Pushing the Comfort Zone Envelope: Challenge your way to personal success

Pushing the Envelope: Challenging Your Comfort Zone for Greater Personal Success

In order to grow, we must view a comfort zone as a way station, rather than a destination.

Remaining in your comfort zone is somewhat like standing on that one stepping stone just because it feels good, but it can also bring progress to a halt. It limits your exposure to the stimulus that can inspire and feed creativity. Success means learning how to move through the intimidating spaces separating plateaus of achievement. A former instructor of mine, Dr. Bradford Keeney, used to speak of this space as a form of “lived tension”. Back then I had a hard time understanding the concept until I took a step back and allowed myself to stop defining “tension” as a bad thing and consider it as an experiential processor “a series of moments in time” not good nor bad. The amount of time a person chooses to stay in it is both optional and fluid. Taking daily actions with one or more of the following suggestions may help push your horizons far beyond their present positions, when and if you are of a mind too.

Increasing Knowledge

How we view the world is determined only by what we have learned over a lifetime. All of our senses are enriched by the information we have absorbed. Some say that the night skies are more beautiful when we can point out stars by name. Plants become more interesting when we learn what the Romans called them or the unique properties they hold. Strangers evolve into fascinating representatives of exotic cultures when we learn their language or open ourselves up to our differences not as comparisons but as opportunities. Interests blossom into careers when we stop trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” and start wanting to make a difference in the work we do.  When you make a study and seek to make engaged self-education a daily habit, the entire world unfolds before you. No one ever succeded at work by staying within the boundaries of a comfort zone

Leaving the Beaten PathMentor Moment image of growing green native strawberries

The act of doing anything in an unfamiliar manner reaches up into the brain and moves things around. Old concepts are juggled, and new concepts are formed. The results prompt the mind to look at everything from a different angle. New ideas form. By not being able to do things reflexively, the brain awakens to a full state of alertness. What would usually go unnoticed is noticed and becomes lodged in memory. Try something new each day: Take the back door, eat peas with a knife, brush your teeth left-handed — anything to shake up your senses. It worked for me, when I taught at a local University, I was trying to reach students differently and noticed some growing research that indicated traditional seating could in fact limit learning, so I set out to explore other ways that would open them up. After the word “standing” popped out at me a few times, I took the hint. I had all the chairs removed and thought the whole class, with all of us standing up. What did I learn? When a student learns, then move, they smile, they gesture. The more focused they became on what I was sharing, the less it was a lecture to be memorized in between texts and facebook posts and the more it became an experience.

Service to Others

Donating your time and energies to a worthwhile cause can be as lucrative as a college degree. The knowledge gained from charitable efforts can be applied to just about any vocation. Learning how to assist others in a variety of circumstances easily translates into marketable skills. Showing a potential employer a resume that documents you as an enthusiastic and engaged volunteer in your chosen field increases your chances of getting hired. Regularly giving volunteer service helps you live knowing that you are helping to make the world better.  

Physical Well-being

Just as the above suggestions require daily attention, so does the act of maintaining good health. Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis lifts the spirits and sharpens the mind. All of the body’s processes are benefited. Proper circulation and respiration help to keep the organs functioning at peak levels. A few minutes a day is all that is needed to optimize your physique and keep you ready for life’s surprises.

Time and Space

You can envision yourself on Earth in the early part of the 21st century. You can also envision yourself in a boundless universe consisting of billions of planets spinning through immeasurable time. Your imagination is the device that limits or expands your concepts of eternity and infinity. Against such fathomless reaches, why not supersize your dreams? If you are going to push the envelope, push it in a big way. Consider your path and get started. Leave the comfort, at least for a time, and head into the empty spaces where there is ample room to build your dreams.


“Realizing goals is, by design, a challenge. Everything needs to be stretched in order to reach them. Flex the brain to increase intelligence. Work the body to gain the required strength to stay the course. Tighten the spirit to acquire the needed fortitude. Use your mind to enforce daily actions until your body accepts them as habits. Build each day on the back of the preceding day until your foundation is so strong that stopping is no longer a temptation. Learning to live outside your comfort zone will lead you to achievements, creating “greater satisfaction, career advancement, and income growth” (WGU).

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