In a world brimming with opportunities, it’s all too easy to find comfort in the familiar, settling into routines that shield us from life’s uncertainties. But what if I told you that the true magic lies just beyond those cozy confines?
As Bob Goff put it, “If we only do what we’re familiar with, we might miss what we’ve been made for.”
The truth is, you are perfectly equipped to get your current results… but that’s about it. If you want bigger or more meaningful results in your life or business, you have to grow into the person who is capable of achieving them. By definition, growth means you’re in a new place – a place you’ve never been. A place where you might lack experience or be uncomfortable. And that is exactly where you need to be.
What Is the Comfort Zone?
The comfort zone is a psychological state that offers a sense of security and ease. It’s like a familiar old sofa that invites us to stay where we are. A realm of routines, habits, and situations where we feel in control and experience minimal stress or anxiety. In this zone, we navigate life with predictability, never inviting challenges that might disrupt our equilibrium.
And while it may seem that one’s comfort zone is a place of security, it actually hinders progress and makes us vulnerable to losing ground as the world marches on around us.
Why is it Hard to Leave your Comfort Zone?
Stepping away from your comfort zone is arguably the hardest thing you could do, filled with apprehension and resistance. While you might have a compelling vision and big goals, several factors conspire to keep you rooted within the boundaries of the known. Let’s explore what creates this comfort zone, and threatens to keep you stuck there.
One of the primary reasons why it’s easier to stay in your comfort zone is the prevalence of fixed habits in your daily life. Staying within your comfort zone means that your mind and body are conditioned to certain routines, making them second nature.
These routines create a sense of safety and predictability, reinforcing the belief that stepping outside of these habits might lead to discomfort or failure. As a result, you might find yourself hesitating to take risks or try new things, opting instead for the comfort of the familiar.
The Temptation of Comfort
Comfort, by its very nature, is enticing. It offers a haven from the pressures and uncertainties of the outside world, luring us into a state of complacency. As Isaac Newton taught us, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. This inertia holds us captive in our comfort zones, and the longer you stay where you are, the more daunting it can become to take risks.
A Fixed Mindset
The mindset plays a significant role in your willingness to step outside your comfort zone. A fixed mindset, characterized by the belief that your abilities and intelligence are static traits, can hinder your motivation to take risks. In this mindset, the fear of failure looms large, and you may avoid challenges that could potentially disrupt your self-perceived competence. On the other hand, cultivating a growth mindset helps you transform your perspective on challenges, seeing them as opportunities for learning and development.
Fear and Uncertainty
Fear is a powerful emotion that can hold you back from pursuing growth – whether it’s fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection, or even fear of success. While fear can be a powerful catalyst for change, more often than not, it paralyzes progress. Most humans instinctively seek safety and security, and the idea of the unknown is intimidating, so you’re left with the choice to choose the safety of your current comfort zone or the potential rewards of growth.
How do I Move From Comfort Zone to Growth Zone?
Stepping out of your current comfort zone requires courage and determination. But, as American author Neale Donald Walsch once said: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” So, let’s explore some practical strategies to help you navigate the path from the comfort zone to the growth zone.
Change up Your Daily Routine
Injecting some novelty into your daily life can force you to stretch outside your comfort zone. Don’t get stuck in a rut of the same old things; instead, do something out of the ordinary. Make a point to meet new people, pursue a new hobby, rearrange your office, or shake up your morning rituals.
By challenging the status quo, you create space for self-discovery and new ways of thinking. As you welcome new experiences into your life, you expand your horizons, gain new perspectives, and cultivate adaptability.
Take Small Steps
One of the best ways to step out of the comfort zone is to embrace the concept of kaizen: continuous, incremental improvement. Leaving the comfort zone doesn’t require giant leaps; rather, growth thrives on compounding benefits of gradual progress. So, start by setting achievable goals and taking baby steps.
This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, and you’ll be more likely to maintain focus and motivation. Remember, each step you take, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is a building block for your personal growth.
Ask Deep Questions
The quality of the questions you ask determines the quality of the answers you get, so dedicate time to explore your goals, dreams, and core values. What truly inspires you? What dreams do you wish to bring to fruition? What impact do you want to make? What do you want the people who matter most to you in life to say about you as a partner, a parent, a leader or a friend? Spend some time journaling your thoughts on these types of questions, and let it clarify your aspirations, and fuel your motivation.
Become Aware of What’s Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Start by recognizing the areas of your life where you have settled comfortably within the boundaries of familiarity. Recognize the patterns and routines that have become second nature, and acknowledge the situations where you tend to shy away from challenges and uncertainties.
