I get tired of hearing the statement: step out of your comfort zone. Why is this necessary to be successful?

A comfort zone is a nice place. It’s where I have my television, my computer, and my headphones. My comfort zone is also a place that is highly guarded and I am familiar with all its corners and turns. Honestly, I want to stay in my comfort zone because this is where I feel most successful.

They tell me, “In order to get anywhere new in life, you have to leave first – you have to step out of your comfort zone.” But, I don’t believe this is true. Why can’t I have a place that makes me comfortable and able to find success in life as well? And by success, I don’t mean a load of cash flowing out every window, and I don’t mean fancy cars lining my driveway either. Because success to me means being happy, and I am happy in my comfort zone.

So, am I successful according to society?

I guess that depends on how you define success. The primary idea of success for traditional human culture revolves around money. Money rules the world, you might say. There are so many people who will do almost anything in order to get money. Then there is notoriety, and there is status – these things are also coveted by the success hunter. But, again, what is the true definition of success?

Success (n.): the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose.

Now, look at that. Let that definition sink in for a moment. Where do you see the words, “making money”, or is there a single mention of “being famous”? The pure meaning of success has to do with fulfillment, and this can be achieved in any form or fashion depending on what you desire the most.

So, should you step out of your comfort zone or should you stay there where you feel most fulfilled by your surroundings?

I think you know the answer to that question, but if not, let’s look at a few points.

I read motivational articles sometimes, not so much to “transform” my life, but to augment the life I already have. I read many things, including those irritating little step out of your comfort zone training posts. I do this because I want to see their point of view and counter that point of view with my own. Here are a few examples:

“The real life is out there”

I hate this so much I cringed when I read it. I get what they are saying, I really do, but why is my comfortable, quiet life considered less than one where I have to be outgoing?

I am some hybrid or ambivert or something of that nature, and I like who I am, to be honest. I find my life just as real as some forceful interaction with other human beings. I write, I am satisfied and I don’t step outside my comfort zone at all. I am so comfortable it would make you jealous.

“Don’t settle for mediocre”

I live in a rural area, void of heavy crime and I can open a window to hear birds singing. I am so comfortable here, and I do what I love. Did you get that? I do what I love! I am far from settling for mediocre, I am reaching for success in my writing career.

If I was to step outside my comfort zone, I would be attempting something that I am really not all that interested in, anyway. When I apply for writing jobs, I am quite comfortable about the whole situation. Maybe I stepped outside my comfort zone a bit years ago, but now, I am quite okay with how my life is. It’s not settling, it’s thriving.

As for you, do what makes you happy, not what others consider mediocre and less than the best. They wouldn’t notice the difference.

“You need to face change”

Whether or not I’m good with change has nothing to do with leaving my comfort zone. If things change, I had much rather deal with them while comfortable then while stressing to force myself into the new situation. If change is coming, it cannot be stopped by being uncomfortable, and if change must be, it will happen regardless of what I am doing. Leaving your comfort zone to embrace change means adding stress where stress is already there due to the change. What sense does this make?

The idea of change can be a bit convoluting, so let me give you an example:

There are two opposite choices to make, and I am sitting on the fence. I was told to step out of my comfort zone in order to embrace change. Apparently, sitting on the fence was my comfort zone, and in order to embrace change, I must jump in one direction or the other.

In my experience, change will come whether I leave the fence or not, whether I know what to do or whether I don’t. Sometimes, believe it or not, decisions have to be made without my input. Sometimes it’s okay to not know what to do. Sometimes, “gasp” and heaven forbid, things just have to flow naturally into place.

You can call me irresponsible, lazy or whatever, but the facts remain the same – seeking to step out of your comfort zone is not always the best option. Sometimes embracing your own happiness and peace of mind is the only way to be true to yourself, the only road to success and the only mode of fulfillment.

I’m shutting it down, now.

Want me to leave my comfort zone? What is your reason and argument for that? My experience in sales vs. networking has proven to me that there are more stability and success in working behind the scenes, building your portfolio and promoting your work. You want to peddle your shoe polish and vitamins, go ahead. I will just wait till networking brings me another client.

You dig?

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Ken Rabehl

    Hi Sherrie,

    I am writing to propose the counter argument to your “not leaving your comfort zone”.

    I was hoping to be able to check out a bit about your life on google before I wrote this comment. But couldn’t find anything.

    This article says you have 10 years of success as a writer, but you don’t mention if you make a living at it. Do you?

    I agree with you that success in our culture is primarily measured by financial wealth, material objects (cars, house, pile of cash in the bank or in investments). I believe these are false pursuits to attempt to fill an empty space in our lives, only the empty hole cannot be filled that way.

    But there are many other measures of a success. For me these are success at social interaction, spiritual success, the success of doing things you want to do, but are afraid to try.

    As a young man I didn’t have much a clue about life. I lived in my parents home till I was 24. I was afraid of women so I never dated, I was afraid to take the chance of being rejected. I also felt this way about work. I toke the average jobs as a busboy and such. These jobs were fine back in high school. but

    After high school I went to art college, as I had talent the. I wanted so much to date the girls meet there, some of them even wanted to get to know me, but I was so afraid that I was inadequate and would be rejected that I literally walked away from their obvious attempts at “yes, I am interested”. Why was I like this? Because I was unable to get out of my comfort zone. So I stayed there alone.

    As for work I had trouble getting a decent job, I was unwilling to really step and believe in my qualities, again to afraid to act on my own behalf. So I settled for crap jobs.

