Imprisoned by the Comfort Zone

Close-up of cage wire with out-of-focus image on other side

On Pinterest, I pinned this great quote by Anais Nin:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom.”

My friend and fellow career pro Shahrzad Arasteh commented on the imagery conveyed by this quotation. Of course, it is quite a beautiful picture of opening up, basking in the light of taking a chance at success.

But then I thought about the converse — staying “tight in a bud.” Not being willing to venture outside of that familiar comfort zone. And this idea occurred to me:

People like being in their comfort zones until they realize that those comfort zones have become cages.

A rather uneasy feeling, isn’t it? To find that you have been entrapped by the very things that have felt so warm and secure. They’ve been your default for so long you can’t imagine not going to those places. And yet, when the awareness of the limitations is felt, those comfort zones cease to be welcomed. Rather, you may find yourself despising how you are a slave to them.

That is the first step to breaking out. Once you have a consciousness of what your comfort zones represent, you start to look around at the options. They don’t seem as scary now, do they? It might be interesting, exciting even, to make different choices. And you embrace the thrill that contemplating something new can bring.

But are you going to let it stop there? For as wonderful it is to consider new things, change is not real unless you actually do something.

Have you been experiencing an increased dissatisfaction with your job? Feeling stuck in your career? First, make sure that you are not making a change in a hasty manner. Once you have a little time to think things over and can see that change would be a positive thing, create a plan and start working toward it!

You’re the only one who can break free of the cage created by your comfort zone.

Image courtesy of JenVista GaLLeRiA JeNeSiS

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  1. Beautiful post, Melissa! I love your comment about the comfort zone becoming a cage, when it keeps us from even considering blooming. If we can think of it that way, I bet we’ll find it a little easier to find and pursue the path that’s right for us. Many thanks for your kind and generous mention, too.

    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      Thanks for your comments, Shahrzad! (And thank you for inspiring this post!)

      I know it’s a negative way of looking at things, but at the same time, it is worthwhile sometimes to consider the downside of the choices we make. And then, when we realize we are making a choice, we can “pursue the path that’s right for us.”

  2. george verdolaga
    Twitter: georgeverdolaga

    Well said Melissa. It is easier to do nothing rather than to make the necessary improvements to reach one’s goals. Talking about something is definitely easier than doing something about it. And most people know that even. But I guess the reality in life is that 5% of the human race make things happen, 70% watch things happen and another 25% wonder what happened. I guess most people need to reach that point where it’s too painful just to stay in those comfort zones before they do anything to change their situation.

    • Melissa Cooley
      Twitter: TheJobQuest

      I’m glad it connected with you, George! Yes, I agree that it is very hard to overcome the inertia to make changes, even when they are necessary. At some point, it can come down to deciding which is the lesser of two evils.

      I had to chuckle at your stats, but there is some truth there.

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