“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” — Unknown
I was struck by the beauty and truth of this quote. From a professional standpoint, I understand the need for comfort zones, as they are mental boundaries we put in place to help us feel safe and secure. In my line of work as a transition strategist, the most frequent calls I get are from women who find themselves uncomfortable. She may be uncomfortable in her job, her career, her life, or her romantic relationship, but she has also reached a moment when the discomfort is greater than the unknown of what’s to come. The irony is this discomfort is strangely familiar. Therefore, she is drawn to the very thing that is making her unhappy. Oftentimes, the natural inclination is to stay within the uncomfortable comfort zone.
Together, as we explore a plan for moving forward, I watch as these women reflect on, and eventually embrace, the fact that everything they want is on the other side of discomfort; and the only way to get there is to move into the unknown.
The more we avoid addressing the tension, the conflict, the inner calling of our what our mind, body, soul, and heart want, the closer we get to the moment of such discomfort — a moment that inevitably convinces us to take action.
What happens if we continue to avoid taking steps to achieve what we want, in an attempt to stay safely, yet not always happily, in our precious comfort zone?
1. Communication with those in our professional and personal lives will suffer.
When we avoid an invitation to a new experience, a dream, a desire, or an unspoken passion, we are simultaneously trying to convince ourselves that what we want doesn’t matter and can’t or shouldn’t happen. The emotions resulting from this internal tension will often come through in the way we communicate with others in our lives. Whether with our partners, colleagues, friends, or family members, the conflict from this lack of alignment will affect our relationships. We reflect the frustration resulting from avoidance, even when we are unaware it is happening.
2. Our performance becomes lackluster.
Avoidance diminishes our edge. The excitement, energy, and mojo that come with embracing our desires will fade away if we ignore the call for action. For women, often the disconnection from our inner power happens so slowly that we aren’t even aware of it. Over time, our performance begins to suffer and we lose our edge.
3. Our health and wellness may become compromised.
Avoidance has countless effects on health and wellness, from anxiety and sleeplessness to physical pain and lack of energy. Ignoring what we know in our heart we are called to do is one of the greatest sources of physical and emotional suffering. Holding back and retreating from a calling is a significant cause of depression for women today.
4. We overlook opportunities to showcase our talent.
When we turn away from uncomfortable situations, we also often miss opportunities that present themselves. Avoidance causes us to close ourselves off, and therefore, overlook invitations for a new experience or challenge that could benefit us.
5. We lose sight of our abilities and commitment to serve.
Most of us know when we are avoiding, and often we become frustrated with ourselves for doing so. Unfortunately, when we feel disappointed with ourselves, we can lose sight of serving others. Our focus becomes staying where we are, rather than putting forth our best performance and being of service to our work, our relationships, and our purpose in the world.
It is so easy to remain comfortably in place, even if it isn’t what we really want. Stretching ourselves and expanding our comfort zones is an important part of personal development.
So the question is this: Where in your life are you avoiding the discomfort of what might be for the safety and comfort of what is?
Laura Campbell is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.