Why You Should Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
What is your comfort zone?
The comfort zone is a safe space, not a physical space but rather a mental concept that includes our familiar behaviours, routines, and actions. Being in your comfort zone means you operate in an anxiety-neutral condition and experience no risk or stress. It’s easy to fall into a routine, as you feel secure there is little desire to purposely take risks and make yourself uncomfortable. However, leaving your comfort zone is extremely beneficial for both personal and professional growth.
There are 4 stages in leaving the comfort zone that help your growth.
- Comfort zone – where you feel safe and in control
- Fear zone – you lack self-confidence, are affected by other people’s opinions, and find excuses in order to stay in your comfort zone
- Learning zone – you deal with problems and challenges, acquire new skills, and extend your comfort zone
- Growth zone – you realise your aspirations, set new goals, and live out your dreams
Stepping into the fear zone can be understandably daunting and anxiety provoking, however if you persevere, moving into the learning zone you gain new skills and deal with unknown challenges. The learning zone allows you to extend your comfort zone to include things that you saw as challenging before thus reaching the growth zone and expanding your ability to reach greater heights.
Of course, the comfort zone will look different for everyone, as will your readiness and ability to move throughout the zones. For example, knocking on a new neighbour’s door to introduce yourself may be far outside one person’s comfort zone, but for another person, it’s something they wouldn’t think twice about. Understanding your own boundaries will give you the awareness you need to find ways to challenge yourself.
The benefits of stepping outside your comfort zone
Makes you more productive
Constantly working within your comfort zone allows you to remain relaxed as you understand your tasks and responsibilities. Going slightly beyond your comfort levels can help stimulate your brain, help you learn new skills and even develop your creativity. Without the little anxiety that comes with new deadlines and expectations, you can remain complacent and slip into the habit of continuously doing the minimum required.
Challenging yourself by leaving your comfort zone and overcoming that bit of fear will make you feel more empowered afterwards. Being able to deal with situations and scenarios that make us uncomfortable, reminds us that we are stronger and more capable than we believe. This in turn gives us the confidence to step out of our comfort zone more readily in the future, knowing that we will be able to handle it. As you overcome more obstacles and challenge fears, your self esteem and belief in yourself increases.
Develop a healthy response to stress
Remaining within your own comfort levels means you avoid stress where possible. Taking small steps outside your comfort zone allows you to see small amounts of stress as a regular part of life and helps promote a healthier response to stress. By doing this, you can learn new coping mechanisms and techniques to manage stress and understand differences between healthy stress and unhealthy stress. This will be beneficial in both your personal and professional life, and helpful in all sorts of situations.
Helps you advance in your profession
Leaving your comfort zone will provide you with opportunities for growth in different areas of your professional life. It gives you the opportunity to expand your network and meet new people which could lead to employment opportunities, mentorship, chances for partnership or collaboration or future references. Stepping further beyond your comfort levels can also help you strengthen existing relationships with colleagues, making your working environment more enjoyable. Similarly, taking chances and pushing yourself to learn more can help you advance in your career. You may be eligible for promotion or simply be progressing at a faster pace and gaining more knowledge and skills.
You feel more excited and alive
Experiencing new things produces a rush of adrenaline and excitement that makes you feel more alive! Even small steps outside your comfort zone provides a sense of accomplishment and pride which in turn makes you feel better about yourself and the world around you. At the same time you are experiencing new things, new hobbies, habits, and ways of life that will help broaden your horizons and bring new energies and perspectives to your life.
Simple tips for leaving your comfort zone
Stepping outside of your comfort zone doesn’t need to be making big changes that terrify you, you can start small with something you feel capable of.
Think about areas of your life in which you wish to develop and certain qualities you would like to build on. This can help you figure out steps you can take to build up to your end goal. For example, if you want to become better at going out alone, you can start off by having a drink in a café, to going for a meal at a restaurant, to then going for a day or weekend trip somewhere.
Develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset refers to your attitude and perspectives on challenges and setbacks. People with a growth mindset believe their skills and abilities are not set in stone, that they can constantly learn and grow and that failures are simply opportunities for growth. This will help you push yourself and have the confidence to seek out new challenges and opportunities that make you uncomfortable.
Surround yourself with the right people. Find those who will celebrate your achievements with you and support you when things don’t work out right. People who challenge themselves to do better will be able to encourage you to do the same. Having the right people around you can be a great source of support.
Figure out your boundaries and take small steps. Get an understanding of your routines, comfort levels, and risk tolerance. You don’t need to throw yourself in the deep end, unless of course you want to, it’s okay to take small steps and go back to your comfort zone to recharge.
Step outside your comfort zone; even if you fail you will learn, grow, and succeed.