Many people nowadays spent most of the time in their comfort zones. Subconscious actions dominate our days. Especially during the week, we’re like hamsters spinning our wheels. I recently experienced a moment of awareness after I completed a series of tasks almost automatically. It was in the morning, when I recognized that I got everything prepped for the day including filling up my body with – of course – a healthy breakfast. Yet where did the last hour go? Creepy, since I didn’t feel a glimpse of consciousness in my busyness. Rewarding, since I recognized that I can peak perform without any intentional interference.
“Existing” is our cosy starting point
At ExperienceZone we define existing by being in your comfort zone. It’s the luke warm area, in which you function just well. A great place to check off daily duties. In this space you run routines. Behaviors, that are written on your mental or even muscular hard drive. You don’t need to think about them anymore. Everything happens subconsciously. Great as this ensures in time and quality delivery. It provides reliability, predictability and thus certainty. Take “brushing your teeth”: Do you deliberately think about which tooth or corner of your mouth comes next? Most people don’t. They just habituated the sequence, intensity and length of their morning hygiene program.
Don’t sacrifice life quality on the altar of convenience!
There’re two risks attached to chilling in your comfort zone:
- You prevent learning opportunities. Learning happens in your experience zone. This is the area just outside your comfort zone, in which you try new things. Through trial-and-error, you’ll make mistakes and thus learn stuff. This makes you grow, more flexible, and wiser. Since we’re designed to grow (not only physically until adulthood but mentally and emotionally throughout our whole lives), we can only become happy if we tap into our experience zone.
- You tend to switch off your consciousness. This can make you loosing track of time. The downside of doing things in a robot-manner is that you aren’t in the moment with all senses. Yet research has shown that awareness of the “here-and-now” is a key to happiness. So if you want to practice mindfulness, you need to either leave your comfort zone or force yourself to perform internalized tasks consciously. This can be a fun exercise.
How do you find the right mix?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. In order to master your life, you need to be able to switch between both areas – comfort and experience zone – effortlessly. Here’s the approach which worked for me:
- Identify tasks, which you can and should perform subconsciously. Those are usually the ones which you’re engaging in for a long time and which aren’t challenging by nature.
- Write a bucket list or – even better – define your aims in life based on your mission. Those should contain things which you haven’t done or don’t posses yet. Next to audacious goals, write down small things you always wanted to do but always found excuses not to. In general, I recommend you to try out something new every week. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to go bungee jumping next Sunday. Just contemplate about those things you always found interesting or even exciting but never took time for. Especially activities, which cause irrational fears are most precious to uncover, as they bear the largest learning opportunities.
- Last but not least, do it! Don’t procrastinate. There’s magic in immediate action. I promise that you’ll an rewarding feeling straight afterwards. You’ve done something for the first time. Congrats and way to go!