The idea of comfort is seen differently depending on what profession you work in, or which side you are on. Some people think that we should always be comfortable. Others seem to think that any time you are comfortable,you must step out of your comfort zone, because you’re missing out on some crucial part of life.
There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable. We will discuss some key benefits of going outside your comfort zone:
- to grow as a person
- advance in your career
- improve your relationships. (Source)
Lets start with a brief introduction to what comfort zones are, and why and how we form them.
What Is The Comfort Zone?
Different sources have slightly different definitions for what a comfort zone is. A good basic working definition is to say that our comfort zones are sets of circumstances in which we feel calm and competent. Things in our comfort zones can include tasks that we are familiar with, interests that we have in music, films, literature, and our hobbies.
It’s all too easy to talk about the comfort zone like it’s a bad thing, which is unfortunate. While this article is ultimately about the benefits of going outside your comfort zone, it would be irresponsible not to say that everyone has a comfort zone. It’s perfectly fine and healthy to spend even the vast majority of your time in your comfort zone, so long as you can leave the comfort zone when opportunity calls. (Source)
Look at your comfort zone like a house. You spend a lot of time there, sleep and eat, but you have to leave it to get things done. Sometimes you like to take some time in your house to relax. You’d never want to live an entire life inside of it, but when you hear a knock at the door you probably will answer it.
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As we will discuss below, leaving your comfort zone can be exciting, fun, lucrative, and personally rewarding. Many opportunities for professional and personal advancement lie just outside of the comfort zone.
Reaping those rewards or achieving that advancement often involves stepping out and expanding the zone to accommodate new skills and behaviors. Sadly, only few people endeavor to live outside of their comfort zones. It is a place of confidence and peace, where you can develop skills, rest and recharge after a trip out of it. (Source)
This is especially true when a trip outside of the comfort zone doesn’t go as planned. Nothing can get you back on your feet as fast as getting back to what you know, back to your comfort zone.
How Do We Form Our Comfort Zones?
We begin forming our comfort zones at a fairly young age, begin to recognize what things we can do and what things we can’t do. Early in life, we learned what other people tell us we can and can’t do. These lessons can help us to stay safe. Sadly, these lessons stick with us well into adulthood, well after they’re practical.
As a result, things that we are afraid to do, or feel uncomfortable doing because of experiences that we had in our youth. Sometimes identifying these instances can help us to overcome our fears and inhibitions and step out of our comfort zones as adults. Sometimes these instances simply come to mind, while other times we need to think long and hard to identify them. (Source)
Sometimes we need the help of a loved one or even a therapist to identify and confront those memories.
We don’t stop defining the borders of our comfort zones in our youth, however. Embarrassing or traumatic missteps at any stage in life can leave us unwilling to try new things, at least for a while.
- an accident that physically hurts you,
- a poor investment or workplace blunder that financially hurts you,
- a relationship that doesn’t pan out and emotionally hurts you
your actions today, and their consequences, can be just as formative as when you were younger.
Sometimes people struggle expanding or stepping out of their comfort zones because of a traumatic relationship. In an abusive once, the abuser tries to make their target insecure, dependent and worthless. (Source)
After enough time, the target can begin to feel as though they are weak or stupid and incapable of doing specific actions. These situations can raise barriers on the borders of the comfort zone. The target begins to believe that they cannot do things that they used to be comfortable with.
Why Your Comfort Zone Is Killing You?
Sometimes, we spend too much time in our comfort zones. This can happen for some reasons. Perhaps you have grown complacent with not see the benefit in leaving, especially compared with perceived potential risks.
Perhaps your last trip outside of the comfort zone ended poorly, and now you are afraid to try again. Sometimes what we convince ourselves is complacency, or even happiness! It is just a fear to reach for anything more than what we already have, or that we will lose it chasing dreams. (Source)
Whatever the reason for staying in, getting stuck in the comfort zone can manifest in some ways.
- Sometimes it’s passing up opportunities because you aren’t interested in the burden
- Other times you don’t think that you would be able to keep up with the involved responsibilities.
- Sometimes it’s keeping to yourself because you don’t like meeting new people or trying new things.
- Often it’s settling into a routine that keeps you from experiencing new things.
Regardless of what it looks like, getting trapped in your comfort zone usually means that you stop advancing. Your aversion to doing new things decrease at first professionally, and then personally.
If you are so unwilling to step out of your comfort zone that you pass up valuable opportunities. Begin to lose touch with your relationships. Consider seeking help to identify the reasons that you are afraid or unwilling to leave your comfort zone. Many communities have hotlines that can help you to identify these reasons. You could seek other resources that are more suited to your needs.
Reasons To Leave Your Comfort Zone
Just outside of the comfort zone is an area that some people are starting to call “The Courage Zone” or “Where The Magic Happens.”
This is where we land when we step out, and it’s where many exciting opportunities and experiences are waiting.
We are necessarily inside of our comfort zones when an opportunity arises that would require us to step out into The Courage Zone. (Source)
Maybe you have been at the same level in your job for a while. You’ve gotten good at it, so you are offered an opportunity that you are not sure that you are ready for. Or, if you are a younger reader, maybe you’ve done outstanding work in some of your classes. When an instructor recommends more challenging coursework, you don’t want to lose your good grades or reputation.
