Working from Home Getting You Down?

– Step Out of Your Comfort Zone –

For most of 2020 and continuing into 2021 our work routines have been physically confined to our home offices (the kitchen table for many), or confined to a small part of the company complex where we don’t mix with other people. And on a personal/interactive level, even our self-expression has been somewhat confined (no one can really see our emotions, elation or anguish, when we’re wearing masks or in a zoom meeting).

For some of us there is a measure of comfort in this confinement, e.g., a no stress daily commute, the relaxation of business attire norms, the acceptance that meetings can be interrupted by children (although that’s a double-sided sword), the suspension of some pretty ridiculous corporate rules (no food in the conference room, specific break times, internet time restrictions, travel policies), and we can even remain somewhat “anonymous” during on-line meetings. Many of these confinement conditions offer us a greater degree of control, and thus contribute to our comfort within our very own “comfort zone” – and that’s a good thing. However, prolonged confinement in our comfort zone can also restrict our ability, perhaps even our desire, to look outside of our comfort zone for opportunity and growth – and that’s not such a good thing.

Taking a closer look at the pros and cons of comfort zones, we see that a personal comfort zone is a state of mind in which things feel familiar to us, and where we operate with low levels of stress and anxiety; again, a good thing. However, stepping out of our comfort zone typically increases our levels of stress and anxiety, but at the same time … and here’s more good news … increases our levels of focus and awareness!  And when our focus and awareness increase in unfamiliar areas, we grow as individuals and develop new insights and skills. Thus, stepping out of our comfort zone is a mix of “pain” and “gain”; with the pain quickly subsiding and the gain continuing.

Knowing this, we should endeavor to step outside our comfort zones frequently, since doing so is a key to life-long learning. If you’re interested in learning more, and overcoming some of the negative aspects of work confinement, here are a few simple tips for stepping out of your comfort zone:

1. Show Up! – “80% of success is just showing up”, but you must start! Get in the growth and development game, now! Don’t wait until it feels good. Get out of your routine and join a new business or social community, engage in an interactive webinar, take on a new challenge with a colleague, etc. – jump in!

2. Step Up! – take accountability for your growth and development; accept the reality of the new work environment and recognize the benefits and limitations, choosing to take advantage of both. Don’t become a victim of the environment!

3. Shake it Up! – embrace your discomfort and vulnerabilityFeeling vulnerable increases awareness. Use it to your advantage. Get engaged in those zoom meetings you’re attending, don’t hide in the background. Ask lots of questions, and invite others to give feedback on your ideas and suggestions. Extend a hand, help a colleague, put others first. Take a risk!

Our confinement may or may not continue throughout 2021. But in either case, the sooner we step out of our comfort zone the sooner we step into the zone of opportunity and growth – and that’s where the good stuff happens!

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