In the warmth of our comfort zone, life feels safe and familiar. More often than we care to admit, finding the motivation to leave is hard. But the more we’re stuck in our comfort zone, the more opportunities we miss to fully immerse ourselves in the human experience. Learning how to get out of your comfort zone takes willpower and a change in mindset. Each step you take to expand your comfort zone leads to personal growth, learning, and success. Let’s find out what a comfort zone is, why it’s hard to leave it, and the steps needed to break through that bubble and find out what you are capable of.
What is the Comfort Zone?
Inside the comfort zone, people don’t typically engage in new experiences or take on any challenges. They only participate in activities that are familiar, making them feel “in control” of their environment. People stay in their comfort zone to avoid feelings of anxiety or stress and pain. Anything outside the comfort zone creates uncertainty, and uncertainty makes us feel anxious. Naturally, human beings are wired to avoid these feelings. This makes them reluctant to leave their comfort zone. After all, why should they? As comfortable as it seems, this safe bubble keeps people from personal growth and doing the things they want but don’t have the courage to do.
For example, staying in an unfulfilling job for years leaves you feeling burnt out and disengaged. Yet, it’s become your comfort zone. You know you’re capable of more, but venturing out and challenging your boundaries scares you because it involves uncertainty.
Why is it Hard to Leave Your Comfort Zone?
Finding the motivation to leave your comfort zone isn’t easy. Here are reasons why you may be hesitating to take the first step.
1. Fear and Uncertainty
In your comfort zone, everything is predictable, which makes you feel safe. For example, you know exactly what to expect when you take the same route to work every day. When you think of leaving or expanding your comfort zone, you’re met with uncertainty. And according to Psychology Today, uncertainty equals danger, which makes you fearful. So even when you know you’ve outgrown your comfort zone, fear holds you back from moving forward. For instance, you may hesitate to pursue a different career path because of a fear of failure.
2. The Temptation of Comfort
Even if we want to grow, the pull of the comfort zone is strong. Because it’s safe and easy, it’s natural for people to want to stay there. Yet staying there also means never moving forward and growing. As Dr. Margie Warrell explains, “growth and comfort can’t ride the same horse.” She explains that we often forget about the risk of not taking risks. In other words, you risk missing out on the life you have the potential to live.
3. A Fixed Mindset
When you have a fixed mindset, you convince yourself that you don’t have the necessary skills to do or accomplish something. This makes you less motivated to look for opportunities to grow and learn new skills. Instead, you use your skills as an excuse to stay in your comfort zone, making statements like, “I can’t do that” or “That’s not something I’m good at.” This mentality keeps you stuck in your comfort zone as a way to avoid challenges and hardship.
4. Fixed Habits
Successful behavioral change is difficult because our behavior is habitual. The more we repeat certain behaviors, the more we get stuck into fixed patterns. For example, waking up at 6 am every morning will be difficult at first if you’ve been following an irregular sleep schedule for years. Lasting behavioral change starts with a strong willingness to change.
How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
The best way to leave your comfort zone is to gradually expand it and find your optimal level of “good stress.” Increased performance is just one of the many reasons stepping out of your comfort zone is important. It also helps you find out your true potential, reach your goals, and live a more fulfilling life.
1. Do One Thing You’ve Always Wanted To
If you have a list of things you’ve always wanted to do but just haven’t gotten around to yet, you’re not alone. Many people have so-called bucket lists filled with meaningful experiences and goals they want to accomplish.
Challenge yourself by picking one thing you’ve always wanted to do and doing it. This can be anything from learning how to play the piano to learning a new language or running a marathon.
2. Take on a Fitness Challenge
Take on a 30-day fitness challenge like running or cycling. Fitness challenges not only expand your comfort zone but also improve your physical health and well-being. Studies show that regular exercise decreases the effects of stress on the body, lowering anxiety levels.
This makes it easier for you to try things outside your comfort zone, as one of the barriers to stepping outside of it is the feeling of anxiety that it triggers.
3. Change Up Your Routine
A routine built on good habits gives people stability and helps them get things done. But when someone becomes too cemented into their daily routine, they begin to feel like they’re running on autopilot.
Shaking up your routine with some spontaneity is one way to get out of that rut. For example, say you’re working remotely from the comfort of your home office every day. Change up your routine and try working from a cafe or a different place in your home a few times a week.
4. Expand Your Professional Skill Set
Comfort zones can get in the way of your professional growth. Getting too comfortable in a role you’ve outgrown, for example, can keep you stuck when you need to move forward in your career.
One way to leave your comfort zone is to learn new skills that give you a competitive advantage and make you more employable. Use your organization’s learning and development resources to upskill yourself with in-demand skills in your industry.
5. Choose a Fear, and Face it
You need to be brave to step out of your comfort zone. Being brave is not about eliminating fear but moving forward despite it. Choose one fear that’s currently holding you back and confront it. You can start with something small. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, practice speaking up more during work meetings, and join a local Toastmasters club.
6. Travel Somewhere New
Traveling is one of the best ways to step out of your comfort zone. It’s not only fun, but it’s also eye-opening. If you go to the same beach resort every holiday, choose a completely new destination next time you travel. Exploring a diverse environment, language, and way of life is one of the most rewarding experiences because it offers new perspectives and challenges your ways of thinking.
Travelling also exposes you to the natural wonders of the world and makes you gain a deeper appreciation for nature and the environment.
What Happens When you Leave Your Comfort Zone?
There are countless rewards waiting at the end of your comfort zone. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Increased Resilience
The more you expand beyond your comfort bubble, the more you strengthen your resilience muscles. Embracing uncomfortable situations over and over again builds mental strength. This helps you overcome obstacles in your personal and professional life with more ease and optimism. As change and uncertainty are bound to happen throughout your life, learning how to navigate them is a crucial skill.
If you stay in your comfort zone, you’ll never know what you’re really capable of. Once you push through the initial fear of leaving, you begin to step into your potential. Start by challenging yourself, being more spontaneous, and looking for opportunities to learn. However, we should look at self-actualization as a continuous journey rather than a destination.
3. A Boost in Self-Confidence
Self-confidence and comfort zones are directly correlated. This means that the smaller the comfort zone is, the less confidence you have in yourself and your abilities. The more you face your fears and challenge them, the more confident you will become. For example, facing your fear of public speaking will increase your confidence in two ways. It will make you a more confident public speaker, and it will boost your self-esteem. You’ll be proud of yourself for your achievement and your ability to take action despite your initial fear.
Key Tips When Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
Leaving your comfort zone will feel uncomfortable and intimidating at first. Let’s explore a few important tips that will make your transition easier.
- Have fun with it. Leave your ego at the door, and don’t aim for perfection. Instead, have fun, and rediscover the joy of experiencing new things.
- Reframe your outlook. Instead of imagining the worst possible outcome, how about you start imagining the best? Practice visualization techniques and feel the joy of achieving your goals.
- Celebrate each win. Acknowledge your progress, and celebrate your successes — big and small.
- Reduce overthinking. Overthinking stops you from taking action and turns everything into a worst-case scenario. Practices like mindful breathing can help reduce negative thinking and anxiety.
How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Start Living
Living life inside the comfort zone has its benefits: it’s safe, familiar, and less stressful. But as Nelson Mandela famously said, “There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Learning how to get out of your comfort zone leads you to the life you’re capable of living. Find what motivates you, and challenge yourself one step at a time.
Getting out of your comfort zone leads to your professional and personal development and transformation.
Article Credit: https://www.betterup.com/blog/comfort-zone