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Stepping out of your comfort zone does require some courage and some trust in yourself. When you are offered opportunities, it is likely that you are truly ready to take advantage of them. The only thing holding you back is a lack of confidence in yourself.
Of course, you can also look for opportunities on your own. This is often done by “thrill-seekers.” I will discuss below even lower-risk ways to challenge yourself.
Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Think of your comfort zone as being composed of rings radiating out from the center, like a dartboard. Every ring of your comfort zone is a former courage zone. A place that you were once afraid to go. When you step outside into the courage zone, become confident operating there, that becomes the newest ring in your comfort zone.
This means that those things that formerly made you uncomfortable are now accomplished skills. That things that seemed to be in your distant future or your dizziest daydreams are now that much closer.
Achieving goals also gives a sense of self-confidence that can make it easier to step out of the comfort zone in the future.
If you stay in the comfort zone long enough, you will build confidence to gradually expand it without ever needing to step into the courage zone. This can take a long time. However, the fastest way to advance is to step outside of your zone.
Taking your steps and using your initiative to leave also benefits you personally by increasing your sense of personal courage. If things work out, or even if they don’t, you will often feel personal accomplishment just for having left your comfort zone at all.
Actively leaving your comfort zone rather than waiting for it to expand also catches the attention of supervisors passively.
Supervisors are there to offer you further opportunities, which will require additional trips outside of the comfort zone. They are also there to keep you from doing anything that you’re not ready for.
After all, leaving the comfort zone is healthy, but it is possible to go too far outside of it and get yourself into trouble. (Source)
Benefits Of Leaving The Comfort Zone
Going outside your comfort zone makes it easier for future ventures in more material ways as well. Most of the time when we go out of our comfort zones it is to achieve a new station in life, whether a new job, a promotion, or a new relationship.
Every new station in life also brings with it additional resources that make it easier to overcome future obstacles.
- These are financial resources like a bigger budget or increased spending power;
- Material resources like access to new technology or a larger staff;
- An increased social network that can offer you support;
- Access to other opportunities or forms of assistance. (Source)
Learning From Mistakes
Going outside your comfort zone can also be an enlightening and educational experience, even if you don’t succeed in your tasks there.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone can help you to understand what things are like for people operating on a level other than your own. It can also give you a greater understanding of why things work the way that they do in your regular situation.
Having stepped out of your comfort zone might not expand it if you don’t succeed in your goals there. It can still make you more confident for the next time, even if you take some time to recover before your next adventure.
Tripping, and even falling after you step outside of your comfort zone can also be an educational experience in that it helps you to test your limits.
- Sometimes the boundaries of our comfort zone are set because we have low expectations of ourselves.
- Other times the boundaries are set because our minds are trying to protect us from doing things that we aren’t ready.
- Sometimes we don’t trust ourselves to take on tasks that we are perfectly prepared to do.
It can be hard to tell the difference unless you try.
How Do You Break Your Fears?
Any time that you go outside of your comfort zone it should be a calculated risk. Going outside doesn’t mean waging everything on whatever opportunity comes up.
It’s important to have the right attitude to learn from misadventures in the courage zone. These trips need to be seen as learning experiences rather than failures. It must be seen as educational, while failure may push you back and make it more difficult to leave it the next time.
Of course, it’s easier to see things as failures if a great deal was lost. That brings us back to the idea of calculated risks, and of not putting everything on the line. Perspective is also important. We often see ventures as either failures or successes.
Many times, when we attempt something and “fail” we end up back where we started with nothing lost but some time and effort. Fear of losing resources prevents us from making poor decisions, but fear of losing dignity prevents us from making good choices. (Source)
Leaving The Comfort Zone From Home
That isn’t to say, however, that you need to have anything at stake to step out of your comfort zone at all. Sometimes stepping out of our comfort zone means trying new and potentially dangerous things but sometimes you can step out of your comfort zone while sitting on your couch at home.
Books, movies, and even music can present us with challenging ideas that may be difficult for us to stomach, but that can heighten our understanding of the world, or also of ourselves.
Emotionally challenging novels can help you to understand about ourselves that can’t be gained without some discomfort. Maybe reading more will help to take you out of your comfort zone too. (Source)
Autobiographies and documentaries about difficult but formative times in history can also offer uncomfortable but essential lessons that help us to understand the world that we live in.
The impacts of many painful and traumatic historical events and periods are still felt by many people. They form comfort zones as a result of the social ramifications of historical events. It helps them to remember segregation, the Holocaust, or other examples of persecution and conflict. Having a better understanding of this content can also help you to appreciate their perspectives.
Going Outside Your Comfort Zone [Conclusion]
Hopefully, you now understand that going outside your comfort zone has many benefits and many people are associated with.
The material and financial benefits can’t be ignored. But there are significant personal and inter-personal benefits that come along with it. Try to think about these additional benefits the next time that you are considering going outside your comfort zone.
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