Comfort zone and safety zone are both commonly used terms, most people regard them as the same thing yet they are two totally different concepts. This article discusses the concept of both comfort zone and safety zone and how we need to understand the difference between the two.
I am sure you have heard the phrase ‘get out of your comfort zone’ but have you ever thought what actually is your comfort zone?
The definition of comfort zone is that it is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, in which they use habitual like behaviour to perform tasks to an acceptable standard, autonomously and without stress.
Your comfort zone is also a type of mental conditioning that you create, it causes you to operate within self imposed mental boundaries, these self imposed boundaries are dangerous for 2 reasons, firstly they create a sense of security which may be unfounded, and secondary these boundaries are also limiting in what you think you can do.
Although being in ones comfort zone feels safe it may not be so, additionally self imposed mental boundaries cause a closed mind that does not prepare you for opportunity when it arises.
Therefore staying in ones comfort zone may not always be beneficial and can clearly leave you at a disadvantage despite how comfortable it feels.
Your comfort zone is actually a state of mind created by you, it is your internal state, it is how you feel and behave when your anxiety and stress levels are in a ‘neutral state’, it is self imposed and can change depending on how you react, control your state, what resources you have, in addition to what you focus on.
Another commonly used term is ‘safety zone’, your safety zone is quite simply when you or your business are operating in a safe environment, unlike your comfort zone your safety zone is relative to factors in your external environment as opposed to your comfort zone which is all about how you feel internally.
The concept of ‘safety zone’ can easily be applied to your life, your business or your organisation. Some of the factors that can influence where your safety zone lie are political, economical, social or technological.
When things are more difficult the conditions that you and your business operate in get harder, the safety zone for you and your organisation may therefore lie outside of your usual comfort zone.
When this happens your comfort zone and safety zone diverge and move apart, so in these times in order to survive and stay in your safety zone you will need to raise the bar and move out of your comfort zone.
We can be too easily conditioned to stay in our comfort zone, it feels good, it takes little effort and energy to stay there and therefore at times we fail to see that by staying there we are leaving our safety zone.
An example of this would be that it’s like failing to disengage your autopilot and land before you run out of fuel.
In the least we need to recognise that these two terms are discrete, then when we have done this we need to be able to recognise when our comfort zone starts to fall outside of our safety zone.
We need to understand the difference between comfort zone and safety zone, we need to recognise where we lie in either zone and when we may need to leave our comfort zone, to grow, to take risks, to change what we do, and use extra resources to survive.
Some people believe that ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’, for these people their norm is to push the envelope, to raise the bar and to stay clearly outside their comfort zone at all times.
To be outside your comfort zone means that there is heightened levels of stress, to a point this can lead to optimum performance, yet in the extreme can lead to burn out so there’s a balance we need to take into consideration when we expose ourselves to stress.