Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

man-in-box-w-stickerEverybody talks about and pleads for embedding change into our lives.  The inevitable change must be acknowledged and then embraced as the ultimate guide to survival.  Going beyond the comfort zone is highly praised in any personal development book.  Yet nobody I know of ever talked about the possible pressure and damage on your relationships during and after your change takes place.  Any type of change: your hair color, job, house, car, attitude, behavior, diet, habits, … you name it.

In my opinion, you decision to change will be labeled by one of the following phrases with the embedded messages:


“Better before”

People who do not understand or accept the need and the effect of your change. For them the old you was perfect just the way it was.  Your former behavior, clothes, weight, job or hairdo contained their definition of you.  They were happy back then and your decision affects their comfort  simply because you had the audacity to choose differently and without/against their advice.

“Like me”

People who will praise your progress only if it fits their frame of reference. Any deviation from their definition of improvement will be carefully measured and sometimes held against.  They will support you along your way for only as long as they are able to accompany you.  Anything beyond that point results in reprimands demanding you to go back to their reference frame.

“Not good enough”

People who will never be content with the depth or speed of your changes. “Not good/fast/timely enough” is their vocalized verdict.  They will always position themselves at the finish line almost eager to measure and then emphasize your lack of stamina, qualities, and success in meeting their high aspirations.  Sometimes their frustration with themselves is projected unto you as the last standing chance to somehow make their life more significant.

“If you really think so”

People who do not believe in any of your reasons or goals but they are unwilling to argue either out of respect or skepticism.  They may not understand or truly accept your changes, but they will either support you all the way or leave you completely alone.  Either way their passive reaction will unfortunately block any useful comment or recommendation.

I am sure that in your life path you have heard such phrases and you had to come up with a response.  I am sure you must have taken into account the fact that the input was offered by people dear and valuable for you and as such their opinions mattered.  But how much of this entirely subjective support is really worth?  How much of their own ideas about your success should be considered?

The answer is all yours and entirely up to you.  If the change you have undertaken was initiated based on strong motivation and purpose then anybody else’s opinion can be treated as tolerated noise.  If you are unsure about the impact of the change on yourself or the relationships you care about maybe their feedback could mitigate serious risks and prevent failure.

In the end we all decide how we live our life.  We have to live with the effects of our choices – with or without opinionated bystanders.


“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has its enemies.”

Robert Kennedy