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The 1% Solution to Getting Out of Comfort Zones

Sep 19, 2020

"Gritty people train at the edge of their comfort zone. They zero in on one narrow aspect of their performance and set a stretch goal to improve it." 

                                                                                      - Angela Duckworth


Comfort Zones.  How many times have you heard you need to get out of your comfort zone(s) to achieve the results you desire? 


Authors, coaches and teachers have told us for decades that in order to really realize our dreams, we need to go beyond our comfort zones.


I totally agree. 


In fact, when I think of my own life and when I experienced my greatest results and feelings of satisfaction, it was always preceded with moving out of one of my comfort zones in some way, shape or form.


I also think that comfort zones get a bad rap. 


When I want to relax after a hard day's work and maybe curl up with a good book, flip on ESPN's Sports Center, or connect with a friend/family member, I am in my comfort zone. 


The trick, however, is not to pitch a tent there or, as some of us have done, build a four-bedroom home in our places of comfort.


In moving out of a comfort zone, I am sure we have all experienced the times when our enthusiasm has got us to take massive action at the start to realize our new goal or dream, only to be slowed down or come to a complete halt, when the excitement began to wane.   


The Japanese have a term for this, they call it, Boto no eiyuLiterally translated this means, "hero at the beginning" (Thank you, Brian Johnson and Optimize for this concept). 


It is natural for enthusiasm to decrease when undertaking almost any endeavor.  It usually happens when difficulties or obstacles arise, either in external challenges and/or with the internal chatter of our monkey minds that tell us it's just "too difficult" and time to return to our old places, mindsets or routines.


I have found that the best way for me, as well as many of my clients, to overcome this inevitable roadblock to comfort zone emancipation is to embrace a process I call The 1% Solution.




What I have found is when taking on a new activity to move out of a comfort zone, most of us over-commit in the actions we agree to. 


For example, someone who has been sedentary for many months/years and wants to release weight, will plan to go to the gym and workout 6 days per week for 2 hours per session. 


This lasts for a couple of days, until the muscle fatigue and lactic acid sets in and the soreness felt sets the stage for enthusiasm to wane.  When this happens, they then go back to their old lifestyle, feel guilty about not following through on their commitment and oftentimes even put on more weight.


What they experienced in their over-commitment was going from their Comfort Zone to their Panic Zone.


This was something so far out of the norm, so painful and a shock to their system, they could not maintain it. 


Rather than going to the Panic Zone, I suggest going to what author and high-performance coach, Lanny Bassham refers to as the Stretch Zone


This is committing to a behavior, activity or routine that is just beyond the current Comfort Zone


In the case shared above, this may mean rather than 6 days per week at the gym, our friend commits to walking around the block three days per week for 20 minutes each time. 


When this is done, stamina increases gradually, and confidence builds.  It is from this point; they may increase to 30 minutes per walk and even add resistance training a couple of times per week.


Social scientists tell us that the most efficient way to then build upon our Stretch Zones is to gradually increase our intensity by anywhere from one to four percent per day from our previous baseline to achieve breakthrough results.


Consider this.  If you were to improve your performance in a specific area each day by only 1%, over the following times periods, here’s the increase in results you would achieve:


  • 1 Year – 37 times better
  • 2 Years – 1,400 times better
  • 5 years – 76,000,000 times better


This compound impact on performance by just focusing on a one percent increase per day is The 1% Solution


It is from this practice true and sustainable transformation is realized.


So, this week, I challenge all of us to move through one of your comfort zones.  Commit to small incremental steps done consistently over time with moderate increases until you reach the level you desire, remembering the adage; 


Small things done consistently over time can lead to great results.


Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching

PS:  If you have finally decided to take small and consistent steps to experience a BREAKTHROUGH in your life, check out my new program, the Mind of a Champion Breakthroughs Mini-Course.  



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