The comfort zone is defined as “a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.” The key words for me here are “safe” and “without stress.” Stress is seen as a dirty word, but healthy stress can actually be a catalyst for growth. When was the last time you did something you were really proud of inside of your comfort zone? Putting yourself out there does not feel safe and comfortable, you are vulnerable to stress, but it is how you reap the biggest rewards.
Risks are growing experiences
Failure can be daunting. Even if we make mistakes, we can still gain experiences that we can learn from. I read in another blog that “fail” can be re-framed as “first attempt in learning.” We often settle for less than because we are scared of the possibility of failure. We actually perform at our peak when we are taking a risk. Experiences where we have taken a risk build onto our skills and self-knowledge. It is important to embrace change and unfamiliarity. Was it really a failure if there was something to be learned from it?
There is a science behind the “comfort zone”
Back in 1908, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson described that a state of comfort created a steady level of performance. Once we reach a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal, “optimal anxiety,” we reach maximum performance. Although healthy stress can push us to be more productive, too much stress will cause a sharp performance drop. All in all, when you challenge yourself, there can be amazing results.
I love certainty and consistency, but my love for these two things were starting to hold me back from growing and trying new things – both in my personal and professional life. One of my biggest accomplishments this semester was being elected Vice President of my PRSSA Chapter. It was scary and out of my comfort zone, but I can’t wait for all the things I’ll learn, and experiences I’ll gain, from embracing this challenge.
By Emma Vandermark, Junior Account Executive, KCCC