A feeling of self-fulfillment is a result of knowing that you’re living at your best, living life near the limits of your capabilities. Many of us, however, are not challenging ourselves sufficiently on a daily, weekly or periodic basis to truly feel self-fulfilled. The main obstacle is the desire to be comfortable – and who doesn’t want to be comfortable?
The truth is – We only grow when we live beyond our comfort zone.
Did you know that organisms that aren’t stressed enough early in life don’t thrive as well? It’s true. For example, the temperature variations that bird and reptile eggs are subjected to actually increase the amount of vigor in the newly hatched animals. If an egg is incubated at a very precise temperature, the resulting hatchling is weak.
In many ways, we are similar to that hatchling. A lack of challenge and stimulation decreases our ability to deal with the demands of the world. Our capabilities actually decrease. Obviously, this is a movement in the wrong direction if we really want a feeling of self-fulfillment.
Expanding one’s comfort zone can be scary or exciting, depending on your perspective. But regardless, it’s at least a little uncomfortable. This is how we grow as human beings.
The key is to start slowly and begin to expand your horizons. Soon it will feel normal. A single strong step in the right direction is all that’s needed, then another. You’ll be shocked, and thrilled at the results. Then it’s time to move a little further – because even baby steps forward are still steps forward.
Scenario: From Shyness to Confident Public Speaker
Perhaps you can identify with a desire to become comfortable with public speaking, however you’re naturally shy. If you’re really shy, you most likely aren’t overly social. You may even have difficulty looking a stranger in the eye.
Naturally, your inclination will be to avoid other people and the discomfort being around those other people brings. But human beings are social animals. We have a basic need for companionship and other human interaction. How self-fulfilled are you likely to be if you can’t even interact comfortably with other people?
You could decide to join a public speaking club and schedule three speeches each week, but that will most likely be way too difficult – too much too soon, and so much more than you are comfortable with that you may quit before you ever begin.
Instead, try this strategy: focus on getting to know your neighbors and asking strangers for direction. If you do this with sufficient regularity, you’ll eventually feel comfortable with these tasks. You can then extend beyond that and start having meaningful conversations with strangers – perhaps by working on behalf of a charitable organization or a cause that interests you.
Continuing to expand your interactions on behalf of a cause you support can bring you to a place where you’re willing to speak to others individually about the organization, then to pairs of people, and small groups. Eventually, you could become a comfortable, relaxed public speaker.
By expanding your comfort zone, you provide yourself with more options. More options lead to a life with far more variety. When you feel like you have options, you can realize fulfillment.
How to Expand Your Comfort Zone
Try this easy process:
- Choose something from your own life that’s limiting you. Maybe it’s communicating with others. Maybe you’d like to be a musician, but you’re afraid to perform. Maybe you want to become a writer but you’re too nervous about being judged.
- Take one small step. Now think about one small, relatively easy step you could take towards realizing that new activity. It can’t be completely without discomfort or it won’t increase your comfort zone. Perform this activity again and again until you feel that you can take the next step.
- Pick something else. Repeat step 2, perhaps with a slightly larger step.
- Rinse and repeat.
It really is that simple.
Increasing your comfort zone can be uncomfortable and challenging, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it! The key is to move forward at a pace you can manage, but keep moving, because the end result will ultimately be worth it.
You’ll be so happy where you end up outside of your former comfort zone, and loving life!