We all have comfort zones: it is like the comfy couch we lie on when life feels too much. Comfort zones serve us, as they are the visible part of a neuronal system that creates highways and automatisms to save energy and attention. If we had to think about the walking process each time we walk, we wouldn’t have any energy left to talk, or think, or do anything. So comfort zones are originally very useful, until they are not anymore.
The Appealing Comfort Zone
Comfort zone is like a mermaid and her appealing song that will let you drawn in your own procrastination. It is a land of rare actions, fears and sporadic excitement. A bit like watching television actually. It helps after a hard day at work or in time of sickness but when you are healthy and active, comfort zone can be invisible pitfalls that hold you back.
When you stay too long in the comfort zone, you might jump right into the panic zone: it is the case when you procrastinated too long and your deadline is yesterday; or when you avoid taking a decision and life decided for you and led you in a difficult situation.
Someone in a comfort zone will use language like “I’ll try”, “maybe”, “why not”. Words are as mellow as their commitment. It does not mean it is bad; it just expresses loudly how unwilling they are to be active.
The Alarming Panic Zone
The panic zone is the place of disbelief and blocking fears. It is also the place of exhaustion where you stretch yourself too thin, where you control everyone’s life, where you resist a situation until it becomes unbearable. The panic zone is the end of the road for people who are trying to please everyone with no return; it is the kingdom of frustration where broken expectations land; it is the comfort zone of perfectionist who never stops trying to reach perfection without never achieving it.
The panic zone’s usefulness is to give the alarm that you are going too far. It is like the red gauge on your dashboard, it helps you know that you are out of resources and you might as well stop.
The typical language is sigh, “I don’t know”, “I can’t”, no language because people are too busy running like headless hen.
The Excitement of the Change Zone
To be true, we don’t really feel alive in neither the comfort nor the panic zone. The true excitement exists only when we are in the change zone. Why? It is the place of discovery, learning, and exploration. Remember how you were so passionate and mesmerized when you discovered that bees pollinate flowers at age 6. The excitement of getting something, of understanding is unique; it is what pushes us to learn more.
The confusion is that excitement and fear are the same, only the breathing changes (fear blocks and excitement expresses). It is normal that we get so attached to fear; it vibrates at the same length that excitement..
When you are in your comfort zone, the easy way to reach the Change zone is by taking calculated risks: you might want to change job, to try a new restaurant, to reach out to a new or old friend, etc. When you tap into that excitement, you open your mind and learn about yourself or your environment.
When you are in your panic zone, start being aware of the toll it has on your energy, motivation and aptitude. Be aware and seek balance. Reconnect to your inner sensor to do what feels good for you, which is exploring, learning and doing something interesting for you. Sometimes learning can be that it is best for everyone to leave people driving their own life instead of seeking attention by micro-managing everything. You will learn then that life can be nice, lighter and even fun.
How to Be in The Change Zone?
To synthesize, being in the change zone is taking a step forward when you are in your comfort zone, and a step back when you are in your panic zone. The excitement of the change zone is like reconnecting with your inner child, with spontaneity and wonder. It provides a lot of energy at nearly no cost, it broadens your world and usual puts a smile on your face despite the eventual butterfly in your stomach.
Leadership & Change Coach
Author of The Expat Method, Mastering Personal and Organizational Change