You occupy one of three zones, the comfort zone, the learning zone and the panic zone. Which zone is ruled by fear?
In this article I’ll talk about where your dreams lie and where fear wins. Your experiences can fall into one of three zones. Progress comes with experiences in the learning zone, but you also need time in the comfort zone. You want to avoid the panic zone.
So, what are these zones?
You spend most of our time in the comfort zone. Why? Because it’s where you’re most comfortable. It’s known territory and you’re not stressed. Here’s some examples.
Meeting up good with friends.
Going to the same place for your holidays.
The comfort zone comes with both positives and negatives.
It’s where you feel confident.
It’s existing, not living.
It can be boring.
It contains nothing new.
The comfort zone can be driven by fear. You’re scared to leave it because you’re afraid to fail.
What if I apply for that senior position and get rejected?
What if I go to that exotic country and get ill?.
However if you never leave the comfort zone, you’ll never progress.
It’s in the learning zone that your dreams live. Experiences in this area become part of your life and stretch your comfort zone.
The size of your comfort zone changes with new experiences and fulfilled dreams.
Here’s some examples (these will vary a lot by individual):
Setting up your own company.
Becoming the leader of a team at work.
Learning how to surf.
Fulfilling your dreams.
Facing your fears.
Improving your self-confidence.
You’re exposed to the judgement of others.
Remember that every person has been through a different life journey. Something that’s in one person’s comfort zone may be in another person’s learning zone. Some things that may be easy for another may be terrifying for you.
What scares you, but others find easy? What’s in your panic zone?
The panic zone is where the challenge feels greater than you’re able to handle. In this zone you’ll feel overwhelmed.
Being in this zone for too long can lead to health issues and burnout. It’s also no fun!
Let’s see some examples (again, they vary by individual)
Doing a highly technical task at work if you don’t have the skills or training.
Presenting to hundreds of people if you’ve never really done public speaking before.
Climbing Mont Blanc if you’re unfit.
It’s not just you that’ll suffer in the panic zone. You’re at the risk of making bad decisions and delivering things of low quality. It can also impact your personal relationships.
You’re bound to be in the panic zone sometimes. It’s important to identify when you’re in it and find ways out.
I love nature and hiking, and moving to Scotland has been a great opportunity to spend time in the mountains. However we all have our limits, myself included.
My partner’s an experienced hiker, and it turns that when it comes to hiking, his comfort zone is somewhat different to mine.
22 km, 400 m elevation. Too long for me!
10 km, 900 m elevation. Too high for me!
I made it, I had no choice. For both these trips, I stopped enjoying myself, the physical effort was too much and I entered the panic zone.
13 km, 600 m elevation. A challenge but fun.
For trip 3 I enjoyed the whole journey. It was tough at times, but the transition was between the comfort and learning zone, not the panic zone. The consequence, my comfort zone has been extended, the next trip will be for longer and higher.
Your goals lie in the learning zone, there’s nothing new in the comfort zone. It’s however important to not bite off more than you can chew. If you get too ambitious to quickly you can fall into the panic zone.
The main point is to enjoy the whole journey towards your dream. Reaching your goal is the icing on the cake.
When you start something new, it’s important to keep an eye on stress, adrenaline and fear. Watch your emotions, too many panics and too many failures will dent your self-confidence.
A coach or mentor can help provide you with an objective view and some much needed encouragement. A good coach will never settle for your mediocrity. They’ll push you into the learning zone and help you to achieve your dreams faster.