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The Comfort Zone and its Near Neighbours

Aug 17, 2007
The comfort zone is the place we usually inhabit because it's, well, comfortable.

It's not only comfortable, it's safe, familiar, re-assuring, non-threatening and so on. No wonder we don't like going out of it.

Outside of the comfort zone is the stretch zone. This is where we're faced with challenges which we know we'll dislike doing but will get a buzz from having achieved them. We're both intimidated and excited at the same time about doing them. The heart rate is raised and we're slightly pre-occupied with the forthcoming challenge.

Outside of the stretch zone is the panic zone. This is the place we've tried to avoid for most of our lives. We know there are some things we just aren't up to doing and the mere thought of having to try and do them sends us into a spin. The heart is now thumping and we are totally pre-occupied with what we have to face. We wake in the night in a cold sweat and everything else in our lives is put on hold while we prepare ourselves for the challenge, or even try to find ways to get out of it.

So, those are the three zones but we have to bear in mind that they mean different things to different people. How come? Surely, we can all cope with something as non-threatening as sitting watching TV and we would all be panicked by being in an aircraft with engine trouble?

Certainly, those examples would be true but if I was to suggest to you that you had to swim 800 meters in open water, what would your reaction be?

If you're a competent swimmer then you'd be in your comfort zone. If you're able to swim but
are used to just a few lengths of the local pool then, you'd feel stretched. If however, you can't swim or can only manage a few strokes, you'd immediately be in your panic zone.

As another example, take public speaking. I tell you that you have to give a speech to 100 people you don't know tomorrow.

If you're an accommplished speaker, you'll be ok with that but if like most people, you dread the thought of ever having to do that, then the next 24 hours would be interesting wouldn't they?

Part of a life-coach's skills is determining which zone your client is in when committing to actions in order to achieve the goal.

If the action doesn't take them from their comfort zone, then there probably isn't enough motivation for them to achieve much. If on the other hand they are taken straight into panic zone, they might never be able to move forward and the coaching momentum grinds to a halt.

It's my belief that good progress through life-coaching can best be achieved by getting your client to commit to actions which take them into their stretch zone. Not only will they be moving closer to their goal but their self-confidence will be going through the roof as each challenge is met and dealt with.
About the Author
Andrew Poole was CEO of a Finacial Services Company in the UK and is now a qualified Life-Coach
To Find out more about Life-coaching and take the FREE Fine-Tune Your Life test, visit:
http://www.andrewpoole.net
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