Why Sometimes your Comfort Zone is the Key to your Success

Why are you always at home? You should go out more often, try new things, meet new people, be more adventurous. I feel like you’re always working. How come you’re always reading all the time? Do you not get bored? Don’t you have anything else to do? There’s this new restaurant you should try. You’ve never been to that place I told you about? Are you not coming to the party this weekend? You know, you should really step out of your comfort zone. 

Why are you always at home? You should go out more often, try new things, meet new people, be more adventurous. I feel like you’re always working. How come you’re always reading all the time? Do you not get bored? Don’t you have anything else to do? There’s this new restaurant you should try. You’ve never been to that place I told you about? Are you not coming to the party this weekend? You know, you should really step out of your comfort zone. 

There’s a lot of hype that surrounds leading an adventurous lifestyle, being extremely social and up-to-date on everything, trying new things and exploring the unknown. Embracing the status-quo and enjoying things as they are is apparently: plain boring, out-dated and not fun at all. While there is nothing wrong with welcoming aboard new opportunities and experiences, it is a question of whether we are being mindful of why we are doing such things.

‘Stepping out of the comfort zone’ as many would advocate, is an attempt to reach out for more: more experiences, more opportunities, etc. It’s going for the unknown in a world of endless possibilities. As romantic as that sounds, what that does is welcome distractions in our lives. How many times have you postponed something you should be doing to do what you want instead? Even when you knew that would make you more stressed eventually? Somehow we’re misled into thinking that we’re doing something fun and exciting or stepping out of our comfort zone when we’re actually just procrastinating. We live in a busy world where countless distractions fight for our attention on a daily basis making it exorbitantly difficult for us to do what we have to do. Seeking more is certainly not better, especially when we haven’t even taken a moment to enjoy and focus on our current stage in life. We’re quite aware of our nagging ambitions and pending to-do-lists yet we ignore them to go after the next big thing.

“Modern life is overwhelming. Messages bombard us, work is all-pervasive and politics is one big roller-coaster. It’s no wonder so many of end up getting constantly distracted” –  Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic (Blinkist)

A reliable comfort zone is essential. 

A reliable comfort zone is that place you go to, to focus on yourself and your goals. You are completely yourself and confident in your comfort zone and therefore do not need foreign intervention that will rob you of your focus and achieving your dream life.

When you are in your comfort zone, you have no business following what everyone else is doing or pursuing meaningless aims for the sake of leaving your comfort zone. Your time is valuable and thus you avoid occupying it with countless experiences that don’t necessarily contribute to your goals and instead distract you from what really matters to you.

A steady and meaningful routine, where you are the most present and focused, is going to produce a happy, stress-free and productive lifestyle that leads to success. Refusing to allow distractions to run your life does not make you boring or unsocial. Plus, there are far worse things than FOMO: blindly following the herd, or living an unfulfilled life and only realizing it before it’s too late. You have to be willing to say no to the distractions that come your way to focus on your goals. We already spend the majority of our time procrastinating, engaging in mindless entertainment via our Instagram feed (also procrastination), and forgoing all imminent obligations. Not to mention, battling our inner voice that never likes to be quiet. We don’t really need a sporadic break from our friendly comfort zone in a time where we need it the most. Just because you are in your comfort zone, does not automatically mean you are settling, lazy, lack confidence, afraid or incapable of broadening your horizons – but there’s a time for everything.

Your success depends on a productive comfort zone. 

You’ll want to hang out in a productive comfort zone. At some point in your life (the sooner the better), you should decide that you want to be productive in order to realize your goals and ambitions and become successful. In your productive comfort zone, figure out what you should be doing, plan how to get it done and stick to your plan. If you are unsure about what your goals are or how to achieve them, you can follow the guide I provided in this post.

At the same time, eliminate all distractions and make it impossible to lose your focus by saying no to the ones that will seep through anyway. Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and Stoic, always advised others to approach each task as it were their last. In doing so, external distractions will no longer be in our realm of focus. It’s extremely important that you value this time and hold on to the momentary excitement that will fuel all the hard work that will follow. Just imagine that you’re Steve Jobs and you have found how you could create a revolutionary device that’s going to make you the most successful entrepreneur in the world. Now imagine that after this breakthrough, instead of making a plan and following through your biggest dream, you instead book a flight to New Mexico because you decided that now is exactly the right time to fulfill your ancient bucket list escapades. Although maybe not as dramatic, that’s exactly what you are doing every time you voluntarily give up on yourself and your goals to pursue some random diversion.

Time and focus are detrimental in making things happen.  Delaying your goals is the same as telling yourself you are not good enough and losing the opportunity altogether. Leave your comfort zone only after you’ve achieved what you set out to do and have time to spare.

Whatever you want to do, do with full passion and work really hard towards it. Don’t look anywhere else. There will be a few distractions, but if you can be true to yourself, you will be successful for sure.” – Virat Kohli

Instead of leaving your comfort zone, make it more exciting.

If your comfort zone is merely a protective shield you use to keep yourself from any unfamiliar, stressful, or temporarily uncomfortable situations – you’re comfort zone is in fact, rather boring. The type of comfort zone you want to embrace is one that will enhance your productivity which you can’t really be when you’re overly comfortable. You shouldn’t coerce yourself to be stressed by engaging in unrelated activities or submitting to distractions, but you could voluntarily simulate a purposefully stressful event – like setting a deadline to complete your work and forbid yourself from receiving an appealing award if you miss it.

Being in your comfort zone is not about living in a static bubble afraid to experience life and its opportunities and not seeing outside of your literal comfort, but about embracing that sometimes just being where you are is simply good enough. A good comfort zone delivers clarity and can have positive impacts on our self-growth and path to success which requires determination and focus. By being mindful and realizing that we may be procrastinating, we could easily ignore the temptations that come with the cost of our decaying willpower and focus. While doing something out of the ordinary every once in a while is commendable, the goal is to be mindful of our decisions. We shouldn’t escape our comfort zone because we are pressurized to do so or to to relieve ourselves from important obligations.

You should step out of your comfort zone if it’s important to your goals.

This might contradict everything you just read, but here’s the thing. Leaving your comfort zone could be going out on a whim to pursue the career path you’ve always wanted, spending your hard-earned savings to buy an expensive property you’ve long dreamed about, or it could be you just wasting your time. You have to be able to distinguish between what matters and what doesn’t. Sometimes we have to just continue doing what we’re already doing because it just works. Other times, we should be willing to do the exact opposite.

It happens that sometimes we get too comfortable and fear making big decisions. Yet, unknowingly, such big decisions might be just what we need to grow. If the potential outcome of making such decision is in line with your goals or will benefit you in a significant way, you should at least be willing to consider it. Suppose your significant other got promoted to work in another country and you have to decide whether to accompany him or stay behind and have a long-term relationship instead. You’re scared, don’t like change, and never had to make such a huge decision before. Yet, one of your goals has always been to invest in your marriage and support your husband in all his endeavors. In this case, deciding to join him may be the way to go, even if it seems impossible at first. You never know what such big scary decision might lead to in the future.

There’s no point seeking sanctuary in your comfort zone just to avoid the difficult stuff. Always ask yourself: Is my decision in line with my goals or going to better my life in any way? In the above example, it might not be possible to make such a decision as you are tied down by an also important job, three kids, and you’ve just launched a start-up. However, if such decision will benefit you, instead of being afraid, you should be excited to take a leap forward.