By and large, stepping out of your comfort zone can seem very unnatural and difficult to do.
From my personal experience, I know how much of a struggle it can be to leave the security and predictability of your comfort zone for some uncertain future outside. But there is quite a lot that can be gained from venturing out into the unknown and away from what you have been used to.
It is important to step outside your comfort zone because it prepares you for change which is, more often than not, unexpected and inevitable. It makes you view the world with a broader lens and helps you proffer more creative solutions to the problems around you.
For many, the comfort zone is a strange concept that needs an explanation. It is, therefore, necessary to know what exactly qualifies as a comfort zone, why we should leave it and how we can manage that. To find out about these issues and more, read on.
What Does It Mean to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone?
Before we go into what it means to get out of a comfort zone, it is necessary we, first of all, understand what a comfort zone is.
In essence, a comfort zone is a place, be it a job or a particular way of doing things, which a person is used to. It is often a good space or time where a person knows they are safe and comfortable because there are no surprises or uncertainty in it.
Take, for example, a job where the pay is just good, the tasks are monotonous and no longer challenging, the co-workers are friendly and caring, the boss is personable and kind, and job security is guaranteed.
That kind of job is a good example of a comfort zone because it is exactly the kind of place a person would want to stay forever.
It makes common sense to stay in the kind of job I have just described, does it not? It may even seem unwise and downright stupid to leave such a job, especially for an uncertain future.
The truth, however, is that such a position can keep you ensnared in one place when there are greater things you could be doing instead. In that sense, a comfort zone is a trap of stagnancy.
Man naturally seeks out comfort and this is why it would seem very unnatural for a person to leave a comfortable place for someplace else. It should be noted that the human brain does not like change because it takes a lot of brainpower to manage.
If a new place or activity does not immediately give the promise of surpassing the reward of what a person is used to, many people will not even give trying it out a second thought.
They would reason that since they have it good where they are, there is no point in finding something that could be better. This is reflected in the popular saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
It might start out looking right but rarely remains like that; sooner or later, such a place becomes small, cagey, and restricting. In that sense, it can be compared to a womb: as you grow and develop, it becomes much harder to ignore how tight the space is getting.
At that point, many begin to feel the pressures to either expand or leave the space altogether but some do not consider this at all because of the uncertainty that exists outside. Doing things you are comfortable with is not all bad, insofar as you continually work to expand it.
A friend of mine recently left a job that, upon employment, he had been very excited about. He had felt so honored to have been given that opportunity that it took a prominent part of every discussion we had at that time.
Two years down the line, he began to complain that the job no longer challenged him and it was becoming a routine. I understood then that while he had started the job with excitement, the excitement had since worn off and he was now too comfortable.
Such a space could be very blinding too. People who stay in it hardly have an actual sense of how the world they live in operates.
This is partly deliberate and even conscious because it is a constant choice to stay in your safe bubble. But this can have very serious implications as such people likely live an unsustainable life.
In any case, a comfort zone that is not being expanded, however long it lasts, is a temporary thing. Eventually, the proverbial bubble will burst and it will be time to face reality and be confronted by the brutal truth that is real life.
Remember, change is inevitable. That a comfortable place is not everlasting should prompt a person to take a special interest in moving out of it.
Learn to take risks. Risk-taking is a fundamental part of growth, development, and knowledge-building. There are some things that you can never know unless you take the risk to find out for the betterment of yourself and others around you.
Risk-taking can also teach you a lot about the kind of person you are. You will never know your full potentials until you take yourself out for a spin, so to speak.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can mean trying out new things that you may never have thought to experience. These things, whatever they may be, can turn out to be something you enjoy but would have never done had you not ventured out of what you are used to.
Your life can be all the richer because of the new things you try. Do not restrict yourself by writing off certain activities or people. You can never really know what you would enjoy except you give yourself a chance to find out.
Stepping out does not have to be as radical as leaving a job or moving away from a familiar city. It could be as simple as trying out a new activity, making new friends, or visiting places you have never been, even within a place you are familiar with. You do not have to rush the process either – make sure to take your time.
