Comfort Zones and Testing Your Limits

Comfort zone and testing limits

Earlier this week, as I sat on my bike going nowhere (aka. Bike 33 at Wheelhouse Cycle Club), a comment that the motivator made caught my attention. I am likely to butcher what she actually said, and if she reads this post, she will likely roast me in our next class, but it was something along the lines of “You do not need to show up here the same way you did last week, or the way you will show up next week, but each time you show up here, I want you to commit to testing your limits, pushing your boundaries, and seeing what happens”. This is not the first time she has said a version of this comment, but on this day, during this class, it caught my attention.

This is exactly what I encourage my clients to do, whether they are kiddos, teens or adults. Asking them to push their limits, stretch their capacities, fail at what they thought they could do and get up again anyway. We are all creatures of habit, though. We develop comfort zones based on our strengths. Life feels safe when we are staying in our comfort zones. However, as enticing as it sounds, we miss out when staying in this comfort zone. Staying here means we see other people improve at sprints while we stay on the lowest resistance and just go through the motions. Staying here means wanting to talk to a new classmate but fearing you might say the wrong thing and therefore don’t get to know someone new. Staying here means not applying for a new job because you are afraid you might not get it. Alternatively, not applying for a new job because you are afraid you might actually GET the job and …. then what! If we take a step out of our comfort zone, we will undoubtedly find stress, anxiety and disappointment at times, but we will also find new capabilities, new passions, and newfound pride.

How can you commit to testing your own limits? One way is to get clear about the tiny steps you might take that are dipping your toe outside of your comfort zone. What is a stretch, but still feels safe? That might include saying hi to a new person in your class or joining a running club to work towards running your first 5km race. As you continue to step outside of these comfort zones and stretch your potential, you gain experience. You learn. You get better!

I am far from perfect at stretching my own limits! When motivators suggest a turn of the resistance dial, sometimes I short-change myself and give it a quarter turn instead of a full turn. But some days, I genuinely need the break. Sometimes, we need to pull back when we have stretched too far. Some days are just plain tricky! But don’t let the tough days derail you or dwarf the satisfaction that comes with showing yourself how truly capable you are.



Candace Tonner, M.A., Registered Psychologist (Provisional)