Ahh, the comfort zone. It's safe and easy, and most of us are guilty of lingering there a little longer than we should at times. I don't think a little bit of sitting in that comfort zone is all bad, but when it comes to creativity, it's not something we should rest in forever.

The comfort zone is familiar and repetitive, minimising stress - so it can be really useful if you need to refocus on some of that personal enjoyment of your creative process. It might look like: taking the pressure off your art, producing more playful work which doesn't stretch you as much, relaxing deadlines, worrying less about the end result.

Often, staying in our comfort zone means we avoid sharing our creative work, minimising risk - which might be helpful if you're trying to build confidence up again after a rejection or critique. It might look like: keeping your work private while you work on a draft or painting purely for yourself rather than making art to sell.

are you hiding in your comfort zone

However, when we only do the things which feel easy and familiar we are choosing to avoid those things which are scary or difficult.

We are choosing to stay invisible or quiet because understandably it feels safer than the alternative - taking up that space. This can lead to frustration as we experience a lack of forward progress, and leaves little room for creative growth.

This is hiding in your comfort zone rather than happily (and intentionally) sitting in it.

Something we can work on together through mentoring is nudging those boundaries of your comfort zone and making sure you aren't hiding in there. To start with we might see if you identify with any of the signs below...

Four signs you're hiding in your comfort zone:

  • You can't get started on something new - lack of confidence, self doubt, uncertainty - whatever it is, you're holding off or delaying things until you feel 'ready'. Maybe you're over-preparing or obsessively over-researching to avoid having to do the thing that seems new and risky.

  • You're stalling on finishing or making any real progress - seeking safety can mean getting stuck in this 'working through' phase without ever finishing or taking that next step (sharing your work!). This might look like procrastination - ie tidying your workspace every day before you can get started.

  • You're bored - you keep getting distracted and sidetracked by shiny new ideas which you start straight away. This lack of focus means you're never making progress on any one thing, therefore avoiding having to put your work into the world.

  • You're over-editing - endless proofreading or tinkering will leave you trapped in the boring safety of your manuscript forever. We need critical feedback, input, and outside encouragement and support if we're ever going to allow our work to shine the way it deserves.

Do you recognise yourself in any of these signs?