How Comfort Zones Change Over Time

How Comfort Zones Change Over Time

How Comfort Zones Change Over Time

On the morning of February 19th, 2022, I was up at 3:30 am. I downed a quick breakfast and in a couple of hours, I was on the road, driving to the RAK Half Marathon. I had a 90-minute drive ahead of me. 

I’ve been training for ultramarathons and Ironman races for a while now, but this race was a little different. I was headed to the start line with a nasty cold, jet lag, and way less prep than I would usually have put into a race plan. And to top it all off, I ran(pun intended) a little late and couldn’t do the full warm-up as planned. 

With all of that being the way it was, I still had a goal: I wanted to conquer my personal best half-marathon time and finish the race in under 1 hour and 40 minutes. So blocked nose, migraine and all, there I was waiting for the starter pistol to go off. 

1 hour 39 minutes and 25 seconds later, I crossed the finish line. I’d done it! Ok, maybe this is dramatic. It IS dramatic.

I hit my goal. This had been my steppingstone goal – the little goal that I wanted to hit first to allow me to move into the rest of my fitness goals for the year. It’s almost something that was weighing me down – not letting me progress on to the next goal. 

Could I have completed the race in better time without the cold, the jet lag, and with all my prep and training in place as usual? 


But the question is: How often do all the circumstances in life line up to give you that perfect final outcome? 

What Made My Mission Possible? 

If I had to put my finger on the one thing that allowed me to conquer my goal and hit a new personal best at the race, it would be this: Habit formation. 

Allow me to explain. 

My running journey began back in 2017 when I signed up for the Marathon des Sables, a 250km ultramarathon across the Sahara desert in Morocco. I signed up for the race and knew I had 6 months to go from where I was now to be able to run this ultramarathon. 

I started at Level 0: I could barely run a 10k race once a year. I had to build up to five back-to-back marathons in 5 days with the longest day’s run being 86km. 

So day after day, I trained. I started with half-running-half-walking 10 kilometers and then added 10-12% distance every week to my training regime. 

I still remember my first half marathon training run back then. It had taken me 3 hours to finish it and I’d run-walked it. 

Today, I’ve nearly halved my half marathon time. As for Marathon des Sables, about six months after I started training, I completed that race. 

To me, both of these accomplishments and all the others that lie ahead, boil down to that habit stack. The things you do day after day, week after week, towards your goals. 

And now, it’s time for me to do my favorite thing and pull parallels between the worlds of running and business. 

Next Level Business Habits 

A few years ago, we worked with any client that came our way and happened to need a Life Insurance policy. Today, as you may already know from some of my other content, we work with a very small, select group of clients only. This client is typically a High Net Worth or Ultra High Net Worth entrepreneur based in the UAE or the sub-continent. 

Back then, if you put one of today’s right-fit clients in front of me, I’d have been a little intimidated. I didn’t have much experience working with that type of client or rendering that level of service. 

What about them did I truly understand? Had I successfully served this kind of client before? Had I been able to uphold all my commitments to them? Had I read up enough on them? 

The answer was a resounding ‘No.’

But over the years, we built a few business habits to help prepare and position us to better serve our ideal client. 

For one, I started to increase my face time with clients who fit our ideal client profile. I asked for more meetings and made more business propositions for them. Initially, these meetings rarely ended in closed business – I was still learning about this client type, figuring out their problems and challenges, and how best to serve them. 

Eventually, we successfully served one client, and then two. Over time, our entire client base transformed to right-fit clients only. 

Was it uncomfortable to make this shift? Of course. All growth is. But here’s what was happening with every seemingly out-of-my-league meeting I booked: My comfort zone was slowly and steadily expanding. 

My Big Takeaway 

Four years ago, my pre-race anxiety would start days before a race. 

Were my shoes right for the terrain? Were my socks right? Had I planned to have enough water? Nutrition? I needed days to get in the right headspace to run a race. 

Today, I have none of that. I still need to prep for a race, of course, but there’s no anxiety attached to it anymore. And the anxiety didn’t just vanish one day. I chipped away at it slowly, one mistake, one training session at a time. 

I know what shoes don’t work because I remember how my feet felt after that run back in 2014 when I wore basketball shoes for a 10k run.  I know how much water I need because of that time I ran out. I know what kit is most comfortable for me when I’m running 100k in the heat because I’ve worn the wrong and the right kits in my many training sessions. 

Likewise, if I land a sudden meeting with a large, ideal client right now, I’m not going to stay up all night wondering if I’ll ask the right questions or how I should dress for the meeting. 

Now there’s excitement rather than anxiety and worry around the same prospects that a few years ago, would have kept me up all night. 

My big takeaway? 

Set massive goals, and then build the right habits to help you get there. Put in the miles, keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s what’s increased my chances of success both in business and on the track.  

Your turn now: What habit stacks are you building towards hitting your goals?

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