People in every industry and from all walks of life suffer from a debilitating addiction. Its effects keep people from reaching their potential and from truly enjoying life. It's called "comfort addiction," and it occurs any time someone complains about their job or their life, yet never makes a change.
People who suffer from comfort addiction are addicted to the comfort level they're currently at -- even if they claim they don't like their current job or situation. While it may sound illogical to stay in a situation that makes you unhappy, it's actually very common. Why? Depending on how someone was raised and how that person is now living his or her life, the person has a pattern developed and got used to living a certain way. At this point, even a behavior that's not normal seems normal, so the person continues to live that way.
For example, suppose you grew up in a household where your father verbally abused you. Throughout life you thought that's how all male leader figures acted. Now in your job, you have a male boss who yells and verbally abuses people. While it's an uncomfortable situation, it's what you're used to, so you don't do anything to change it. You're comfortable with being uncomfortable in this scenario. That's comfort addiction.
Realize that this is a very real addiction, just like being addicted to alcohol, gambling, food or drugs. So even though someone says he wants to get a promotion or start a business, he really doesn't want the responsibility that comes along with what the goal would create. He doesn't want to wake up at 5 a.m. and work a long day because he'd miss his "comfort routine": a workout at the gym, coffee at Starbucks, and lunch with some friends talking about his dream job.
If you're seriously ready to make a change in your life and get out of your comfort zone, the following strategies will help.
• Rebuild trust with yourself.
One of the reasons why people suffer with comfort addiction is that they don't trust themselves. Perhaps they've tried to make a change in the past but didn't succeed, either because they didn't plan the change properly or they attempted too much too soon. As a result, they have a constant loop playing in their head that repeats their failure(s) and says, "I'm not good enough."
To overcome this, commit to small things and accomplish them. For example, you could commit to something simple, such as wearing a tie to work today or showing up on time. The key is to pick one simple thing you can commit to, not a laundry list of several things that will overwhelm you. As you accomplish the one small thing, do it again the next day. Then, add something else you'll commit to. Once you start to believe what you say to yourself, your confidence will start to soar.
• Send yourself positive messages.
Anytime you leave your comfort zone, your natural tendency will be to return to it. And unfortunately, turning to friends and family for support doesn't often work. While they do love you and want the best for you, they too suffer from comfort addiction. They know you as a certain type of person with a certain job and lifestyle, so seeing you as someone new is hard for them. Therefore, you have to keep yourself motivated and on track to your goal.
To do so, send yourself positive affirmations, text messages, emails and voicemails to keep yourself lifted and inspired. Actually write them or record them and send these messages to yourself. It may sound odd, but it does work. When you hear yourself say, "Have a great day. I believe in you!" in your own voice, the message sinks in. Additionally, reading positive messages in your own words increases their believability in your brain. The more positive messages you can send yourself to stay motivated, the easier it'll be to leave your comfort zone.
• Visualize yourself one step away from that goal.
Many self-improvement experts say to visualize yourself in your goal -- actually achieving it and celebrating. That works for some people, but if comfort addiction has its grip on you, a better approach is to visualize yourself one step away from what you always say you want. Feel what that's like. Savor that moment. See it on a movie screen. Being that close to your goal, how do you feel?
When you're one step away, you only have one more step to take until you succeed. At this moment, you can finally see what's really stopping you from getting that goal. You can see your saboteur or comfort addiction trigger. If you're one step away, have done all the work and only have one step left, you can do that one thing. That one thing -- whatever it is -- is easy to overcome. You simply have to identify what it is.
• Take a serious look at your health.
Many times a person's poor health is the culprit for comfort addiction. In fact, sometimes we are not even aware of what is going on in our bodies. When our energy levels are low, our motivation for getting out of our comfort zone goes out the window. Additionally, when you're not strong physically -- when you feel weak and tired -- you simply don't have the energy to make a change. You stay in the comfort zone and don't know why.
If you think your health has a role to play in your comfort addiction, by all means consult a doctor. Also consider adding exercise to your daily routine to boost circulation and enhance your energy. Reduce or eliminate your use of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. These substances can become very addictive, masking a greater imbalance in your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Finally, choose to be joyful to enhance your mental health. Cultivate a spirit of gratitude, and regularly forgive others as well as yourself.
• Go For It!
Ultimately, you get to choose how you live, what you do and how successful you are. It doesn't matter how you've been raised, what kind of jobs you've had in the past or what your current income level is -- your future is always your choice. Don't be comfortable in your self-pity or victim mentality. How your work or personal life is now is not how it always has to be. When you acknowledge that you have a comfort addiction and take the steps to overcome it, you can achieve every goal you set out for yourself and live the life of your dreams.