A lot of us assume that outside our safe space exists a world of danger and hostility. But you will quickly find as you venture out that the opposite is likely the case.
The world is a beautiful place worth enjoying, yes; there are a lot of perils and suffering, but there is even love and enjoyment.
Doing something as life-altering as going out of your comfort zone can be very scary, make no mistake about it.
As you venture out, you will feel a constant temptation to run back in and cover yourself with the snug familiar blanket of what you are used to but doing so will deny you the rich and diverse life the world has to offer.
Life is there for your enjoyment and development; it will be very unfortunate if you do not take advantage of it.
Why Is It Important to Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone?
There are so many reasons why you should get out of your comfort zone, they include:
1. It Makes You Better Prepared For Change
We have all heard these sayings: “the only thing that does not change is change itself”, “change is the only constant” and “change is inevitable”. Well, these are truths to live by. It is however not easy to deal with change. For many people, in fact, change can be a very difficult thing to manage.
This is because our body, especially the brain, does not like change. Our brains would prefer we go through each day with as much automated set of actions as is possible as against actively spending brainpower on interrogating a new set of actions.
This is why we can mindlessly brush our teeth, take our baths or go to the toilet when we are pressed at night without really thinking about it. Change forces our bodies to do some actual work.
By challenging ourselves and doing things that we are not used to, we are teaching our bodies how to be prepared for the changes that will be out of our control.
If you started making an effort to interact with unfamiliar people, for example, it will be much easier on you when you have to move away because of a job, school, or something outside your control.
Challenging yourself makes you stronger and better able to adapt to the world around you.
No longer will you be afraid of what would happen if things do not go as you have planned because you know that come what may, you will emerge like a phoenix; even better than before. That self-assurance alone can make you invincible – a force to be reckoned with.
2. Personal Growth And Development
We are a sum total of what we know and have experienced throughout our life, it, therefore, follows that the more you know, the better you are as a person.
That is to say, staying in one place stunts your growth and development. Your knowledge base and range will be limited if you stay in a safe bubble all your life. In some situations you are faced with, you might find yourself completely useless and in need of external help.
Remember that the world is not your puppet show and you do not control everything that happens in it but you can control your reaction to it, and to react properly and effectively to everything that is thrown your way, you have to be well versed in operations of the world. Then and only then, can the world become your oyster.
By pushing yourself to do the things you would ordinarily not do, you learn a lot about your capacity; what you can take and what you cannot. Learning about yourself is a vital part of personal growth and development.
Pushing yourself can teach you new and interesting things about yourself which you can apply to your life, job, relationships, and what have you. By learning about yourself, you can pinpoint those aspects of your person and character that you need to work on to become an improved person.
For example, if from learning a new language you find that you are a very impatient person, you can work on being more patient by making conscious attempts to remain calm and collected when faced with aggressors or situations that would ordinarily bring out that side of you. This can, in turn, be very beneficial to you in the long run.
If you are hanged around embarking on your personal development journey, here are tips to kickstart your personal development plan.
3. It Helps You Discover New Love And New People
It allows you to discover new things that you love which you might never have discovered had you not ventured out in the first place.
You can also meet new and interesting people who may turn out to be very instrumental in your life and well-being.
Important friends and acquaintances can be made out of what you are used to or the circle you have built and gate-kept over the years.
Recently, I started tutoring kids in an effort to try new things. Tutoring has been an experience that I would never have thought I would be good at.
Before I started, I did not even think that I would like it very much. I however found the experience to be great.
I discovered that I learned better when I put others through a topic and that is something I think I can apply to other aspects of my life.
I was surprised to find the activity both exhilarating and life-altering. I learned about myself and met new people along the way.
4. It Improves Your Creativity
A person’s creativity is greatly affected by their knowledge and what they think is possible. Stepping out of your comfort zone can change how you approach creativity and innovative thinking.
If you are into something that requires creativity, it is highly recommended that you challenge your views by experiencing a world you have never seen before. It would get that creative pot boiling again with a fresh intensity.
I can personally attest to how taking on tutoring and other new activities have improved my creativity. I now think of better and improved ways of doing things.