Is there an opportunity you’re avoiding? Potential that’s underutilized? A dream that feels too big? Once you identify that it’s outside of your comfort zone, you gain the perspective you need to decide whether you will continue to let your comfort zone be a barrier, or if you’re ready to step out of it.
Get Comfortable with Discomfort
Cato, a Stoic philosopher from ancient Rome, would intentionally wear clothing that was considered odd or out of fashion in his society. It’s not that he was unaware or indifferent, it’s that he wanted desensitize himself to embarrassment and cultivate a sense of inner strength and independence.
In other words, he trained himself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Professional athletes also regularly push themselves to a place of discomfort, as does an actor auditioning for a new role. The more you practice feeling uncomfortable, the better you’ll become at continuing to stretch yourself.
Expand Your Professional Skill Set
Investing in yourself through learning new skills will build your confidence and prepare you to take on new challenges. Who is the leader you need to become to take your company to the next level? Take charge by trying something new like taking a workshop, practicing public speaking, taking online courses, or finding a coach or mentor.
The feeling of achievement and increased confidence that comes from learning new skills will positively impact your business and every other aspect of your life. You’ll witness not only professional success but also personal fulfillment and a lifelong commitment to learning.
Reframe Your Stress
Embracing stress as a catalyst for growth is a powerful mindset shift that can transform how you approach challenges. Instead of viewing stress as a negative emotion to be avoided, see it as a natural response to pushing beyond your comfort zone.
As stress begins to creep in, acknowledge it as a sign that you are pushing your limits and making progress. As you reframe your stress, you’ll recognize that you are becoming a better version of yourself and that growth is impossible without a little pressure.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
As Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
When you’re on a growth journey, you can’t take yourself too seriously, because pride is a killer of progress. There will be bumps and bruises along the way, and sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself and take it all in stride. Give yourself the gift of patience and self-compassion, acknowledging that growth is a process, and progress always makes it further than perfection. As you lead by example, your team will also be willing to take calculated risks, think more creatively, and learn from their mistakes.
Benefits of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to grow. Embracing discomfort allows you to break free from stagnant routines and discover hidden potential you never knew you had. It cultivates resilience, as you learn to adapt to new situations and overcome challenges, building your confidence and empowering you to tackle the next thing. Deciding to stay in your comfort zone may offer temporary solace, but the growth zone rewards you with exhilarating experiences, meaningful connections, and a fulfilled life.
“Be willing to step outside your comfort zone once in a while; take the risks in life that seem worth taking. The ride might not be as predictable if you’d just planted your feet and stayed put, but it will be a heck of a lot more interesting.” -Edward Whitacre Jr.
If you’re serious about business growth, get serious about personal growth. Your business can only grow as fast as you do. The good news is that life and business are both full of opportunities to stretch your comfort zone – you just have to be willing to do it. Embrace discomfort, be willing to make mistakes, and commit to the path of continuous improvement.
Don’t make excuses to stay where you are — you’re only missing out on your potential. Take it from the spiritual master Amit Ray who said: “When you cross your comfort zone, fear zone, learning zone and growth zone, you will enter into the zone of leadership.”
Is it good to be out of your comfort zone?
Absolutely! Stepping out of your comfort zone is the catalyst for growth and development. It opens up new opportunities, challenges you to learn and adapt, and builds resilience and confidence.
Embracing discomfort allows you to discover hidden strengths and talents, as well as develop a growth mindset. It enhances your problem-solving skills, creativity, and adaptability, leading to a more fulfilling and enriched life. It will be hard, but the payoff is worth it.
What is a person’s comfort zone?
A person’s comfort zone refers to a psychological state in which they feel at ease and in control, typically engaging in familiar behaviors and routines that don’t provoke feelings of stress or anxiety. It is a zone of familiarity, where actions and decisions are automatic and well-practiced, providing a sense of security and predictability.
However, when people decide not to leave their comfort zone, it becomes a barrier to personal and professional growth, as it limits exposure to new experiences and challenges.
When should you step out of your comfort zone?
Some signals that it’s time to step out of your comfort zone are if business growth is flat, or if you’re feeling personally or professionally stagnant. It can be prompted by a desire to achieve ambitious goals, experience new adventures, or overcome fears and limitations.
Whenever you feel a sense of complacency or a yearning for something more, it may be time to challenge yourself to step beyond the boundaries of the familiar and move forward to the next phase of your business and life.