We all have a comfort zone, a stretch zone and a panic zone.
The comfort zone is, well, comfortable. It is our day-to-day routine, the things we are both competent and confident doing, where we can operate on auto-pilot with no risks, and little learning. We all need time there – for calm and headspace, to recover, to reflect and for stability. Sometimes in our lives we need to spend more time there than at others. However, nice as it is, if we spend all of our time there, life can get a bit dull and monotonous. There is no learning, nothing new. A life spent there would be a life ‘half-lived’.
The stretch zone is the area where we are trying new things, doing things differently, learning and relearning. It is a bit uncomfortable. It might feel very uncomfortable at times. There is more risk and uncertainty, we are not so ‘in control’. But it is also where we find enjoyment, energy, a sense of achievement and fulfilment. Our comfort zone expands as what was a stretch activity becomes a comfort one - and so we grow. The more we enter the stretch zone and experience that, the easier it is to do so again – we build our resilience and confidence that we will be okay. So a positive first step if we are feeling a bit stuck (or just short of time) is to plan frequent small-scale activities that take us out of our comfort zone, in a safe, risk-free environment. This could be as simple as taking a different route to work; changing what we eat for lunch; going to a new bar/café; listening to a different radio station. We will feel more alive as a result.
The panic zone is a stretch too far. We need to keep out of it if we can, or get out of there as soon as possible if we are thrown into it or can’t avoid it. Step back. Ask for help if necessary. Break the challenge down into smaller stages and tackle just one of those first. In the panic zone, all of our energy is spent on managing or controlling fear or anxiety, so no learning can take place. It is not a healthy place to be. Get back to your comfort zone for a while to regroup and reflect if necessary, then start again with some gentle stretching. Enjoy!
Our comfort, stretch and panic zones are unique to us all and change over time. If you would like some help to live your best life, please do get on touch. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to call me on 07708 034395 or to email me at email@example.com. I offer an initial no-obligation, no-cost discovery session.