There is a lot of evidence that talks about how stepping outside of our comfort zones is the best way to learn, grow and feel fulfilled. You try things you wouldn’t normally, it probably isn’t as bad as you think, you’ll feel more confident to do other things, you’ll get a buzz from it which will boost your self-esteem...etc etc.
So why do we find it so hard to take that step into the unknown? Well, it’s called a comfort zone because it’s comfortable. It’s nice and cosy, familiar. Like a big, all engulfing squishy sofa on a Saturday night; it’s hard to get up from. It’s predictable, we know where we stand and you don’t get many surprises. We are safe here. And safe feels good. No one likes to feel that their safety is being threatened. But what happens here is also predictable, lacks spontaneity and you pretty much know what you’re going to get. It can get monotonous.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I spend most of my time in my comfort zone and love it there. But I do challenge myself to push just north of that boundary every now and then. And what I find when I do is that I love it there and think ‘why did I not do this sooner!?’. I become impressed by myself and it motivates me to do more.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Taking small steps.
I have recently have been taking very controlled (ha!) steps outside of my comfort zone - it is scary and makes me anxious, but each time I do it, I get a little boost of happiness. I’ve been sitting on my new website for a while. It’s been there in the background (where it was safe and protected from eagle eyes). I knew I needed to post and share and circulate to the big wide world but I was terrified of what people would think, what they would say and if people would like it. Realistically, I knew it was ridiculous to have a website that no one knew existed. I was scared. Going public was outside my comfort zone. But with encouragement and feedback from a few close friends, I went for it. What was the worst that could happen?! And if people had things to say, great - I could use that as feedback to make it better.
So I closed my eyes and did it. And guess what?! It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was actually amazed with the kind and generous feedback, encouragement and words of support that I wondered what I’d been waiting for for so long. And you can do it too!
Taking this small step gave me courage and I was even a little bit proud of myself. It made me feel free and independent and brave enough to do more.
Going for it.
If you’re afraid of getting out of the zone or haven’t done so in a while, small steps are the way forward. It really doesn’t matter how small. Try something as small as a new route to the office or chatting to a stranger on the bus. See how it feels. If it wasn’t that bad, try something a bit bigger - volunteer for that presentation at work or sign up for a new gym class. Challenging your comfort zone doesn’t have to be drastic or expensive. Small things do work and you can start them tomorrow to add a little freshness to life.
Remember how it felt when you last did it.
When you were last out of your comfort zone? How did it feel? What made you go for it? What did you learn about yourself? Ask yourself these questions and decide where you want to go from there.