When I started working in IT, I worked for a company for four years. I started out at that company with average pay for my skill level, but as I learned more and became better at what I did, I thought I should get paid more. The only way to increase my salary by more than the standard raise each year was to go find a job at another company. I was afraid of leaving. I was comfortable where I was. Was it worth risking my ok salary to go to a company that was offering me more? I had friends where I worked, and I didn’t know anyone at the next place. What if I failed? Would it be worth getting outside my comfort zone?
We Do What’s Easiest
It’s easiest to stay where we are. This is the same thinking we have with all areas of our lives, whether that be with our financial situation or our overall health. We sit on the couch and watch TV because that’s an easy thing to do. We don’t save our money or try to get rid of our debt, because spending our money and having fun is what’s easiest for us. People have a fear of missing out if they save their money. It’s less stressful when we are in our comfort zone. It’s what’s familiar to us, and we at least perceive to be in control. We stay in our comfort zone even if we don’t like the situation that we are in!
Optimal Performance Zone
When we stay in our comfort zone, we survive, but we do not grow. The only way to grow in the areas of our life is to get out of our comfort zone and get into the “optimal performance zone”. Picture a target. The bullseye is the comfort zone. As you go further out from the bullseye, you are in the optimal zone.
If you keep going out, you get into the danger zone, and that’s too far. That’s too risky. The further out from the comfort zone you go, the more stress and anxiety you have. Some stress can be good for you; this is how you grow. A little anxiety increases your performance. For example, if you are nervous because of a job interview, you might take some additional time to research additional interviewing techniques, which can cause you to interview better. Too much anxiety all the time causes your performance to deteriorate, and too much stress all the time causes you to revert to a level that is comfortable for you.
Get Off the Couch
Think about your health for a bit. In order to increase your overall health, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Get off the couch and exercise and learn how to eat healthy. Go for a quarter-mile walk if you can’t do a mile. Do something! Staying in your comfort zone holds you back. For your finances, get out of your comfort zone, too, which for most people would mean to stop spending your money and start saving and paying down your debt. Learn how to invest. Learn how to cook at home to decrease your restaurant bill or learn some new skills to increase your income.
Getting out of your comfort zone isn’t always fun or easy. Having a good diet and exercise routine takes work and results are not instant. Building wealth doesn’t happen overnight, either. It starts with doing things that are not comfortable for you. Too many people find comfort in spending money because paying off debt takes work.
Becoming Accustomed to Our Bad Situation
When we stay in our comfort zone for too long, we eventually get lazy. It gets harder for us to get out of our comfort zone because we get so accustomed to it. Eventually, something happens that causes us to realize that we aren’t in control of our actions as much as we thought we were. It’s like an addiction—we think we are in control, but the addiction is controlling us. After sitting on the couch, watching TV, and eating potato chips for a while, our bodies become accustomed or even addicted to the situation, and it becomes harder for us to get up and exercise. After being in debt and realizing we have a shopping addiction, it’s hard to break the addiction. In some cases, you must seek help—get with a financial coach or find an accountability partner who can help you.
We’re afraid of failing so we never change, and that means for most people they never get ahead. It ended up being worth the switch to the next company I worked for. I worked for that company for almost 12 years. I worked on some cool projects, made good money, met some great people, and had fun there. Getting out of my comfort zone opened up opportunities for me. It put me in a position to excel that maybe I wouldn’t have been in if I stayed at the first company. Get out of your comfort zone, and you can excel, too!