Have you spent what seems like your whole life as an introvert being told you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, to feel the fear and do it anyway? Do you find it impossible to understand how other people seem to thrive by doing just that?
Well, it turns out that there may well be a reason why you either feel physically sick at the thought of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, or can’t wait to get out there. Yup, you guessed it: you will react differently if you are introvert or extrovert. I often wondered why I couldn’t get excited about pushing myself figuratively off a cliff and yet I felt that I was somehow failing by not being able to do that (and not wanting to).
So firstly, what is a comfort zone? It is the place where you feel safe and secure, where you are comfortable and confident in your abilities. Sounds good, right? In fact, you may well ask yourself why you would ever want to leave. Well, if you never try to venture out of our comfort zone, what once was comfortable can easily become stifling. So, we do need to stretch ourselves to continue learning and growing.
However, the main difference between introverts and extroverts is just how we move forward. No way is better or worse, but our temperament will mean we are more suited to try one method over the other. Both introverts and extroverts (and ambiverts) can get to where they want to go, but whereas the extrovert is wired to actively enjoy stepping out of their comfort zone because their brains figure things out as they go along, introverts need to take smaller, calmer, more considered steps to get to the same destination. Think tortoise rather than hare.
It turns out I needed to listen to my gut as it knew that this pushing myself out there was not the way to go for me. It also makes sense of how different clients of mine over the years have approached setting and achieving goals. Those who picked a big goal and just went for it are my more extroverted clients and those who had a more measured approach the quieter clients.
Recently both Summer Turner and Jon Baker, who also work in the introvert space, have spoken about comfort zones. Their words have resonated strongly with me personally and in my work. Jon Baker suggests embracing your comfort zone plus 5% discomfort, whereas Summer Turner refers to that +5% as “dancing on the rim of our comfort zone” – 1 foot out, 1 foot in. By taking these incremental steps what once seemed unachievable and wildly out of reach becomes accessible and possible.
However you chose to name it, as an introvert I recommend that that you push yourself little by little. Remind yourself how far you have come and you will soon see that what was unthinkable has become something that you are comfortable with and who knows, may even enjoy!
As for me, you can find me at www.quietosophy.com and www.linkedin.com/in/sophie-morris-coaching/