The interaction that I have had with people I have met along the way has also changed my perspective and as such, the way that I approach things has been altered for the better. It is a completely refreshing and worthwhile experience.
5. It Grooms You For World Domination
You cannot expect to rule the world from the safe bubble you have created for yourself. You need to be diverse and well-versed in dealing with just about anything that comes your way.
By challenging yourself, you boost your confidence in your ability. You likewise have an accurate sense of what the world is like and that helps you to make wise and valuable evaluations and judgments.
You are also able to compete with the rest of the world. Believe it or not, a lot of people have since left or expanded their comfort zone. This is why the world is so advanced and fast-paced. To succeed in this age, you must be able to match what the rest of the world is doing; otherwise, you will be playing catch-up.
Once you tackle a challenge that you formerly thought you could not, you will find it much easier to face what comes next. Your confidence will be boosted because of what you have done in the past, and that will give you the platform to launch onto even loftier heights.
People who are willing to leave their comfort zone are also much soft after in the labor market. They earn more money and get promoted faster than does that stay in their a comfortable and non-challenging place.
They are more goal-oriented and determined to succeed. They are likewise more respected in their chosen career and are less likely to quit because of dissatisfaction and exhaustion.
Stepping out of your comfort zone also opens your eyes to life-changing opportunities. You may feel like you are doing so well in a job, but there may exist even greater opportunities just outside.
Do not let comfort conceal the opportunities that are before you. Do not convince yourself that there is nothing better for you out there – there is.
You may tell yourself that you are incapable of weathering the storm the brews outside. All these will only keep you entrapped in a prison of your making.
What Are Examples Of Comfort Zone?
A comfort zone is the creation of our minds and emotions. They are niche spaces meant to make us feel better and safer.
In these spaces, we know what to expect and that can serve as a respite from the otherwise chaotic mess that is the world we live in. It often makes use of our habits, hobbies, and routines and hardly ever involves any risks or stress. Below are some examples of comfort zones that exist.
1. Geographical Comfort Zones
A comfort zone could have a geographical location. For example, it could be a city where a person has lived most or all of their life.
They know this place like the back of their hand – they know its streets, its corners, how it smells in every season, and where to get the best cup of coffee. More importantly, they cannot imagine ever leaving that city for someplace else.
It could even be smaller, comprising of just a section of your street, your workplace or school, your place of worship, and where you buy your groceries from.
If you are not interested in venturing outside these places, then you have created a geographical comfort zone.
2. Professional Comfort Zones
In the same vein, it could be professional – a particular job or business that you have refused to leave.
Perhaps, from years of experience, a person may know the ins and outs of a job and be very familiar with all that can happen in it.
They may therefore be unwilling to try their hand at any other kind of business because of the uncertainty that follows such a move.
Again, it could be further restricted. I know of a man who had stayed in a particular position for many years.
When his colleagues were going for promotional examinations, he would refuse because he did not feel very confident in his ability to excel in another position.
He was comfortable in that job description and was turning down promotions or other job offers that would mean doing something new and different.
3. Personal Comfort Zones
A personal comfort zone is peculiar to an individual who refuses to explore things that would make them more visible.
Perhaps, you prefer to remain silent in public spaces, even when you know the answer to the teacher’s question or can proffer a solution to the issue at hand.
You know you have put yourself into a neat little corner when you cannot get yourself to utter a word in public. You may have convinced yourself that you are just one of those people who are meant to exist in the shadows.
It can also manifest itself in a person’s unwillingness to consider making changes in their life, no matter how sensible or necessary those changes may be.
I have a friend who has a habit of sticking to one brand. Except the manufacturers of that product stopped production or the business folded up, he would remain a loyal customer. He did this even when the quality of the brand he patronizes is clearly inferior to the competition.
4. Social Comfort Zones
Keeping a close circle of friends and never letting it grow past what you can manage is another example. You should not run a tight ship with the relationships you have.
In such circumstances, you will find that you do not or cannot interact with new people or people that are too different from you. You may find that you come off as unfriendly and unsociable.
