Your friends and family are probably in this place. You’ve got your favorite things here, like food, a good book or TV show, a cup of coffee or tea, and some great hobbies. You learn about the world and major news from the CNN app on your phone. You even have a secure job and a nice apartment with garage parking.
BUT… growth eventually asphyxiates in this place. Opportunity dwindles to nearly nothing. Perspective becomes narrow and small. Adventure is hard to come by. Fear starts to take over. Confidence wanes. And dreams die.
This place is your comfort zone.
Did you plan to stop off here just for a little respite and end up falling asleep? Really take a moment to reflect… Especially if you’re a writer, filmmaker, or artist of any kind. If the answer is yes, it’s time to wake up and get the f*** out.
The comfort zone is a writer’s worst enemy, first and foremost because no one is comfortable with rejection, and rejection happens all the time when you’re a writer. Rejection is a scary monster lurking out there, beyond the perimeter of your comfort zone. And you know what else is out there? Besides life—yes, it’s a common adage that life begins outside your comfort zone, but I think that’s too abstract.
So what specifically happens when you step outside your warm circle of comfort and start taking (planned and calculated) leaps further and further outside? What other scary monsters await you when you venture into this uncharted territory?
The Top 5 Scary Monsters Outside Your Comfort Zone
Alright, whatever’s out there is so scary that you’re letting it hijack your life, success, and dreams. Why are these monsters so scary? What threat do they pose? I believe there are five major monsters we allow to stand in our way. Let’s examine…
Scary Monster #1: Failure. This monster is the biggest and baddest. It encompasses rejection, embarrassment, disappointment, and sometimes forfeit. But on the other side of failure, there’s a learning opportunity. Failure is always followed by professional and/or creative growth, if you decide to stick it out. Fail, fail, fail again—and at the very least, you’ll learn what’s not working. This improves your odds of finding what might work next time.
Scary Monster #2: Strange new people. A new professor. A new classmate. A new co-worker. A new networking contact. They may challenge you. Their opinions may differ from yours. They may not like your work or believe in what you’re doing. But they might also teach you new things and offer invaluable resources. Avoiding that networking event to watch Netflix on a Friday night? It could cost you a chain of events that would have led you to your biggest investor. New people unlock new opportunity.
Scary Monster #3: A cavernous abyss or two that you’ll probably never be able to cross. However, they do say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Obstacles inspire ingenuity and ignite passion. Overcoming them reinforces gratitude, courage, and strength. Getting across that chasm may not be achieved in a simple “leap of faith.” …But you can always build a bridge! Building a bridge will undoubtedly take time and energy, and probably money too. But if you invest enough, you may soon find yourself crossing your bridge to the other side.
Scary Monster #4: Falling into the abyss in the event that you miscalculated your leap of faith, or your bridge collapses when you’re halfway across. It may feel like death emotionally, but no, you won’t actually die. Eventually, you may even get used to the fall, because you’ll learn that perpetual risk-taking is part of all lasting success. (For more, see Scary Monster #1).
Scary Monster #5: Success! Many of us don’t realize we’re actually afraid of the very success we seek. With success, there’s pressure to perform, and possibly even public scrutiny. What if you can’t handle it? What if you get there and crumble? What if your next project sucks? The weight of that pressure can be overwhelming. Turns out, even after reaching success, the monsters don’t disappear. But with each step along the way, you’ll reach a new level of comfort. You just have to keep pushing past those perimeters.
So you see? Those monsters aren’t so scary after all. They’re frightening at first glance, but once you get to know them, you’ll discover new wisdom, untapped resources, creative reawakening, success, and continual growth.
Now you have no excuse for living inside your comfort zone. Get out there and fail.