You will see this every January in gyms everywhere. The newly motivated crowd the weights and cardio room with the intention of finally changing their physiques. But, by February the gym has quieted down as people start losing sight of their goals and slip back into their old comfort zones of irregular exercise and poor eating habits. Before you know it the year will have gone and then the same goals will be set for the following year, but will they be achieved? Probably not!
Planning Your Dreams
Most people like to plan what they are going to do, as its fun and motivating to let your mind dream about changes you want to make with your physique and life. However, without consistent actions on these plans and positive thoughts will stay nothing more than just dreams? Staying in your comfort zone affects the general public more than bodybuilders and strength enthusiasts.
This is because many people of the general public don't have a deep-rooted love of lifting iron, while for bodybuilders training is a major part of their lives whereas for many others it is just something do as a means to losing a few pounds.
Also, serious lifters tend to have much more specific goals than the average Joe. We don't just vaguely say that we want to lose 10 pounds and tone up. Rather, we get down to the small details of individual strength goals per exercise; increase measurements, increasing lean body mass whilst shaving off body fat percentage. Also, for many the huge goal of a competing in a bodybuilding contest within the year.
However, this isn't to say that bodybuilders aren't susceptible to falling into comfort zones. I have had my battles with this in the past and often wondered why, I've looked into the subject and this is what I came up with.
Why Do We Fall Into Our Comfort Zones?
Incorrect feelings and beliefs that you're already doing well.
When we train if we're stronger than the average gym rat or the "I just want to tone up" trainer we can develop a false sense of achievement. It doesn't matter if you're stronger than them, that won't help you if the weights you're using has not changed in the past six months, or if you've not added any new fresh muscle to your physique. Feeling that you're already achieved amazing great results keeps you in your comfort zone if you stop shooting for more.
Now I'm not saying that admiring and being proud of your achievements is a bad thing, looking back at how far you've come is great motivating factor. But, if doing so takes away your hunger to reach new levels then it is a problem. The trick is to never be satisfied, there is always more to achieve. Never believe that you have reached your full potential in terms of size and strength. Hell, if IFBB pro's can keep adding new muscle year after year you can bet that less advanced trainers can also.
Lack of confidence that you can achieve your goals?
After the fun of dreaming about what you want to achieve you can sometimes be faced with the daunting task of actually trying to make it a reality. If you don't believe that you can achieve your
goals you've got little chance that you will make them happen. You can beat yourself mentally before you even got started.
Feeling overwhelmed by your goals isn't the way to go. Sure you have to set challenging goals, but make your short term goals realistic and something you can get your teeth into with full confidence that you can make them a reality. Save the overwhelming goals for your long-term plans, as these are what you're shooting for further down the road, and are slowly working towards with small steps everyday.
Not paying enough attention to nutrition and supplementation?
If you hitting the gym religiously 4 times a week, with a positive attitude but fail to have a sound nutrition and supplementation plan, then you are keeping yourself in your comfort zone, even if you might not realize it. Standing still through not giving your body the fuel it needs to grow is a major mistake many make. Another example of how people hold themselves back is when after they have planed out their nutritional plan but never fully putting it into practice. All those good intentions means very little if your consistency with the eating and supplements plan is zilch.
Failing to analyze you're present achievements compared to your goals.
Just spinning your wheels and hope that you're doing your best isn't going to cut it when searching for amazing results. You need to be fully aware of how you're presently doing. Are you achieving your short-term goals? Sticking to your diet? Training with 100%
intensity? It is important to assess your progress frequently, make yourself aware of your shortcoming so that you can take measure to overcome them and get back on track. Many people just float from one routine and/or diet plan to another with the hope that it will hold the key to their success.
This is a huge mistake especially if you haven't given your all to your current training and diet plan. Self-assessment can be hard to do, no one likes to put him or herself down or admit their lack of commitment. Being honest with yourself will reap much more rewards than sticking in your comfort zone and pretending that you're doing fine and that someday things will start to click into place. You have to make results happen, they never happen by chance or mistake.
Fear of Success?
I know this sounds weird, but when it comes to breaking your comfort zones your fear of success can be stronger than your fear of failure. People can actually sabotage themselves from reaching their full potential because that means actually breaking out of their comfort zone and standing in new, uncharted territory. As much as people want to achieve success they also fear the unknown. Thoughts such as, 'building 20 pounds of solid muscle would completely transform my physique' although that sounds great the process of actually making that a reality is daunting to some, as it means that they will have to make many sacrifices along the way.
Giving up bad eating habits, no more going out late partying, having to really push themselves harder and heavier in the gym, sticking to a rigid diet plan. These changes might be too much for some to commit to, therefore they accept being mediocre with the excuse that they like who they are. It is similar to the athlete who 'chokes' when they have the opportunity to win. The thought of actually achieving their dream and becoming special overwhelms them and they start to make mistakes which steals away their chance at victory and keeps them in their comfort zone.
Nelson Mandela talked about fear of success in one of his speeches: 'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "…Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn't help the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give permission to others to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others!'
How To Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone!
Firstly, it is important to change your mind-set. Become an achiever and go-getter, rather than a procrastinator and an excuse maker. Don't view challenges with fear or become negative at the lofty heights to reach, view them as stepping stones that will propel the quality of your life forward and setting the tone for future achievements.
Secondly, whenever you feel overwhelmed by tasks in front of you don't ignore these feelings. Rather, face them head-on. Address your doubts and ask yourself 'Why do I feel I can't achieve this?' write down the reasons and then for every one negative point write twice the amount of positive steps you are going to take to make these goals real. You'll be surprised at how little the negative points look once you've got them on to paper. This will give you confidence that you can succeed and in time that negative voice inside your head will stop talking to you.
Thirdly, keep a journal of your mind-set. Along with recording your training and diet, write down how you feel mentally. Good or bad, this way you can stay in charge of you emotions. Aim to be thinking positively all the time, however everyone has their 'off days' it's those who bounce back quickest and stay in a motivated mind-set who achieve the most. Read motivation books to keep your mind focused. I like to read Skip La Cour's book 'Thinking Big' as it has mental exercises inside for you to work on. I also enjoy reading about inspirational people and how achieved greatness or overcame huge obstacles. These books really psyche me up as it just underlines what people can achieve when they don't accept failure as an option.
Fourthly, visualize yourself attaining your goals. Grain into your head that you will someday soon achieve those thoughts and develop a huge hunger for that day to come. Every time you go to the gym, visualize lifting huge weights that you can't currently lift, this will start priming your mind for the day when it actually comes to lift those big weights. Also, instead of fearing if you can or can't lift them, you'll have massive confidence in yourself that you can do it and nothing is going to stop you.
Staying On Track
Lastly, to continuously stay on track with your goals and not slip back into your comfort zone it is important to always keep setting new and exciting goals. Enter a bodybuilding competition for the first time. There is nothing more motivating than knowing that soon you'll be up on stage showing off your hard work. If you've competed previously, set yourself the targets to gain 10 pounds of new muscle and come in with better condition than before.
If you have no desire to enter a competition, set strength goals so that every time you go to hit the weights you're competing against your previous performance. Along with these huge goals, you will step up your performance in the gym and monitor your diet closely. Before you know it you'll be achieving new levels which once didn't feel possible and will give you a boost in all areas of your life.
Quote from Nelson Mandela's inaugural address 1994 taken from 'A Reason to Love' by Marienne Williamson.
All the best,