2002 Dolores G. Wix

If you want to reach your full potential, you're going to have to step out of your comfort zone. What's a comfort zone? In her article, "Getting Unstuck When You're in a Rut," personal and business coach (, Dr. Sharon House, defined comfort zone as "That cozy place we hang out at that's routine, predicable and safe." She further defined it as "a trusted beaten path for us to follow." So, what's so bad about that? Plenty!

Susan Pilgrim, Ph.D. says in her article "Leaving The Comfort Zone (AKA the Danger Zone)," "The comfort zone can become a danger zone. When we continue to function on a daily basis the same way we have over time, our thinking becomes rigid. We can see things from only one perspective and we forget there are many ways of looking at the same situation." She goes on to explain that thinking only one way causes our creativity to be inhibited. "Literal plasticized ruts in the brain are created. Parts of the brain eventually die when they're not used over time. Thinking and doing differently create new neural pathways that can keep the brain functioning at an optimal level," she says.

I'm sure you're aware that wanting to make changes in your life is easier said than done. This is especially true if your life is not what you want it to be. It is easier to think of yourself in the way you've always been. A good example is my husband, Dave. Dave has 15 years of commercial insurance experience and has worked in both the agency side and company side. He doesn't particularly like it, though.

As I have taken steps to finally do the work I've always wanted, I've asked Dave what kind of work he would do if he could do anything he wanted. Each time I've asked Dave this question, I've gotten different answers: historical writing, photography, raise exotic birds. Not once has he answered commercial insurance. When I asked him why he won't start doing what he would rather do, he'd say, "I know insurance!" And I'd say, "So what? You can learn something else." But Dave was in his comfort zone.

Dr. Sharon House continues in her article quoted earlier, "Often what we call procrastination, a lack of motivation or boredom is really just being trapped in the shell of our own comfort zone. Like a turtle, we pull inside and stop moving. Stop growing. Stop seeking. We rationalize our position with excuses and justifications and put a limit on it. We lock it up with a 'guarantee' that consists of two extremely powerful words: 'I can't.'

"We paint ourselves into a corner with our fears and inhibitions. We resist change. We avoid risk. Our senses dull. We may feel as if we are suffocating. We notice the dull ache of emptiness. We feel paralyzed by our fears, real or imagined! Pretty soon, living inside the safety and comfort of our shell, devoid of challenge or change, becomes a habit just like brushing our teeth in the morning or tying our shoes. Easy, effortless, familiar! We've retired from the excitement and challenge that purposeful living offers. Our comfort zone has become our liability zone!"

If you recognize that you are in your comfort zone and you want to get out of it, how do you do that?

First, start slowly. Start by making changes in your everyday life activities.

    *Drive to and from work a different way.
    *Rearrange your furniture
    *Change your hairstyle
    *Update your wardrobe
    *Learn a foreign language

Next, if you want to make bigger changes like a career or move to another state/country, use visualization techniques. See yourself doing what you want and being where you want. What you think about you bring about.

Lastly, recognize that fear is the greatest threat to us, according to Brian Tracy. In his book, "Maximum Achievement" he states that before age six we are all programmed with the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. "These fears usually set the upper and lower limits of your comfort zone. Because of them, you do enough not to be criticized or rejected on the low side, and you stay well within your limits so you can avoid risk or failure on the high side. Once you've slipped into your comfort zone, you stay there, attempting to avoid any feeling of fear or anxiety. Your fears hold you back from most of what is possible for you."

Mr. Tracy goes on to say that the opposite of fear is love, beginning with self-love, or self-esteem, and that is the way out. "There is an inverse or opposite relationship between self-esteem and fears of all kinds. The more you like yourself, the less you fear failure and rejection. The more you like yourself, the more willing you are to reach out and take the risks that will lead you on to success and happiness. The more you like yourself, the more willing you are to take the actions that propel you out of your comfort zone and toward the achievement of your real goals and desires."

To begin liking yourself or increasing your self- esteem, Mr. Tracy suggests repeating, "I like myself" (or "I love myself") 50 to 100 times a day until these words penetrate your subconscious. I have used this technique for many years and it works! If you use it consistently, you will quickly see and feel differently about yourself and notice an improvement in your relationship with others.

I'm very happy to say that Dave has stepped out of his comfort zone and has enrolled in the Travel Writing Course of the American Writers & Artists Institute. If you're interested in their travel writing and other writing courses, their web site address is:

Dolores G. Wix is the publisher of the Potential Rose Newsletter, which offers advice, articles and resources on reaching your full potential. Subscribe at or send email to:

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