The Glen Hassard Comfort Zone Model
Firstly; when I search comfort zone in Google I see images like this:
So within your comfort zone are the things that you are comfortable with and your fear zone is beyond Comfort, then in my mind there must be a missing zone. A zone of discomfort, which I call the pressure zone. and I also considered that there must be a zone beyond fear which is the unknown zone (learning and growth are within the pressure zone which is also within fear), because there is usually still fear leftover that is still unconquered.
I then consider the model (below), as found on wikipedia: Comfort zone - Wikipedia
Wikipedia includes this:
White (2009) refers to the "optimal performance zone", in which performance can be enhanced by some amount of stress.
Yerkes (1907) who reported, "Anxiety improves performance until a certain optimum level of arousal has been reached. Beyond that point, performance deteriorates as higher levels of anxiety are attained." Beyond the optimum performance zone, lies the "danger zone" in which performance declines rapidly under the influence of greater anxiety.
My model of the comfort zone and beyond.
We have that which we are comfortable, capable and confident with the green zone (the comfort zone as below)
Note: also it is missing the fact that there are some things where we have zones that can meet (have no discomfort or fear, and in some cases no comfort).
Outside the green comfort zone, we have that which we are not comfortable with but not afraid of, including things we are quite capable of. As I type this I am concerned of my wording etc (I’m actually stressed right now *I’m delivering a new concept **How will people take it? am I clear enough?). I am the most capable person to deliver this information as nobody else has mentioned it (that I can find), and I’m moderately confident people will understand. But I am not comfortable, I’m in the yellow to orange pressure zone (this zone includes both the optimal performance zone and or the danger zone).
The pressure zone incorporates both the "optimal performance zone" and anxiety "the danger Zone" as they like "learning" and "growth" are different levels of pressure in a person's life. In my diagram above I have the "optimal performance zone" and anxiety "the danger Zone", marked in 3 quadrants (Social, Economical and Physical), though to give you a better understanding of these, I have used the Personal Zone to show how these are incorporated. It is a zone that blends the two and more so is a shade from yellow to orange.
Then we have the red fear zone; the zone that many people are thinking of when they talk about “stepping out of the comfort zone”. Some may say "get out of your comfort zone to overcome fear", but I can only see that you will have to go through your pressure zone to do that. Fear is a desire for safety which can limit our growth and performance. The fear zone is that which is somewhat known (what the fear is about) yet it regards the unknown, untested aspects of things we know.
Beyond fear we have the complete unknown; as in general, we are not afraid of the things we know nothing of. Are you afraid of the pen mic method? No you don’t know what it is so there is no fear. I have merely left it as a grey zone.
We have different comfort, pressure, fear and ignorance levels with all things, I have only used 4 major categories though there are more, then many sub categories (I've only thrown in a few).
Let's use a person who is a sports professional for the example above.
In the physical zone they are very comfortable, especially with running, their comfort levels are high here, they have smaller optimal performance, danger and fear ranges, and they know most of what is to be known about running. This athlete is also quite Social, moreso with the public than their family and in this case they know a secret about another family member who's unaware of their knowledge, hence the spike in fear with increased pressure and lack of comfort at the same point. Economically they're not comfortable with business, fear starting one and they know very little of business, they do invest with less fear. They are quite happy to spend money but also worry about where they will get money after their career is over. They're basically comfortable with themselves, but not in all areas. So their comfort zone model would look something like that above.
Having said that, I personally seek to reduce my discomfort zone, my fear zone and my knowledge of the unknown. I don't want to step out or get out of my comfort zone. I want to increase my comfort zone so that I can be more comfortable doing all those things that I do constantly within my pressure zone. I want to deliver these things for you comfortably without having the discomfort of how it may appear to you. I am currently outside it.
If you however are inside your comfort zone with things like budgeting and know you need to make changes. Yes step out, in doing so you are pulling that part of your comfort zone out. You will be in the pressure zone or maybe the fear zone. eg. You realise you've paid far more for insurance on your car than what the car cost and realise had you saved it instead you'd have more than your car's purchase price in the bank and still own the car. You could buy a newer car and sell the old one to kick off your own self-insurance fund. In this case you have stepped all the way through the pressure zone, to fear (if you are truly afraid of an accident even though you may haven't been in one in 10 or 20 years). You are actually in the fear Zone as you contemplate it and you leave it when you make the choice to do it or not.
Having made a decision if it was a fearful one:
If you have decided to make the change and at that moment you have pulled your pressure zone around you somewhat, as you're no longer fearful of the action it is now in your pressure zone. AT the moment you make the decision to act on the fear, the decision alone means you are now at least comfortable enough to do it (it’s no longer a fear but something you are extremely uncomfortable with, you may still be afraid of it's risks but you're no longer afraid to try.), Because it is still uncomfortable, your pressure zone has grown. You’re incorporating that fear into the pressure zone. This is also why I see learning and growth as happening mostly in the pressure zone, so they can never be outside the fear zone.
If you wish to take on your fears it is really best to do so gradually. By slowly increasing your exposure to that thing, you will overcome it!
If you choose to step back into your pressure or comfort zones by deciding not to do it, all of your fear is still there. If anything, your reconfirmation of your fear by choosing not to act is likely to increase your fear zone in that area. In taking actions outside your comfort zone it will increase a little regarding that thing (until such time as it becomes comfortable) which is the goal, isn’t it?
As most of our lives are not dealing with major life change issues, my goal is to increase my pressure zone (into the fear zone), but far more; to increase my comfort zone. I don’t want to spend a large amount of time even thinking of the fears I could overcome (it is still good to do so a little). I want to spend most of my time drawing my comfort zone to incorporate where I'm at.
My focus is on improving the current me instead of concerning myself with doing what I have been afraid of. As the zones change with action, some actions can make large changes quickly.
If our athlete was to tell the person that they know their secret, the spike in that area would reduce and their other zones would also change depending on the result. It may bring more peace and understanding between them where the inward spikes in comfort, optimal performance and danger would also smooth out (growing in those areas). If the result pulled them apart more, then those spikes would grow in comparison.
The model below is a cross section of my last diagram, it's looking from the horizontal rather than the vertical (with the black line representing the centre.
The blue lines in this diagram are anxiety though they are not filled so as to maintain the representation of the pressure zones etc.
The levels vary with every different situation like every other aspect of life. Anxiety grows in each area the further out it is.
Take each step into the things that make you anxious with care and when you have, look back and see that it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Each time you do those zones change and your overall anxiety reduces.
How does this relate to “the rut” That others talk of?
The Rut: though somewhat deserving of being within this diagram, it's more difficult to place ,so I have left it out temporarily. I see the rut as being more of a different issue that is highly related to this one.
The rut may be a small zone within the comfort zone or it can also incorporate some of the pressure zone. The rut; where you constantly do the same things that you are somewhat comfortable with, is something that we also need to work on. You can still be in a rut when you are inside the pressure zone. Yes, get out of the rut; but getting out of the rut does not necessarily mean attempting to do that which you are fearful of. You work on the rut by doing more of what you are not currently doing no matter what zone it is in.
Exposure Builds Resilence. If you watch a tear-jerker and cry a lot, the second time you watch you cry less, watch it enough and you will eventually watch it without crying. You have built resilience to the emotional effect of it. This applies to most things. EXPOSURE!
To sum up, I believe we should be expanding our comfort zones to incorporate what we are uncomfortable with, stepping out of them, but moreso; pulling our comfort zone around us. We should be making those awkward things comfortable and do new things, but certainly focusing on improvement more than overcoming fear, unless you can see a need to change in a major way.