It’s a quote that many people have said time and time again to push people beyond their comfort zones to great effects. But more often than not, whenever examples of confidence spring up, you and I only tend to see the end results. We see the final results of people’s efforts but not the efforts themselves.
There are other aspects that are hidden from us as well. Why should you be stepping out of your comfort zone in the first place? Why is it dangerous for you to leave things as they are?
When you begin to understand why your comfort zone can be dangerous and how to step out of it, you can push yourself to new heights and potential.
What Is a Comfort Zone?
Before getting into details, you need to know what the comfort zone is in the first place((Psychology Today: The Comfort Zone)). As the name implies, this is a zone or position in which you feel comfortable. As long as you stay in this area, you’re not going to feel pressured, anxious, or stressed. At first glance, it’s a good position to be in on the surface.
Why Is Staying Inside of a Comfort Zone Bad for Us?
So why is it so bad for you to be staying in that zone? Well, one thing that I’ve come to learn about improving myself is that in order to improve, it’s essential that you embrace fear and change in your life.
The issue with fear and change is that, when we are comfortable, we are less inclined to make those changes and lean on our fear. In the end, your life will begin to stall and remain unchanged.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem all that bad. However, with life, change tends to find a way. Whether it’s through something large like the coronavirus to something smaller like you wanting to be a better partner or financially secure, these shifts come with risks and changes.
And depending on how much we are in our comfort zone will determine how much we resist those changes, even in situations where those changes are very good for us.
What Holds Us Back from Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone?
As I’ve hinted at a little bit, our resistance can stem from many places. That said, the most common ones can be boiled down to three fears:
- Fear of change
- Fear of failure
- Fear of the unknown
These fears are all manageable, and by learning about them, you can start to break them down in a way that works best for you. Here is what you can do for each one.
Fear of Change
As the most generalized fear of the three, this fear tends to mask the other two. You’ll be able to tell because this fear often leads to thoughts like:
- This task is too big.
- Why me?
- I can’t do this alone.
- I don’t know where to start, so I won’t do it.
As you can tell, if you have a fear of change, you’ll justify it in order to procrastinate on whatever it is that you need to be doing. You would rather keep things the way they are than put in work and take risks.
It’s a natural feeling that you’ve likely been leaning on ever since you were a child. It’s been ingrained in you. What matters now is that you work on changing it.
Fear of Failure
Going past fear of change, perhaps you remain in your comfort zone due to a fear of failure. I’m sure that many of you can relate as this particular fear can be instilled in various ways:
- A childhood event or upbringing can cause you to internalize damaging mindsets.
- You are a perfectionist or have perfectionist tendencies.
- You over-inflate failures in your head, whether they are in reality big or small.
- You are masking true confidence with false confidence when it comes to your personality and abilities.
Getting into more detail, fear of failure((SELF Research Centre: Fear of Failure: Friend or Foe?)) can be described as a lack of confidence in yourself and your current abilities to complete a task or goal.
Fear of the Unknown
The last common fear is the fear of the unknown. From a logical standpoint, this makes sense, too. Life is a mystery, and we have no idea where it’ll take us. Instead of you seeing this as a gift, you may use that as a reason to be paranoid and to be afraid whenever there is something that would disrupt your way of life.
This disruption can be something major like a job loss or a loss in the family to something smaller like your partner wanting to spend more time with you or you getting into better shape.
How you react depends on who you are, but it always comes back to you resisting change out of worry that your life could be different or, at best, better.
How to Break out of the Comfort Zone
Now that you have an understanding of the potential fears that stand in your way, you need to learn to break them down. Regardless of what fear you have, the methods to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone are relatively similar. I say relative because how people choose to act in order to succeed and strive in life varies from person to person.
There is no specific method that you need to take to push your comfort zone. What matters is that you do it in a way that makes sense for you.
1. Look at Your Habits and Challenge Them
Habits are things that you pick up from various life events. Some habits stem from family and friends, while other habits stem from your past achievements. Pay attention to the particular habits that have led you to past achievements.
These achievements can be big or small, but they remain with us so long as we exercise them. For example, consider walking. Walking was something we built a habit towards, and now we can do it without fail so long as we’re able to use both our legs.
One way that you can push out of your comfort zone is to look at your habits and begin to challenge them. If it’s a bad habit or a habit you want to break, replace it with a better one and reinforce it. For pre-existing good habits, find new and exciting ways to push yourself.
For example, say you love working out and are in great physical shape. One way to break out of your comfort zone of your otherwise solid exercise routine is to try a different exercise or take a new class they’re offering at the gym. Or maybe you can give yourself a goal to prepare for a marathon.
In either scenario, this can present great challenges and change your life. When working out, you may not be so focused on cardio. On the other hand, if you’re breaking a habit, the challenge is starting a new one and implementing it.
2. Remind Yourself of Key Aspects of Change
Another way to break your comfort zone is to remind yourself of some key aspects of change. Change is a journey that you must take if you want to succeed. Part of that change is having lessons and learning from those lessons.
These lessons can stem from failures and successes. Some examples of these are:
- If you want to change, you’ll need to trust yourself.
- The process matters just as much as the results you’ll get in the end.
- Effort in change is what matters. Even if you fail, you at least put in the effort, and that makes all the difference.
As many others have said before me, even if you fail, it’s not a complete failure unless you didn’t learn something. Learning is all a part of life, and walking away with a lesson can be just as rewarding as achieving something.
3. Experiment With Various Methods
As mentioned, there are so many ways you can step out of your comfort zone, and there is no right or wrong method. Every successful person has their own method for success and breaking out of their comfort zone. It’s key that you do the same.
While you don’t know which method is the best one for you, that’s kind of the point. Yes, it can be scary, but I’d argue it’s a reason to be excited. If one method doesn’t work, you’ve got dozens of others to get excited about and to apply in your life.
The idea that one of these methods can lead you to a new and exciting life filled with more fulfilment and satisfaction is thrilling. It’s human nature that you would want to be achieving more and getting more out of life.
The question is what kind of methods are there? Well here are some brief examples:
Consider What’s Beyond Your Comfort Zone
When you have an idea of what the change looks like, you can be motivated to make that vision a reality. Try writing down three new things you would like to try. Tackle one of them each month. By starting small with things you are interested in, it will motivate you to step out more often.
Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Always wanting more and never settling can seem scary for those in their comfort zones, but I’d say this is how you ought to live your life. Always strive to make changes, big or small. Will the changes be uncomfortable for a time? Probably. But after some time, it will become your new normal, and you won’t even remember the discomfort that came before.
See Failure as a Mentor or Teacher
I hinted at this as lessons can stem from failure. By training yourself to see failure as a teacher before experiencing failure, the experience will be easier for you. In an instant, you reframe yourself as a student, someone who is learning the right way to being more successful.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. This quote makes more sense once you understand what your comfort zone really is and look at what comes when you begin to make changes in your life.
And the glorious thing about comfort zones is that it is never too late to stretch them and to break them. You can begin to make small changes in your life today and watch over time as they transform your life into something better. All you have to do is have a plan, adopt a method, and take action.