This is because you are afraid of the risks meeting new people could pose to life as you know it.
Refusing to seize new opportunities is another indicator. No matter how brilliant or foolproof the opportunity might seem, a person who is afraid to challenge themselves or to interact with people will never consider it.
They would prefer to tell themselves that the opportunity is not suitable for them or that it would turn out bad. This is all in avoidance of the risks involved in taking that step.
It is not particularly wrong to have a space where you feel safe. It becomes a problem when we spend every available time there or when we get too comfortable with it.
The problem is in spending all available time there – it takes away from the time that we could have spent discovering valuable things outside.
Why Am I Scared To Get Out Of My Comfort Zone?
1. The Luxury That Your Comfort Zone Provides
Do not underestimate how comfy it can get. If you have ever been under a warm blanket on a very cold morning, you can appreciate just how hard it can be to leave a comfort zone.
I mean, this is your safe space where nothing can go wrong – you have security and predictability and your ego and emotions are protected. Do not forget that this is also a place where a person feels the happiest.
So, it can be really scary and difficult to step out of such a space, especially into a world where you will likely feel out of place. This is why it may seem crazy and illogical to leave.
2. The Risk Involved
Venturing out of your safe space can seem very risky; especially because it is a complete departure from the risk-free time your comfort zone affords you.
For example, the thought of quitting your perfectly good job to start something of your own can leave you considering all the chances you are taking.
You are, of course, going to wonder if you really have the resources to successfully pull off entrepreneurship; you are going to consider the success rate of such a venture, and then you are going to weigh all that with the future that your current job is creating for you. In the end, the risk involved might lead you to abandon that thought.
3. The Fear Of Failing
Closely related to risk is the ever-present fear of failing. You may feel assured of success when it is something that you know well. Even when you fail, it does not feel colossal or significant.
But one of the things you consider while the thought of pushing yourself pops up is if you can succeed. This however puts you at a disadvantage because people who stay in their comfort zone hardly ever have confidence in their ability to excel at new and different things. Failing can be a very scary prospect and so, many people never leave their safe space.
Fear should not be a deciding factor. Being able to leave is far more important than whether you succeed outside of it. You may experience some failures but those will only help you achieve even greater success in the long run.
4. The Fear Of Change
People who are suspicious of change often value stability and predictability and try all in their power to avoid it.
As such, they prefer to remain in the box they have put themselves. Change can make a person feel out of control and that can be very scary.
The interesting thing is that change is inevitable. Whether or not you want it to, there is a likelihood that you will experience change, sooner rather than later.
The question is if you would be able to adapt when said change occurs. Leaving your comfort zone prepares you for the changes that are bound to happen because the more you get used to it, the better equipped you will be to deal with it whenever and however it occurs.
5. The Health Implications
Everyone wants to lead a stress-free life and being comfortable might seem like a great solution but it is not. The thought of going through stress when you step out of what you are used to can deter a person from doing so.
Many of us are aware of the health implications stress can cause in our body but challenging yourself actually has some health benefits of its own.
By leaving what you are used to, you challenge your brain to be more active and this can improve your ability to think quickly and deeply as well as make effective strategies. All these help boost a person’s confidence which in turn improves their mental and emotional well-being.
Whatever the reason for remaining in your comfort zone may be, know that there are a lot more reasons why you should attempt to step out of it. Do not let fear hinder you from challenging yourself and living a richer life.
Trust me, it is going to seem like you are doing the wrong thing; friends and family may not understand why you are making such a move, but leaving all that restriction, is going to turn out to be the best decision you ever made.
Is It Hard to Move Out of Your Comfort Zone?
It is not hard to move out of your comfort zone. However, moving out is going to seem very difficult, make no mistake about it.
You are going to constantly wonder, as you make the move if it is not better to stay where everything makes sense. There are going to be logical reasons why you should stay.
A lot of the difficulty faced while trying to leave is from the mind. Remember, your comfort zone is a creation of the mind, so it is not going to let you leave without putting up a fight.
