The curse of the comfort zone

The curse of the comfort zoneAh, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?

Robert Browning

When I wear my favourite sweat pants, I feel like I’m encased in a fleecy womb: safe and cozy and warm. They’re so comfortable, I want to wear them all the time. Unfortunately, they make me look like a hobo. They sag in the bum and bag at the knees. This is not, as my children never fail to remind me, a good look.

Being comfortable is my default mode. During the cold months, you can find me curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book (wearing my hideous sweat pants, of course.)  But I’m starting to realize that, like many people with busy lives, I’ve become far too comfortable with comfort.

Motivational speaker T. Harv Eker declares that, “Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined. Comfort kills!”

As over-the-top as that sounds, T. Harv makes a good point. Studies have shown that the best way to improve a skill is to push ourselves to attempt something more difficult than we can easily handle — not so hard as to get discouraged, but just hard enough to challenge us. It’s in that stretching that we grow.

This is usually referred to as moving out of one’s comfort zone, or as expats call it, “everyday life.” It’s the antithesis of comfy sweats: an adrenaline-producing, heart-thumping, jump-off-a-cliff leap into the unknown. Definitely not comfortable, but that’s the point: You can’t move forward if you’re standing in place.

Where the magic happens

Graphic: Bill Burns,

Time to retire those sweat pants? Oh yeah. I want to be where the magic happens. How about you?


About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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5 Responses to The curse of the comfort zone

  1. Sine says:

    Maria, that is very true. I also am one who loves my comfort zone. Which is sitting at my computer writing, among much else. But whenever I turn down opportunities to see the world, I have to remind myself that I wouldn’t have anything to write about if I didn’t actually go see the world. So the other day I was looking forward to a whole day of writing and catching up when a friend in the spur of the moment invited me on an inner city Johannesburg tour to look at street art and graffiti. DEFINITELY not anywhere near my comfort zone! But the pictures I got to take were most amazing (and gave me new material for my blog) so it was the right thing to do.

    By the way, my favorite sweat pants (and those were the rare kind that actually looked good too!) got stolen – I think – out of my bag during our latest trip. Or I misplaced them, as my husband claims. Either way, they are gone, and I hate it. I spent entire weeks in those sweat pants!

    • Maria says:

      It’s so easy to stay cooped up with our computers — how fabulous that you ventured out into the unknown. I find that when I do manage to escape my comfort zone, I rarely regret it. And I’m looking forward to seeing those photos!

  2. Love it Maria! As a coach I often challenge clients to move outside of their comfort zones and from time to time have to remember to challenge myself to do the same. The questions I ask are:
    – what’s stopping you from moving outside your comfort zone?
    – how would it feel to (in the immortal words of Nike) Just Do It?
    – what will happen if you take the leap and what will happen if you don’t?
    You’re right though when you say that, (at least at first) as an expat, everyday life is outside the comfort zone, but we can get complacent and even when those everyday things become comfortable we often end up staying there instead of presenting ourselves with new challenges, which, as you rightly point out is “where the magic happens”

    • Maria says:

      I like your checklist, Evelyn. Whenever I decide to stay where I’m comfortable instead of trying something new, it’s usually out of habit. Maybe asking myself those three questions will change that. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: No Comfort Zone Weekly Challenge Updates (Week 17!) « Inside Out Cafe

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