The Only Limits We Have Are Those We Place On Ourselves

November 9, 2017 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Ashley Bean photo



Jillian Haslam



‘I have stepped outside my comfort zone enough to know that, yes, the world does fall apart, but not in the way that you fear.’

Tan Le (Emotiv Co-founder)



The famed comfort zone


There is nothing quite like it, is there? It’s a comfortable place. A safe haven. It’s a comfort, a soft cushion. No risks, no nothing. It’s the reason a lot of people find themselves unable to wriggle free of its cushy captivity.


But it’s one of the biggest disservices you can do to yourself as a human being. Be born, grow up, get an education, land a job, raise a family, grow old. Die. Nothing out of the ordinary. Not even the eulogy. It will read normal – Timmy was a good family man, hard worker, etc, etc. Is that how you want yours to be crafted?


There are those who find no fault in leading an ‘ordinary’ life. I don’t mean to go save the world or to paraphrase the old cliché, find a cure for cancer (although that would be great!). No. By ordinary I mean the will to step outside of your comfort zone.


The regular, mundane life of routine is an injustice to your brain. Have you ever heard this saying?


‘The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves.’


There is a lot of truth in those eleven words


We all have our dreams, goals and aspirations in life. Which is a good thing as it gives us that impetus to keep moving forward and have something to look forward to. But how many of us really achieve what we set out to do?


You may not realise it but most times the reason you fail to cross those goals off your list is because – subconsciously – you may be placing mental hoops for yourself.


Sometimes, you may find yourself doubting whether you can achieve it – which is very human, mind you. But how can you know until you try?


Sometimes, you may subconsciously feel inadequate to do the things you want to do. But to paraphrase that classic line by James Allen, As a man thinketh, so is he, meaning thoughts become words; words become actions; actions become habits, yada yada yada, you know how it goes.


Other times, we may sabotage our own efforts as we near the finish line. Our mind may have conscious thoughts about what we want to achieve or who we are, but deep down, there is that niggling thought going against the conscious current and which makes all the difference.


Why am I telling you this again?


Many people are very much aware that they are capable of more. However, the human in us has them questioning themselves and their abilities to really achieve ‘it’. So, the moment they get a little comfortable in life, that desire to push harder for more is extinguished.


You get content with where you are, you get complacent and the incentive to get better is not there anymore. And even if it is, there are those perturbing ‘what if’s’, a key variable in the comfort zone equation.


These are normal, I do not deny that. But most people look at the what-if’s in a glass-half-empty lens as opposed to the glass-half-full one: dwelling on the negatives rather than looking at the positives.


In all truth, getting out of your comfort zone is no easy feat. The reason is because you have to, well, get out of your comfort zone and face the uncertainties beyond that comfortable bubble.


A scary prospect for most people, no doubt. But there are those who do it every day. Take Ed Balls as an example.


The lawmaker was asked by the BBC if he would love to take part in the 14th edition of the Strictly Come Dancing television show. Of all the things he has ever tried in his life, the politician has admitted that dancing has not been on his list of favourite pastimes.


But after consulting with his wife who told him turning it down would be bypassing an opportunity to not only learn to dance, but also to be on the best show on TV – never mind shedding a stone along the way – he had a change of heart. He also sought the counsel of Jeremy Vine, a former contestant, who told him that being on the show was one of the best experiences he – Vine – has ever had in his life.


Those two were all he needed to throw his dancing costume on. And from what we can gather thus far, he’s really put his back into it.


That is just one everyday example of an individual venturing way out of the realm of the territory they are used to on a daily basis.


Fortunately, you too, can get out of your comfort zone. And once you do, you will realise there was nothing comfortable about it at all. For it is this tiny little world that consumes you little by little.


But you will never realise it until you make that bold first step.


The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.’ – Benedict Cumberbatch


If you ever need enough spur in your life, try thinking about your life from the perspective of someone on their deathbed. I find this angle compelling enough to stir the action out of one. It is something Steve Jobs himself acknowledged when he said:


Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.’


The last thing you would want in your life down the road is to say those dreaded two words: ‘If only…’


As Reuters is keen to remind us:


Regret comes in two varieties: The things you did that you wish you hadn’t and the things you wish you had done but didn’t.’


Would you, in your elderly years, want to regret those actions you didn’t take because you were too afraid to venture out of your comfort zone?


So then, how can you summon the courage to get out of it?


Below, we suggest a few ways.


#1 Know thyself


I believe Socrates said this? (Gnothi seauton)


In the context of our post, every one of us has their own general fears that hold them back – could be the fear of failure, could be the fear of success. Yup! Sometimes there is a fear to become the greatest person you possibly could be. The ability is there no doubt, but can you and would you be willing to unlock it?


The thing is, you first need to get to grips with your fears. What’s holding you back? That’s a good enough starting point to kick things off.


#2 Have the tough conversation


Tim Ferris famously wrote:


A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.’


How many uncomfortable conversations have you recently had with yourself? And why not? Social media distractions? The inability to unplug from the tech and information sources that have infiltrated our lives?


Not distantly related from the first point, having those tough conversations with yourself is a silent place to go. A silent place each of us needs to go to every so often if they are to realise their true potential.


#3 Change the mindset


As we previously mentioned, out thoughts can sometimes hold us back from achieving what we want or heading in the direction we would like to, but are really afraid to take.


Ergo, changing them is key.


We can’t control people or events but we CAN control what we choose to think about.


#4 Face your fears head-on


Sometimes, the best way to conquer our fears is to confront them cold-turkey. Like grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns and wrestling it to the ground.


Sometimes, we find that we are afraid of the criticism that may be levelled against us. We fear that we will disappoint others, but hey, you are human. Not a droid made to do things to perfection. Humans are prone to error, and whether you fail or not, further down the line, you will say you did do it.


The thing about overcoming one’s comfort zone is that we look back at those moments fondly (believe it or not) – not with regret; not with the ‘what if?’ But fondly.


#5 Do something that scares you every day


You may have heard about the technique of summoning the courage to work outside your comfort zone. It’s a maxim accredited to Eleanor Roosevelt (former US First Lady) when she quipped:


Do one thing every day that scares you.’


However crazy that sounds, you would be amazed at just how powerful that could be to realising your full potential as a human being. You need not do it each and every day as such. You can start out with one little thing each week and move on from there. See what good things come out of it!


To sum it up, always remember these words of wisdom and scribble them down somewhere:


Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end. Because in the end, it shows you a whole new world. Make an attempt.’

Manoj Arora (From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom).





Jillian Haslam

Jillian Haslam has a 20+ year career in Banking and who is now a successful business entrepreneur, a Public Speaker, an Author and an award winning Philanthropist.

Jillian is a very popular and sought after speaker with both Corporates & SME’s. She has extensively spoken on myriad topics at many fora and with some of the leading international organizations such as RBS, Barclays, Bank of America, McDonalds, University of Cambridge, Kings College London and many others. Her second book “The Irrepressible Mind” provides unique insights into personal and professional life.

Her success story has been extensively covered by the media. To read press articles and to listen to television/radio interviews, please visit

To find out more about Jillian and her Speaking activities, Live Workshops and Publications go to

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