All About Your Comfort Zone And How To Step Out Of It
Whew! We made it through 2020. It wasn’t easy, but we preserved and pressed on. So here we are at the very start of a new year, hopefully better than the one we just left. The ways that 2021 can be better are too numerous to count, so in this post, I’m going to focus on one. Your comfort zone.
First I’m going to talk about what a comfort zone is, then the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and finally what can happen if you remain in your comfort zone.
What's A Comfort Zone?
Do you know that feeling you have when you’ve been doing something for a while and you’re completely secure in your knowledge about that thing and your ability to do that thing? There are very few surprises in relation to whatever the thing is, and you like it that way, because even if you’re miserable, you know what to expect. That my friends, is being in your comfort zone.
How Is Your Comfort Zone Holding You Back?
So, the thing that makes comfort zones feel like we’re giving ourselves a warm hug is that we think that we’re in control of what happens and since we feel like we know what to expect, we feel safe. Whatever the thing is or the environment is, it’s a known entity. We think that our comfort zone helps us to manage our stress before our stress manages us.
But the thing is, that’s how your comfort zone says “gotcha!” You’re in it, and your comfort zone doesn’t want you to leave. However, it’s important to leave your comfort zone regularly, because that’s how you continue to learn and grow throughout your lifetime.
Stepping out of that zone helps you build up your self-confidence which can lead to being happier.
Being in your comfort zone and staying there is keeping you from realizing and achieving what you desire in the bucket list of your dreams. Staying safely within your comfort zone keeps you from being challenged and you don’t have to rise to any new occasions.
Here’s 3 ways staying in your comfort zone is holding you back:
As I stated earlier, it keeps you from growing. When you are afraid of something, staying in your comfort zone keeps you from facing that fear. That fear then has a hold over you until you face it. Because fear is:
The sad thing about this is that often staying in the comfort zone means that you stay away from situations that would put you in a position of having to face the fear in order to overcome it.
For example, your fear of public speaking keeps you from taking a job that requires you to speak in front of others, even though it’s a step up on your career ladder.
Staying in your comfort zone can keep you from being happy. For instance, a person who struggles with self-confidence and self-esteem issues can’t expect that they’ll continue to grow unless they step outside of their comfort zone to address them. Stepping outside the comfort zone helps builds confidence, allowing the person to see themselves in a better light.
Studies have shown when you’re confident and have good self-esteem, you’re happier.
Staying in your comfort zone can make you feel trapped or stuck. Often our comfort zone keeps us repeating bad habits out of fear or complacency. You might want to be more active, run a marathon, feel less aches and pains and go on adventures. But to do any of these things means doing something that is outside your comfort zone.
So let’s look at the example of running a short marathon. It’s always been a dream of yours, but you procrastinate and make excuses why you can’t. You’re too out of shape. You don’t have time. You’re too old. But the real reason is because you are afraid to get out of your comfort zone and begin training with a trainer as it’s going to take a lot of work to prepare for the marathon. As a result, you continue to eat unhealthily, gain weight, lose muscle tone and put your dream on the back burner until eventually, your health becomes a problem.
When we stay in our comfort zone, we’re holding ourselves back from living a life we love, from being happy and from growing. We end up letting our fears rule our lives and settling for a life of mediocrity.
What's Wrong With Staying In Your Comfort Zone?
So, I’ve talked about why people stay in their comfort zones, because they feel safe, after all, the comfort zone is what’s familiar. But it’s also the place where most are dissatisfied with their lives.
When we stay in our comfort zone, we stay stagnant. We’re afraid to change for fear of what could happen. Our brains are trained to keep us safe so we stay in our comfort zone instead of facing the unknown.
Staying in our comfort zone though can cause problems as well. Here are 7 reasons why it’s wrong to stay in your comfort zone:
Not reaching your goals. If you stay in your comfort zone, you are less likely to follow through on reaching your goals because fear, procrastination, or any other excuse keeps you from taking action towards your goal.
Lack of growth. Staying in your comfort zone can keep you from becoming the person that you’re really meant to be. It keeps you stuck, never going forward and never growing and changing. You have a high chance of not achieving your goals because you’re stuck on doing things the same way you’ve always done them, even when you’re not seeing any results.
No or lost passion. Staying in your comfort zone makes it harder for you to discover your passion as over time, the predictableness eats away at your passion. Your passion can only be found outside your comfort zone.
Feeling left behind. Staying in your comfort zone means lack of growth. And lack of growth means that you’ll feel like you’re being left behind your colleagues, family or friends as they continue to progress in life and you’re stuck. They might have been behind you in the past in terms of life or career status but they stepped out of their comfort zone, and passed you by.
Settling for less. By continuing to live in your comfort zone, you push yourself to settle for less than you desire. You put your passion or things you love aside.
Poor health. Staying in the comfort zone can have a negative effect on one’s physical and mental health. Maybe you’re not going to the doctor like you should or you avoid going to the gym, leading to poor physical health. Feeling stuck and stagnant can lead to poor mental health.
Inflexibility. Staying in your comfort zone can lead to inflexible and set in your ways when you stick to your comfort zone. Life throws all kinds of things at you. You have to be ready to leave your comfort zone because that leaves you open to new possibilities. Which is important, because you never know where life may lead you.
Staying in the zone may feel comfortable but it’s wrong to limit yourself by settling for mediocrity.
4 Ways To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Now that we’ve talked about the dangers of remaining in your comfort zone, lets look at 4 ways to step out of it.
Be willing to take risks to develop yourself and your skills. Take that class, learn that language, apply for that stretch position. Even if you fail, you win because you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone.
If you’re wanting to step out of your comfort zone, but don’t know how, remember that all problems have multiple solutions. So, there may be more than one way of getting out of your comfort zone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s two ways that you can go – starting simple and take the easiest route or take the route that will provide the most progress even if it’s the hardest route.
Prime yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone by changing your environment. This can as simple as clearing your desk, painting your walls or moving your furniture. Or you can try taking your laptop to work in a different setting such as a restaurant or park. These small changes can help you get ready to make bigger changes.
Fight your fear of failing. Fear of failing has prevented many people from stepping out of their comfort zone. If you fear you will make a huge mistake or fail when you try doing something new, it can keep you paralyzed and stuck. Mistakes are an inevitable part of life, it’s okay to make mistakes. The trick is to not give up and to learn from them.
So there you have it, all about comfort zones and how to break free. It’s all about making time.
Let’s talk. How do you plan to step out of your comfort zone? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In