Broadening your Circle of Comfort
Have you ever tried to broaden your circle of comfort? Did it feel risky? Scary? My very wise and thoughtful meditation teacher, Gayathri, recently spoke to our class about this idea of expanding your comfort zone. Somehow, this wording landed much better with me than the usual phrase of saying, ‘Take more risks.’ It felt more expansive and doable. It felt less scary.
I am a person who generally enjoyed a small comfort zone for most of my life. I like structure, predictability, and daily routines which sometimes led me to have a small comfort zone and in turn, led me to see many things as full of risk. I have had many transitions in my adult life. In these transition times, I am often faced with a decision of whether to expand or contract my comfort zone. My initial response is to contract my comfort zone and retreat into the people, places, and activities that feel familiar and comfortable during times of change.
As I have reached and gone beyond age 50, I started to notice this behavior pattern of contracting into a smaller world when faced with change or challenge. Of course, I could see that this did not always serve me well. When I expand my comfort zone, take small risks, try new things, meet new people, and go to new places I develop new skills and grow. Expanding my circle of what feels comfortable helps me become a stronger leader. I became more comfortable speaking in public, entering difficult conversations, managing challenging direct reports, and more. For me, I needed to take it slow, practice, and reflect in order to improve.
Consider these steps to broaden your circle of comfort.
- Define what is currently in your comfort zone.
- Think about what you want to add to your zone and why. Be intentional.
- Create small steps towards expanding your comfort zone. This key is to break down your goal into small reachable steps that manage your feeling of risk.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Reflect on your practice.
- Improve and expand your circle.
When we have a small comfort zone, many things feel scary and anxiety-provoking to us. When we expand our zone, and dip our toes into trying new things then we tend to approach change as an opportunity rather than a concern. More comfort and smaller risks can lead to growth. Give it a try!