Don’t Stay in the Comfort Zone

Inspired by my daughter, Lexi.

She came to me with a revelation. “I have to move out, but I don’t like the change. I mean, I know I need to do it, but I don’t want it.”

This comes from my daughter, the extrovert.

I get it and I’m feeling a little melancholy about my daughter moving out. She’s been attending college locally. Unfortunately, she’ll have to commute to the Ocala campus four days a week to finish her degree. It doesn’t make sense for her to live at home anymore. Change begets fear.

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

The Comfort zone does not mean you’re happy or comfortable in this zone. What you feel is the security in knowing what to expect. How often in our lives do we not make a change because it’s comfortable?

When I was nearing the end of my masters degree program. I felt a growing sense of relief, but I also didn’t want the experience to end. It would mean that I would have to put myself and my writing out there. Become vulnerable? The fear set in. I broke out in a cold sweat whenever I thought about showing my work to others. I was scared to hear what they thought of it.

One of my last classes entailed putting together what was called a “cornerstone project.” It is what we had been working towards from the beginning of the program. We would create a mock query and have the first third of our manuscript completed. We did it over the course of ten weeks.

It may sound like a decent amount of time, but when writing against a deadline it can be overwhelming. There was a lot of inner crying going on and my own voice of negativity shouting that my writing wasn’t good enough and that I wasn’t ever going to be good enough. I pushed through it and continued to write.

The other hurdle of fear came when I had to put those words in front of my peers and professor to see. Those people would be reading my work and providing feedback. Feedback can be hard to swallow, but I listened and became better, soon the fear of thinking about how they felt about my work disappeared and then I embraced it.

The Comfort Zone Model

It’s a natural progression that occurs when we begin to step out of our comfort zone. The concept of the Comfort, Stretch, Panic model from Karl Rhonke is based on the Yerkes-Dodson Law. The law states that when moderate pressure is applied an individual reaches peak performance.

Karl Rhonke’s Comfort, Stretch and Panic Zone Model

When you break down my experience, you can see

1. I took comfort in the writing process, but not sharing it with others.

2. When instructed that I needed to share my writing with others, fear set in.

3. Once I shared my work with my peers, I received feedback. Taking and applying their feedback helped me learn what changes I needed to make to improve my writing.

4. I shared my work with others and became a better writer. My confidence bloomed and I experienced growth in my writing abilities.


A quote about stepping out of your comfort zone “Try. Otherwise, you’ll never know.”

What comfort zone do you know you need to get out of?

What steps are you going to take to get through the fear/panic zone? When I say steps, they can be baby steps.

Examine your fears. Combat those fears with, “but what if…” and realize the outcome won’t be as bad as you make it out to be in your head.

Have faith in yourself and imagine how you will feel once you enter the growth zone.

One response to “Don’t Stay in the Comfort Zone”

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