Become a Business Magnet: Are You Parked in the COMFORT Zone?


By Saralyn Collins


In our homes most of us have thermostats that regulate the temperature. When it gets a bit too warm, the air conditioning comes on to cool things off. When the temperature drops below a comfortable point, the heater comes on to move the temperature up so it will be warmer. The “comfort zone” is the range of temperature that’s not too hot and not too cold, just comfortable. Our personal comfort zone is where we’re comfortable with what we are doing, in our work and our lives. It’s when we experience no feelings of risk or anxiety. Some call it being comfortable. Others call it a “rut.”


600px-Money-flowerWhatever you call it, it is very easy for any of us to fall into the trap of “comfort” with what we are doing. Even those of us who take some pride in spontaneity can easily find ourselves in a “routine of comfort.” Most of the time, we don’t even realize it until something happens to make us aware.


Try this: Fold your arms in front of you. Yes, stop reading and just do it.


Now, fold them the other way. How did that make you feel? Felt a bit unnatural.


You fold your arms the way you do because… that is the way you have always done it. It is a comfortable routine and you do it without thinking. If you try to do it another way, it is uncomfortable… until you have practiced it enough that it now becomes the “routine” for you.


There is nothing inherently wrong with being comfortable in our routines. But, the downside is that always staying in our comfort zones can be limiting. The world passes us by as we stagnate.


Make a conscious effort to experiment. Think about something very exciting and positive you want to do. Let yourself feel the adrenaline level rise a bit. Allow your anticipation level to increase. Feel your heart rate and breathing going faster. Adrenaline is your body’s natural drug that, in moderation, makes you sharp, creative and quick. It creates the feeling of excitement and exhilaration that comes from trying something new.


Recognize that it also can be scary and somewhat stressful. This may be a radical thought for you in the age of massive “stress reduction theories” (from which we can all benefit) but, it is my opinion that trying for a goal of a “stress-FREE” life is not in your best interest.


Read this carefully now. I understand I am walking a proverbial “tight-rope” here with these thoughts. Of course, productivity and unmanageable stress cannot co-exist. I believe and try to practice many of the stress reduction concepts presented today. Over the years I’ve also been victim to the physical toll unmanageable, negative stress causes to our bodies.


But for most of us anticipation, excitement, and stress all produce similar symptoms of adrenaline in our bodies. Perhaps our goal should be more along the lines of a manageable stress level as opposed to a stress-FREE life.
Some types of stress/excitement/anticipation can have a huge positive effect on your life. That is where our “get it done” feeling exists. So—can you see why we would want to give ourselves the stress of stepping outside the comfort zone?


Because that’s where growth takes place.


Everyone lives and works – usually in that order- predominantly in ONE zone. Certainly there is movement back and forth, but most people stabilize in one place—at least for a period.


According to “ the experts,” while there are four zones: Dead, Panic, Comfort, and Stretch zones—the two most common zones among many business people are Panic and Comfort.


See how many of these characteristics of those in the “COMFORT” zone describe you—to some degree.


1. People in this zone want to be effective.


2. They have been successful in the past and want to continue, so do all the same old things that worked before.


3. This zone is very seductive because it is natural for people to want to reproduce what worked before.


4. They fine-turn in response to change but they don’t change.


5. Think of themselves as open but really aren’t.


6. May be smart and work hard but have blinders on.


7. Don’t get the feedback or support necessary to help them see around their blinders and progress beyond comfort level.


Started out sounding much better than it did by the end—right? Well, maybe you see yourself more in the “Panic” zone. Just a few characteristics of this zone are:


1. Many people spend a great deal of time here. This is the zone of reactive adjustment.


2. It is good because it does wake people up and get their attention.3. People here usually care very much or they wouldn’t panic.


4. But because they feel panicked, they can’t learn or perform well here.


5. Their judgment is impaired and they don’t make good decisions.


6. Burnout happens here and quality of work suffers.


7. People struggle with indecision and can become paralyzed.


8. People know the old systems aren’t working but are at a loss about what to do.


9. Winding up in the PANIC ZONE is a result of being in the COMFORT ZONE too long.


10. This zone creates exhaustion, diminishing and draining everyone.


Wow, just reading this list exhausts me! Some of these sound entirely too familiar. So—what to do?


Most of us are already well into the process of trying to determine how to make this year even more efficient and effective—more profitable. Some are working on setting new goals and hoping for better outcomes.


Often it is this juxtaposition of knowing we need to “be organized” and approach our days with focus and determination and how the world conspires to keep us from accomplishing this that creates the majority of negative stress in our lives.


Entirely too many people go into the week with little idea of how they see their days unfolding. If they do any planning, they write a jumbled list of “to do” tasks. But at the end of the day we know we simply did not accomplish all we should have.


Without a PROCESS for doing what matters, on a daily and hourly basis, successfully reaching your “goals” is much less likely!


When we struggle to “be our best” or reach our goals, then a higher level of negative stress sets in and moving to the “Panic zone” has a high probability.


But “doing more” or increasing your activity level is NOT the answer. Jim Rohn once said: “Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy.


The question is: “Busy doing what?”


There’s only one real reason why very successful people seem to get so many of the important things done. They simply have found a strategy that works. And they execute on it continuously.


So, is this the time you need to get out of your “comfort zone” or stop living in the “panic zone” and get your stress level under control? It is astonishing how designing “processes” that actually direct your daily routine can relieve that stress and generate the productivity level for which you have been searching!



If you are ready to move out of the Panic or Comfort zone into the Stretch zone, contact Saralyn. She has many years’ experience helping others design strategies that actually work. Also join us for the Biz Magnet Lunch & Learn the third Thursday of every month where we discuss some of the very tactics you need.


Written by Saralyn Collins