Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable


When a planner asks me if they are a candidate for coaching, I always find myself saying, “Never wait to succeed!” Unbeknownst to them, what they’re actually telling me is that they’re in a comfort zone and they’re not sure if they are ready to go beyond it.

Unfortunately, those who stay in their comfort zone rarely reach their pinnacle of success. Conversely, those who strive for excellence and never settle for mediocrity, they do what others won’t.

Remember feeling uncomfortable when trying new endeavors in pursuit of your business goals is a temporary situation. You soon realize that what may have seemed awkward initially turns into your new normal. The secret to getting to the next level is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. In order to do that you must first understand the Comfort Zone Model.

Understanding the Psychological States of the Comfort Zone Model

The Comfort Zone Model states that when people are faced with a difficult situation they will overcome and rise to the occasion by learning or growing; thus, lifting out of their comfort zone. However, I believe that many planners are stuck in complacency unless they have a strong enough reason for change. The following are three psychological states of the Comfort Zone Model and how it may pertain to you as a planner.

Level 1: Comfort Zone. The “comfort zone” is described as a psychological state in which things feel familiar and as a result there is a low level of anxiety, stress and feeling of being in control. Planners tend to get to settle in their comfort zone when they have created a book of business and gross production level which is acceptable to the company they work for, themselves and in some cases their peers.

However, change is inevitable. Eventually, the market will go down, clients pass away or transfer to other planners, and in some cases the firm you work for will increase their minimum gross production standards. When any of this happens, many planners are forced out of their comfort zone. Or, they are forced out of the industry.

Level 2: Optimal Performance Zone. Although stress and anxiety can play a large part in why a planner has to step out of their comfort zone, the act of doing these new activities can also create new anxiety and stress. However, if the planner continues focusing on learning and refining new ways of growing and maintaining their business they will soon find that they are in what is referred to as the “optimal performance zone”—a psychological state in which the planner is hitting peak performance.

The secret to staying in this state is to continuously want to want to work on your business while working in your business. When a planner is focused on improving their business they learn various tools, techniques, strategies and solutions that help them work smarter. As a result, they typically start to quickly see positive results.

Level 3: Danger Zone. As I had previously stated, some anxiety and stress can improve a planner’s performance because it propels them towards learning and growth. However, if too much anxiety occurs it can be paralyzing. This is referred to as the danger zone—a psychological state where disbelief lives and all actions cease. Performance therefore declines as anxiety and stress increase.

Take for instance Gail Z., a 25-year veteran who was told on Thanksgiving that if she didn’t achieve the company’s minimum gross production number by the first of the year she would be let go. This immediately put her into the danger zone” and the only thing that got her out of it was having a strategic plan to follow which helped her accomplish what seemed to be an unreachable goal.

Finding Your Psychological Zone

Obviously, it’s important to be aware of what psychological zone you’re in at any given time. If you feel complacent and not motivated you are most likely in your comfort zone. Beware of complacency because too much of it can have an adverse effect when you are faced with a situation like Gail was.

The place you want to find yourself is in a constant state of forward movement. Being willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable is paramount and will no doubt offer you a leg up as it forces you to continually think on your feet and come up with out-of-the-box solutions.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.



2 thoughts on “Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

  1. I lived through this about three years ago. I was at a comfortable place in my career and thinking that I would retire in approx. 5 years. What I quickly learned over the next 6 – 9 months was that you cannot coast in this business. You are either growing and moving forward or you are falling behind. Fortunately I recognized what was happening and took steps to correct it and am back to growing my practice. I have put a succession plan in place and plan on working until age 70.

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