Stay in your Comfort Zone

One of the most helpful things you can learn when you are pushing forward with powerful goals is how to recognise where you are in that area between learning and consolidating that we call the comfort zone.

comfort zone mihaly csikszentmihalyi

stay in your comfort zone

 

If you can learn to surf that wave, you maximise the speed of your progress and you minimise the levels of stress. So its a good thing to learn if you want results fast!

Firstly lets look at how it feels when you’re in flow. Flow is when your level of expertise perfectly matches the challenge of the task. Its when you do things almost automatically, you don’t have to think too hard about it, your whole system just knows what to do and gets on with it. If you’re an experienced driver you will be in flow much of the time. You don’t have to think about turning the wheel, you just think about where you want to be. When you are in flow time seems to slow down so your reactions become effortless, there’s no rush or panic, just a sense of calm focus.

Now, try to remember when you first started learning to drive. Remember how unfamiliar everything felt. There were so many things to think about. So many lights, levers, pedals and buttons and you wondered how you were ever going to master it. Things seemed to happen very quickly and you had to make so many decisions all at once and everything seemed disjointed and clumsy. You had to consciously think where your hands and feet were and what they were doing and panic was never far away! This is the learning zone.

Now imagine that your driving instructor took you out on Sheikh Zayed Road at rush hour. Now you have all the other drivers to think about as well, people are coming at you from all directions, beeping their horns, narrowly missing you, making rude gestures, and on top of that your instructor is shouting at you as well. Suddenly your mind goes blank, your hands start sweating, your heart is beating out of your chest, you have no idea what to do next and you freeze completely. This is the burn out zone.

comfort zone sheikh zayed road

comfort zone traffic

 

Now imagine the next lesson. The instructor takes you round the back roads of a half empty industrial estate on a Friday (weekend) morning. He makes you go round and round and round, practising turning, reversing, stopping, starting, speeding up, slowing down and there’s no other traffic on the road and everything is calm. Suddenly all of those complicated actions start to make sense and the more often you do them the less you have to actually think about them. This is the practice zone where you consolidate what you’ve learned until it becomes a part of you.

Now imagine the instructor tells you to do this day after day and tells you never to go on the busy roads and only to drive when there’s no one else out. You’ve practiced everything a million times and you never seem to be getting anywhere. Suddenly you start to make silly mistakes. You lose concentration. You are bored to tears and you can’t remember why you ever wanted to learn to drive in the first place. You can never go anywhere because you might come across other traffic and that is terrifying to you. All of your learning is now useless and pretty soon you give up. But if anyone suggests you try something a bit more challenging, fear comes up and you remember the burn out zone and stay exactly where you are. This is the rust out zone.

Both the rust out zone and the burn out zone are places you really don’t want to spend much time. If you are pushing ahead fast and really stretching yourself you may want to foray out into the burn out zone, but don’t stay too long and try to go with someone who has been there before so you can hang on to them!  Likewise, if you are tired and stressed you may want to rest for a little while in the rust out zone. But don’t get comfortable there or you’ll be stuck forever.

Learn to recognise the signs that you’re in these zones and you can avoid their perils and achieve incredible things in less time and with less stress than you ever thought possible. Your really can succeed in the comfort zone. In fact the comfort zone is the ONLY sustainable place to succeed!

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