Can you really grow in your comfort zone?

I stumbled across this image some time back and it made me wonder what my comfort was and how much it has changed. 

I basically don’t use any other social media other than LinkedIn (and joining LinkedIn also was scary to me in the beginning). So my comfort zone was basically going to school, coming back home and chilling at my place. There was no growth there, obviously. 

So let’s take a minute now and think if we really can grow in the comfort zone, and if you still are in your comfort zone, what is it? How is it not letting you grow? To me personally, as I was an introvert growing up, I always refrained from trying anything – I used to go to school, come back home and repeat. See – there is no room I gave myself to grow. I was subconsciously keeping myself for doing anything I definitely was capable of. 

Now, let’s talk a little bit about the comfort zone itself and what it actually is? The phrase ‘comfort zone’ was coined by management thinker Judith Bardwick in her 1991 work Danger in the Comfort Zone. A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person, and they are at ease, and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. 

And all of us know that’s not how life usually is. So let’s focus a little bit on this diagram here, which shows 4 zones, namely the comfort zone, the fear zone, the learning zone and the growth zone. 

So when leaving the comfort zone, fear doesn’t necessarily equate to being in the panic zone. As the below diagram shows, fear can be a necessary step in order to go to the learning and growth zones: 

Now, comes the most important point, how would you go from comfort zone to the fear zone? The answer is : Courage. 

In fact Courage comes first. Courage is the secret ingredient which lets you act despite your fears. Courage gives you the ability to take the first step despite the fear. Courage helps you overcome the fear of rejection, fear of failure and attempt things that you have not tried before. Confidence is the outcome. It takes courage to step from the comfort zone into the fear zone. It’s very normal to be anxious while doing so, yet it would be so rewarding when you enter the learning zone, this is where you learn skills, deal with new challenges, and gain the confidence as a result of those activities. 

After a learning period, a new comfort zone is created, or your own comfort zone is extended. And when you see yourself setting new goals for yourself, celebrating something (even a small achievement of yourself), you are in your growth zone. There can also be some behavioral changes you feel along the way and it’s important to be self-aware of how far you’ve come 🙂

But when I pushed myself, I came across so many awesome people, amazing experiences, got on work on (and still working on) some amazing projects. 

And I find this diagram extremely accurate. I have been through the all the stages of it. 

Source of the image: Source: PositivePsychology.com

Comfort zone – My regular life until the day I wanted things to change. 
Fear zone – When I thought how to exactly change and that efforts required. 
Learning zone – When I acted on what I had planned previously and was experiencing things myself (for eg, my solo trip, some of my internships), and I still continue to be in that at the moment.
Growth zone – I think I am in the growth zone right now, because I believe you grow as you learn. 

Have you faced something similar?