Ah Synchronicity! Of late I have had a number of people I work with dealing with the fear of leaving their comfort zone and reaching for their dreams. Upon reflection, it seems to me that all of life is leaving one comfort zone for newer and stranger adventures. It starts with that quintessential leaving of our first comfort zone: the womb.
Then, as if that weren’t enough; the umbilical is cut, the butt spanked – and it hardly ever seems to slow down from there. Learning to crawl takes us away from the protection of loving arms, being “abandoned” at the schoolyard on our first day of school, asking someone out, the first kiss, college, etc.etc., are all markers of new and (at first) uncomfortable realities. That there is a comfort zone to stay in, is at best: an illusion. At its worst it is an anchor – and the great ship in port; (though safe) never sails.
Psychology tells us that every change is a death of sorts, even the positive changes bring stress and loss (talk to most lottery winners if you doubt that.) To compensate, many of us create routines in our existence that give us a sense of timeless security – then life happens and we get divorced, lose a job, or find ourselves existentially dyspeptic as time strips away the illusion of our immortality. (I find it compelling that nothing seems to make someone go for their dreams more than a terminal diagnosis.) And since none of us get out of life alive – live it fully (as far as we know – there are no do-overs.) And as someone once said: “I never met anyone who, on their death bed, regretted not spending more time at the office.”
If we don’t step outside of our comfort zone – we are not growing. Staying in one place is losing ground.
As to our fear of failure…ask any wildly successful person and they will tell you their road to success was a road of many failures along the way. The only way to overcome the fear of failure is to fail often – and learn from those failures. Feel your fear and do it anyway.
Leaving our comfort zone has a beneficial side effect: keeping the mind active learning new things, is one of the best ways to slow cognitive decline and dementia. It is what moves us forward as individuals and as a civilization. It is the elixir of a life well lived.