They say the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. I agree. But, it’s a little more complex than this because something else also happens outside of your comfort zone: panic.
Panic is a state of terror and uncontrollable anxiety. What would put you in that state? For me, it would be jumping out of an aeroplane because I’m petrified of open heights. Or holding a tarantula. No thank you!
Some people overcome their fears by pushing themselves far out of their comfort zone. Even in a state of panic, they’ll jump from that plane. For quick fix, physical experiences this may be appropriate.
But this rarely works in daily life
What makes us uncomfortable in daily life isn’t often something we can physically push ourselves into for a few minutes and be done with. Instead, we’re likely to experience prolonged, difficult change that requires a more complex response from us.
We may choose these changes like starting our own business or ending a relationship. Or, they may be thrust upon us like an unexpected financial problem or being asked to do a difficult piece of work. Any of these things can send us into panic.
Panic is not productive
There’s a part of our brain that is thoughtful and considered. It creates plans and solutions. It helps us during life’s challenges and facilitates our growth.
When we panic, this part of the brain stops working. You’ll notice this when you’re highly stressed. You struggle to speak clearly and you literally can’t think. Someone could ask you your address and you’d need a minute to think about the answer! When life’s challenges hit, this isn’t a helpful state to be in.
Where we want to be is a zone between comfort and panic: the growth zone. Here, we are pushed, challenged and we may sweat a little but, we can still function well mentally and physically.
To get in this zone, we first need to become self-aware about our unique, personal make up of zones at any given time.
Understand your zones
1. Draw a circle. Inside here write everything you’re comfortable with. E.g. socialising, doing your job, skiing, managing your money, public speaking.
2. Next, draw a ring around the comfort zone. In here is your growth zone. Write the things you’d like to do but know they push you a little. E.g. going for a promotion, seeking a new relationship, going back to university, joining a gym.
3. Outside the growth ring is your panic zone. Write here all the things that make you panic. E.g. rock climbing, public speaking, running out of money, having children, asking someone on a date.
Now replace your panic with growth
If there’s something in your panic zone that you want to achieve or it’s been thrust upon you and you have to deal with it, there’s a couple of things we can do.
1. Combine comfort with panic to create growth
If public speaking makes you panic but socialising is comfortable to you, how about doing a small talk for those you socialise with?
If you’re comfortable at the gym but panic on a first date, could you go for a work out together?
2. Break down panic into incremental growth
If you’re struggling financially, don’t overwhelm yourself with the big picture. Just start by planning next week’s budget.
If you’re scared of going from an accounting career to graphic design, go on some courses first.
Get creative, this is the art of getting out of your comfort zone. And the aim is to grow not panic.
You’ll surprise yourself one day
Through reaching for growth, you will achieve much more than when stuck in a state of panic.
Because you managed your growth and didn’t let panic get the best of you, you’ll look back and realise that things that once made you panic, are now in your comfort zone.
The stage you were once afraid to stand on is now your favourite place. That person you were scared to talk to is now you best friend. What an achievement!
So, get creative. Create your growth.
About the author: To find out more about Pinky Jangra, please click here.