What good does staying in your “discomfort” zone do?

Victoria Gimeno. Director Institutional Relations. IE University

1 September 2014

The crisis has resulted in the world being “a less happy place than five years ago” according to Jeffrey Sachs, but it is possible to buck this trend by working on your self-esteem.

"Every day I earn less and there’s nothing I can do about it.” “They’ve promoted my colleague who doesn't do a thing.” “Better not to say anything, because if I say what I really think it will only make things worse.” “I would leave this job, but what would my family think?” “I spend my life thinking that they are going to fire me and I can’t sleep at night.” “They block all my proposals.” “I’m being bullied but I just have to put up with it …” Sound familiar?

These are some of the comments I hear repeatedly from my coachees. But whenever I suggest that they set an objective and work on it, said objective ends up being to stay in a situation that they see as unbearable, resigning themselves to it, and trying to arrange things so that it affects them as little as possible.

As Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute says: “The world is a less happy place than five years ago,” and, even more depressingly: “The effects of the crisis will extend long after it is over”.

These comments are real and they evidence the low self-esteem that is now prevalent as a result of the economic crisis which has had such a devastating effect on our confidence in ourselves, stemming our capacity to launch new projects and take initiative.  Suffering and pain have taken root and we are clearly in a “discomfort” zone.

Low self-esteem paralyzes us and has a negative impact on the types of behavior we exhibit, which includes the following:

• Fear of taking on new challenges
• Feeling incapable of exercising other competences and, therefore, of improving our performance and launching new projects
• Feeling incapable of learning anything new
• Needing constant approval of others to take any decision, no matter how insignificant.
• Depending on someone who protects us
• Living in a constant state of resentment and suffering
• Falling into a rut of mediocrity
• Not moving forward, not developing our careers or growing as people
• Falling into a depression, which is even harder to shake off

That is why I propose that you start working on your self-esteem, and that you follow these pieces of advice:

Recognize your talents and list them
• Make a list of your achievements, things you are proud of
• Do not compare yourself to people you know, there is always somebody better than you.

Surround yourself with positive people, cheerful people who want to be enterprising and progress in their work. Avoid people who play the victim.
• Share your ideas and knowledge
• Do not talk to yourself in negative terms. You can create realities with your language.
• Look for other interpretations of your current situation and your past.
• Live your life, not that of others
• Swing into action

What do you gain from staying in your discomfort zone? And, what is more important, what do you lose by remaining there?
Remember that if you want to do something, you can, and if you can, you should.

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