    In my mid twenties I lived with a group of young guys from czech republic. We were in a house where we all rented a room. They were rock and mountain climbers from the czech national climbing team when they were back in their home country. They had to escape to come here.

    I started to go with them to do rock climbing and mountaineering. We live an hour and a half from some incredible mountains, between Squamish and Whistler.

    These guys were hard partiers and amazing rock climbers. I was afraid of climbing at first, but I knew that I really wanted to do this, and I was sick being afraid, of not leaving my comfort zone. So I pushed myself and with time I was able to over come the fear and do some awesome climbs. the feeling of accomplishment was exhilarating and I realized I could apply this courage to other aspects of my life. But I needed to leave number of comfort zones to do it.

    I started to screw up the courage to meet women. Let me tell you this was more difficult than the hardest climbs!

    Slowly over the years I gained more confidence with being around women. In my forte I was pretty good with connecting with the opposite sex. I learned so much about the wonders of women not just to have a girlfriend or wife but to have women as my friends. I had a number of female friends over the years as well as girlfriends and was married for 10 years. This rich connection with women, gave my life a beautiful dimension which would not have happened if I had not stepped out of my comfort zone and faced my fear.

    I am an artist who has worked in the film industry as an illustrator for over 30 years. It is a rough business to get into and stay employed in. You need to step out of your comfort zone to survive in this business, the art and design challenges as well as the social challenges are many.

    I have travelled all over the world now. I have been deep into the Amazon where no tourists go, climbed to the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal, climbed Mount Kenya, and many other adventures in Australia, Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. Before I went to Africa I had only been as far as California. I remember being some what worried on the plane to Nairobi. It was my first back packing trip, I didn’t know anyone there. But I got over my fear, bit the bullet and made Africa a success. From then on I had a thirst for back pack travel. I had many awesome personally and spiritually enriching experiences. Had I not over come my comfort zone fears, none of it would have happened.

    I have come close to death in an ice climbing avalanche, When I was travelling on a very steep high mountain road in Ecuador, our truck came very close to going over a cliff when the truck lost it’s breaks.

    It is the experiences in life that form who we are. We are a raw piece of steel put into the fires of the forge of life. That steel is hammered into a resilient shape, which becomes our character, gives us the capacity for compassion, gives strength which we can draw upon when we face an uphill battle.

    I could have stayed in my comfort zone and accepted my fears. But I would not had the rich experiential life I had. I would not have come to be the person I am now.

    My life was successful because I forced myself out of my comfort zone and lived. That is part of the lessons of life, conquering fear and then walking through the door to get the rewards that lie on the other side.

    “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”

    I am 56 years old now and have a terminal illness. I will die in a couple of months by lethal injection. My friends and family cannot completely understand why I am not afraid to die, especially when I joke about it. But they completely support me. They think I am courageous. But I am not. I just understand that life and death are both sides of the sides of the same coin. I learned that from not being afraid to live life.

    You dig?

    1. Sherrie

      Thank you, and I am humbled by your words. I do believe that some people need to step out of their comfort zones to become what they are meant to be, and yet, I still have an opposite view on others. Maybe it all depends on who we are and what we want. I see that you experienced an enriching life and I admire you.

      My life has not been filled with such wondrous experiences, but it has been filled with traumatic ones. I find comfort in simple aspects because of my personal preferences. I gauge success completely by happiness. I am still striving towards more in my life, and as far as your definition of the comfort zone, I do step a toe or two outside every once and a while. Maybe I am not ready and maybe I just prefer it this way.

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me and thank you for living your life to the fullest. Your words will not be forgotten.

  2. MamaIndigo

    Maybe your comfort zone can expand by expanding to other topics or genres when writing. Or possibly shake up your creativity by doing something opposite of what you normally do… I’m not sure you fully understand what it means to get out of your comfort zone.

    1. Sherrie

      I think, as individuals, we all have different degrees of the “comfort zone”. The definition of the “comfort zone” may vary a bit from person to person and region to region. Maybe some people do not see the need to change things. There are those who are quite happy with what they have and do not wish for more. I think these people are rare, but their desires to stay put are just as important as those who wish to forge ahead into an adventure.

  3. Don

    The comment from Ken is a powerful one and well worth remembering. There is much to learn from him about stepping up and going for it in order to enhance one’s life, not to mention it could be cut short and never get the chance. Having said that, after reading your articles since being here, I understand your perspective and see that you understand this topic is nowhere near a one size fits all. Your method of handling comfort zones is not Ken’s, nor is it mine. There is no one right way. We all labor with our own capabilities or lack of them. There are those who need to be pushed out of their zones and those who need to find their way more slowly, if ever. You are educated, have responsibilities, and have met the battles. If personal success lies within your zones, it is where you should be. And yes, it’s ok.

  4. Inez Neal

    What a wonderful true article.

  5. Francois

    I preach and practice stepping outside one’s comfort zone. I am grateful for your point of view, as it helps me better understand why mine is not always well received, and it turn will allow me to better meet my need for connection. To me, growth and learning are tightly coupled to that concept, and I found thats that transcendental life experiences lie on the other side of my fears.

    Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities
    ― Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence

  6. Asia Farrukh

    I am a mother of 3 tiny human beings
    Stay at home mother
    I am feeling happy
    But in eyed of society I am in my comfort zone….
    I should do the job ….

  7. Nana

    Found this article is a miracle for me! Finally, I think my thought was not alone. This world full of people who motivate us to succeed but don’t know what is “success” truly mean 🙁

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