Comfort Zones: To Put or Not To Push

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the comfort zone and how frequently i go in and out of it. The comfort zone is pitched as this bad place where in which you stay because you are afraid of venturing into the unknown. I generally agree with this premise but the problem is that the comfort zone is moving target. What is my “growth zone” today can be my “comfort zone” tomorrow. By definition if I am successful this will be the case because I will be able to master new experiences.

Thus, how do you keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone? When do you is the time to turn on the “uncertainty knob.” I don’t consider myself particularly risk averse or risk seeking. However, I do try to be a risk-optimizer (just made this term up). As a risk-optimizer I want to take as much risk as I can possibly tolerate at any given moment and adjust based on my current circumstances.

You might argue that I am a risk-averse person because I am intentionally thinking about how to avoid taking too much risk. However, the opposite argument can be made because I am intentionally thinking about how to take more risk (within my level of tolerance). Regardless of my risk profile I think that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone is not only necessary but fun. I feel that it’s this playful way of looking at life in which I get the chance “level up” every time I master my current level.

Having said so, I still struggle with the timing of all of this. When is the optimal time to push and when should I stay put and keep growing. I guess that there is not simple answer to this question. For now my workaround is that you should always keep pushing until it becomes overwhelming and you have to take a step back. In theory this will result in an exponential learning curve instead of a linear one in which you progressively build up on what you’ve learned.

In short in my experience the moments in which I am growing the most are the ones in which I feel that it is almost too much. I feel that I push outside of my comfort zone when I am uncomfortable. I will keep thinking about a better way to articulate/measure this but for now I will go back to finding ways of feeling uncomfortable.