Wake up! Your comfortable habits may be slowly strangling your business.

From our earliest days, we move toward comfort and away from discomfort. A baby cries when she’s hungry and keeps it up until she gets the milk she craves. A young child who’s overheated from playing in the sun will head for the shade so he can cool down.

What about us adult entrepreneurs? How do we get caught up in being comfortable? And what does that cost us in terms of confidence and cold, hard cash?

The tricky thing about staying tucked inside your comfort zone is that it’s not always evident that’s where you’re hanging out. This is bad news because, as Stan Dale puts it, “Comfort zones are plush-lined coffins.” The good news is that there are clues that will alert you if you’ve unwittingly let yourself get too comfortable. Be on the lookout for any of the following.casket by puuikibeach

1. You typically do the easy items on your To Do list first.

It feels so good to cross off those quick and easy items. But you really have to ask yourself whether sorting your paper clips by size is going to increase your value to your clients and add to your bank account.

2. You often hear yourself using the phrase, “It’s okay the way it is.”

None of us can afford to fall prey to perfectionism, because that’s a sure way to get absolutely nothing accomplished. On the other hand, none of us can afford to turn out mediocre work, either. There are too many talented competitors out there who are willing and able to steal your clients if you get into the habit of thinking that “good enough” will keep people coming back.

3. You haven’t updated your processes, your products/services, or your pricing in longer than you can remember.

Who doesn’t love feeling competent and in control? That’s the normal feeling when you’re operating in your comfort zone. However, I think Bob Dylan had a point when he said, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” In today’s marketplace, there’s no standing still; if you’re not actively improving what you offer clients, you’re losing ground – and your bottom line is suffering.

4. You barely know what your Quadrant II activities are, much less how to implement them.

Stephen Covey is typically credited with introducing the concept of Quadrant II activities: those which are important (because they’ll have significant impact on your business) but not urgent (because they lack deadlines). One of the best ways I’ve found to identify an important activity is to pay attention to whether I physically tense up when I think about it. If that happens, I can be pretty sure that the discomfort means my business success demands I move forward on it.

If you’re not sure what your Quadrant II projects are, of if you do know but are lousy at implementing them, you’re strangling your future growth.

5. You feel depleted rather than energized when reviewing your business results.

Comparisons are designed to make someone feel “less” in some way, and I usually discourage clients from comparing themselves to others. However, it can be very productive is to compare your current self/situation to where you were a year ago and where you want to be a year from now. Are you still basically where you were last year? Are you at a loss to see how and why next year will be better than this year? How does that feel? Are you suffering because you’re more committed to comfort than to results?

Not everyone will be willing to challenge their comfort zones. But if you’re one of those successful entrepreneurs who is willing, you understand exactly what Neale Donald Walsch means when he says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

How about you? What have you done to experience the satisfaction of pushing the envelope so you can play a bigger game?

By the way, thank you to puuikibeach for posting her (or maybe his) image of the coffin in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.
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