Start by taking simple steps. Before I went out to tutor kids I did not know, I practiced with my younger siblings and learned a lot in the process. Of course, it was different with other kids but I gathered a lot of courage from starting small.
I also prepared hard. I did not think that these kids were going to challenge anything I said, but I wanted to really make a difference. It was not just enough that I was doing something I had never done, I also wanted to do it well.
How Can I Get Out of My Comfort Zone?
Even though your body is built to love comfort and pleasant things, there are some things you can do to ensure you get out of such a restrictive place. These things have psychological effects and are meant to ease the mind out of its creation, that is, the comfort zone. They include:
1. Become More Self-Aware
When you become more self-aware, you can better appreciate your strengths and weaknesses and this would reduce the negativity that would have discouraged you to be bold and daring.
Self-awareness will help you make more precise evaluations of the future, as well as, give you a better estimation of your values and abilities.
Overwhelming pessimism can have damning effects on a person’s ability to take initiative or successfully bring a dream to fruition, for that matter.
You can become more self-aware by testing the waters ever so slightly, so to speak. By making a gradual progression away from your comfort zone, you are convincing your mind that leaving the comfort zone altogether will not be the end of the world.
Let’s say there is a particular place you cannot leave; making a list of places you could move to would be a step in the right direction. A further step would be to visit these places and get a feel of living there.
Self-awareness also involves being more intentional about the things you say, do and listen to. Even what you eat matters. Good practices are very important in actualizing your goals and becoming more assertive and confident. Engaging in low-stress activities also pushes us a little further outside the confines of our comfort zone.
2. Take More Risks
Risks help to challenge the mind and make it more vibrant and active. Being comfortable and living a risk-free life does not help your mental faculties grow and develop.
Even your emotional growth is stunted when you refuse or are unable to come out of your shell. Doing things that are challenging, such as taking risks, keeps a person alive and bubbling.
This is why even elderly people who have worked for most of their lives and are retired, are advised to engage in activities that would challenge them a bit.
Risk is essentially the possibility that a plan will not go the way that you would like it to.
It is more or less the fear of losing control and can therefore be tackled by embracing the fact that you cannot be in control of everything. Taking more risks is a sure way to leave your comfort zone because it is completely antithetical to staying in a comfort zone.
3. Become Less Afraid Of Failing
Once you choose to stop letting fear decide whether you do something or not, you will find that you are more liberated to leave your comfort zone and explore other options.
Moreover, there is a lot that can be learned from making mistakes and failing. Failure is a natural part of succeeding so there is no point dreading it.
Learn to take initiative; if they succeed, fantastic; if they do not, then learn from them. Making mistakes is a natural human trait and the benefit is that you learn a lot about yourself and grow wiser and stronger – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
4. Create Another Personality
We have established that branching out of what you are accustomed to can be very scary. Sometimes it could even feel like however hard you try, you just cannot do it.
If that is the case, thinking of yourself as another person may do the trick. When you create another personality, you are sort of reinventing yourself; you take control and determine the kind of person the new you is going to be, give yourself a new name, and live an alternate life outside your comfort zone.
This is effective because an alternate personality is often the direct opposite of the person you are; it is the person that you secretly wish you could be. Just thinking of yourself in that light can bring out the boldness you need to leave your comfort zone.
5. Get Yourself Used To The Uncomfortable
Doing things that you would not ordinarily do – because they are uncomfortable, can help you more conformable to the idea of change.
It stands to reason that whatever is not comfortable to you, is not in your comfort zone, so striving to do uncomfortable things already puts you out of your safe space.
Try your hands at things you know you do not like or that you think you cannot do. This challenge will help you overcome the fear of not being good enough.
For example, you could try learning a new language or taking Judo, Taekwondo, or Karate classes. This might seem like attempting to fly even before you have learned to walk but sometimes, the best way to get yourself to try new things is to throw yourself out there.
Your comfort zone is a place of restriction; yes, it is a place where you feel most comfortable in and that can be a very good feeling but it restrains you from trying out other things that you could also love.
In order not to remain stagnant, you must push yourself to take steps out of your comfort zone. Remember, your future is limitless but it depends on what you do right now.
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