Why You Should Stay Positive When You’re Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s start with some light science. When the space program got its start, NASA launched the Saturn V to explore outer space. The rocket went through a 3-stage launch process in which—very simply put—each time it traveled a certain distance from the ground, it shed a layer, until the final portion of the rocket propelled into space. Out of all three stages, the first stage carried the rocket the shortest distance, yet required the most fuel. As the rocket propelled deeper into space, it progressively accumulated enough momentum to enter orbit using less and less fuel.


Flickr CC via Thomas of Tortuga

When I started in entry level sales ten years ago, my first 6 weeks were easily more challenging than any weeks since. Not only did I have to learn a new skill set, but I was anchored by the gravitational pull of my pre-existing beliefs: my comfort zone…outside influences…immaturity…distractions…skepticism…and an overall lack of self-confidence. It took every ounce of fuel to detach myself from the forces pulling me down. As a result, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Admittedly, I was tempted to give up out of frustration.

Something within me decided to keep pushing, though. Before I knew it, I had made it to the second stage, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was slightly easier than the first. I had developed momentum in the first stage; and better yet, I had developed some confidence and a concrete skill set to fall back on.

Each time I have advanced in my career, I have noticed a similar pattern. Over time, I have developed a healthy anticipation of discomfort when I am pushed outside of my comfort zone, and as a result I have learned not only patience, but appreciation for it.

So what can we take a way from this anecdote? As a rookie, you should always expect to burn the most fuel during take-off. Whether you are beginning a new career, learning a new skill set, taking on a new responsibility, or tackling a new entrepreneurial venture, you are inevitably going to experience growing pains. Accept it and come to terms with it!

Now that you have realistic expectations, it’s time to start making smart decisions. Why? Because there is a light at the end of the tunnel! But guess what: you’ll never get to that light if you just give up. If you don’t push past the initial negatives, you’ll never get to the sweet spot of anything. The only real way to become successful is to force yourself to keep going (with a positive attitude!), no matter how far outside of your comfort zone you are.

There is a great quote by an anonymous author, “Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever,” and this is absolutely true. The struggle to launch is only temporary. Take comfort in knowing that a strong take-off will generate the momentum that will carry you forward to wherever you need to go.

Before you go, take a second to connect with me on Google+… that would be great.

Elijah Medge, Long Beach