Your Comfort Zone is Hurting You

July 29, 2013

 Your comfort zone is hurting you

Your comfort zone is hurting you

You have gone through endless hours of study and practice and finally arrived at a point where you feel comfortable, congratulations! It really is amazing and satisfying to feel that you can now speak without embarrassment and with confidence. Now you can carry a conversation, figure out whether those people were really talking about you and go to that country you’ve always dreamed of and speak the language. So what’s next?

I am specifically talking about language learning but this truly applies to anything you are currently studying or want to master. After all the studying and reading to get to that point, is it over? No. Some would argue that the hardest part has just begun. It is much easier to forget what you have learned than going through the process of learning it. The reason is that once you have reached your goal and start feeling comfortable you may begin regressing if you do not continue to challenge yourself. 

Comfort is great once you reach it but you do not want to be in it for too long. It is the desire to continue evolving, learning and mastering an activity that makes us better at it. We humans have a tendency to want maintain our status and security. Vulnerability is rejected because it is uncomfortable, but it can also make us grow and progress. Unless you learned a language because you are now living in a country that required you to do so, getting out of your comfort zone is a must. For example, you move to France for work but have no knowledge of the language. After a few months and hard work at it you become fluent. In this scenario you will most definitely continue to improve your French language skills precisely because you are immersed in the culture and the language. On the flip side however if you want to learn French and live in South America once you have gained fluency it would be a mistake to leave it at that.

Although it is certainly more difficult to practice and maintain fluency while not being immersed in the language, there are many things you can do to keep getting better. Following are three activities you can engage in right now to help you improve on your language skills. They all involve stepping out of your comfort zone. 

1. Get a Pen Pal – I know what you’re thinking, but this is nowadays an excellent way to meet people from different parts of the world and best of all thanks to technology no pen or paper are required. There are several websites out there that can help you get started. Once you have an online pen pal you can start Skyping and actually speak the language. It may be awkward at first but you will notice improvements very quickly. Here are a two to peak your interest
a. PenPal World
b. InterPals


2. Blog – It is a great way to communicate, interact and share thoughts. In this case blogging can also help you with your newly acquired language. Just learned French? Why not blog in it? Just imagine, once or twice a week you publish a post on your favorite topic in French. Not only does this keep you thinking in French but it enables you to find ways to say things differently. And who knows, maybe you gather a following and start interacting with French readers. How awesome would that be?


3. Travel – It is a great way to communicate, interact and share thoughts. In this case blogging can also help you with your newly acquired language. Just learned French? Why not blog in it? Just imagine, once or twice a week you publish a post on your favorite topic in French. Not only does this keep you thinking in French but it enables you to find ways to say things differently. And who knows, maybe you gather a following and start interacting with French readers. How awesome would that be?

Remember, comfort zones maintain the status quo. You want to move up the ladder and continue to improve? Discomfort and vulnerability are excellent ingredients. 

Until next time!