Endo Mastery

DECONSTRUCTING YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Every doctor gets accustomed to their practice being a certain way. For example, expectations on your team to perform at a certain level. But what happens when your expectations and comfort zone are limitations to your own growth?

DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING

It takes a lot of effort to get your practice set up the way you like. Once you have achieved an acceptable level of operational and financial success, it’s a great relief. The pressure is off, and each day develops a predictable routine. At the end of each month, you take home enough income to live well enough. Welcome to the comfort zone.

 

While the comfort zone feels like you’ve successfully passed through all the great hurdles of practice ownership, it’s very deceptive. It’s actually one of the riskiest stages of a doctor’s career. That’s because the comfort zone lulls you into a state of inertia, and you can end up being caught at that level for decades. Your comfort zone has become your greatest limiting factor.

Comfort zone limiting factors

In my view, there are 4 primary reasons why the comfort zone takes over your mind and limits your future potential:

  • The first reason is that you develop a motivation vacuum. Since the comfort zone is defined as having your needs fundamentally achieved, there isn’t anything external that is pushing you to keep moving forward. It is true that a certain percentage of people are naturally self-motivating, but most people are motivated responsively: we act more when we feel a need to address, rather than a want to pursue.
  • The second reason is that you become risk averse. If you have it made, why upset the apple cart? In the comfort zone, anything that has the potential to create a disturbance or disruption to the established routine is viewed with skepticism. Research shows that people tend to overestimate potential risks by double and underestimate potential benefits by half. That’s a recipe for saying “no” to things, even those that are a good bet.
  • The third reason is that you develop organizational habits. Every business, group or organization develops an internal culture around how things get done. In practices, doctors and teams get settled into a certain way of doing things. This occurs as a result of past training, inherited processes, or simply repetition. Once habits are established as the “norm” for the team, any change can be met with resistance.
  • The fourth reason is that you suppress your deserve level. Most doctors, once they are in the comfort zone, are doing well enough financially that they are probably the highest income earner in their extended family. Endodontics is a very rewarding career, even in the comfort zone. So, many doctors downplay and suppress their desire and belief that they deserve more because they already feel advantaged compared to most people.

Of the 4 factors listed above, organizational habits and deserve level are the most insidious. They can quickly sap you of any motivation you have and make steps to growth seem riskier and not worth it.

Deconstructing your mindset

Years in this mode of thinking progressively weaken you. As life goes on, your needs evolve but your practice becomes more fossilized around a lower-level comfort zone of the past. It’s not unusual for doctors who have been comfortable for many years to suddenly find themselves feeling frustrated, worried or unsettled:

  • I need to earn more income for my financial goals.
  • I need to take more time off for work/life balance.
  • I need to have more fun at work with less stress.
  • I need to modernize my practice and team.
  • I need to reconnect with my colleagues.

These are signs of responsive motivation (to emerging needs), and they are usually accompanied by risk concern (to the possible steps to resolution).

 

At some point, action will need to be taken because worry becomes stress, stress becomes anxiety, anxiety becomes distress, and distress becomes pain. The only question is at what point you decide to take action, and how effectively you find your new vision and path to future success.