfortable terrain. Create the conditions necessary for a small change or a drastic transformation – only you possess the answer to what you need. The road to self-actualization will be paved with many mini-improvements, and expanded comfort zone boundaries. Find the sweet spot to your happiness and self-actualization. Once you’ve taken your life to the next level, you will look back and truly have knowledge that what formerly appeared to be impossible was just an illusion. It was nothing more than a self-imposed limitation.
Hone Your Focus With the Power of Belief
It is estimated the brain receives approximately 2 million bits of information per second, whereas it only has the capability to process 2,000 bits of information per second. Our current state of being, including our accomplishments and failures as individuals, is almost entirely a direct result of our beliefs, which guide our brain and direct its focus. Since processing all 2,000,000 bits of information per second is a physical limitation, beliefs are what guide our focus and tell our brain what 2,000 bits of information to take in as the most relevant information.
One way to change our beliefs is to change our routine and slowly expand our comfort zone, much like a bodybuilder changes up his workout routine in order to stimulate his or her muscles in a new, different, and challenging way. With challenge comes growth! Just like the dedicated bodybuilder grows to love the burn of a fierce workout and the muscle pump that immediately follows, so too do we all possess the capacity to love the process of expanding our horizons.
If you can implement new behaviours at a slow pace and with consistency, you will naturally learn to enjoy the process. It goes without saying that focusing on enjoying the process ie the immediate tasks at hand is what will carry you through the long haul. Visualizing the greater outcome is a great thing to do, but please don’t forget to chunk down and actually like what you are doing. Focus on the immediate task to the exclusion of all fear and distraction…and if you keep getting distracted by social media or web-browsing, be sure to sign up for a free-trial of Focus Me, the most powerful productivity app available. You’ll be very happy you did. Until next time!