How big is your comfort zone?
Are you stuck inside the straightjacket of your comfort zone? For a lot of people, fear of the unknown, stops them from starting something new or doing something different. They can’t step over the artificial mental boundary they have set up for themselves and want to maintain a certain sense of security. Many associate stepping outside their comfort zone with great discomfort and stay within the boundaries of their comfort zone simply because it is familiar and safe, even if they are unhappy or unfulfilled.
There is actually a lot of science that explains why it is so hard for us to break out of our comfort zone and why it is so good for us when we do it. It is important to push our boundaries and when we do, we can experience magic like so many inspirational quotes suggest. So what is the comfort zone and why do we get so comfortable with a routine?
Your comfort zone is the space you created where your activities and behaviors fit into a pattern and routine that minimizes stress and risk. It provides a mental state of security. However, if we are looking to push ourselves to get to the next level in life, we need to challenge ourselves to get outside our comfort zone. This is where it becomes tricky. Our brain loves routine and patterns and it’s hard to kick it out of our comfort zone. It is natural that we trend towards it, because leaving it means to increase risk and anxiety.
Unfortunately, if you choose to remain in your comfort zone, you will never find out what your true potential is or what you are really capable of. On the other hand, if you choose to move beyond the safety of your comfort zone and situations, experiences and people that are familiar to you, you move onto the path of personal growth. This forces you to stretch yourself, push your limits and become anything you want to be. Keep in mind, stretching doesn’t have to be anything extreme like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. It could mean that you learn a new language, take up a new hobby, join a new group or start a new job.
So what do you gain if you step out of your comfort zone?
#1 Increase Productivity
Comfort kills productivity. We lose our drive and ambition and avoid doing new things. But if we step outside our comfort zone and push our personal boundaries, we find smarter ways to get things done. That slight anxiety that comes with trying new things will help you to find your motivation to get more productive and find solutions so you can return to your comfort zone, only now it is expanded.
#2 Become More Resilient
When you learn how to control your fear of uncertainty by challenging yourself to do things that you normally wouldn’t do in a manageable, controlled environment, you learn to live outside your comfort zone, which can prepare you to be able to deal better with unexpected changes that life throws at you.
#3 Increase Self-Confidence
Once you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone once, it’ll become easier the next time and the time after that and eventually, you will become used to a state of optimal anxiety. You increase your self-confidence by pushing your boundaries further and further and it will become normal for you to challenge yourself and expand your comfort zone.
#4 Stimulate Brain Activity and Prevent Atrophy
If you get too comfortable in your comfort zone, your brain will slow down. But if you are expanding your comfort zone and learn new skills, seek new experiences and open the door to new ideas that inspire and empower you, your creativity will improve and you will be able to see old challenges in a new light with improved energy and motivation.
#5 Improve Yourself
Stretching yourself and expanding your comfort zone is an essential part of your personal growth. Every step that you take outside your comfort zone gets you closer to the next level and keeps you on the path of self-improvement.
Stepping outside your comfort zone can be a great place to be, but how do we break free of our comfort zone? Here are our TOP 10 STEPS to expanding your comfort zone.
#1 Learn Something New
Learn a new language, take up an instrument, take a photography class, start a new sport… Any of those activities will expand your knowledge and comfort zone in a non-threatening and rewarding way. You’ll also be surrounded by other people who are in the same boat as you are, because they, too, are learning something new.
#2 Do Things Differently
Challenge your routine. Find a new way to get to work every day. Try new foods and experiment with new restaurants and recipes. Call people instead of emailing them. However small the changes in your routine are, you start to recalibrate your reality and get a new perspective that comes from changing things up. Even if things don’t work out the way you planned, you can always take it as a learning experience.
#3 Make it Fun
Create a challenge for your friends and family to try something new every week and take turns deciding what that next challenge will be. It’s fun and challenging to find new adventures and you may push yourself and your friends in directions you haven’t thought of before.
#4 Take Baby Steps
Breaking out of your comfort zone takes a lot of courage. Don’t leap out of your comfort zone right away, but slowly and consistently start to expand it with small steps. If you make too big of a change, you will put yourself at a level of stress and anxiety that will drive you back to your comfort zone immediately. But if you make the adjustments small enough, you will see progress in the expansion of your comfort zone that you can handle.
#5 Stay Optimistic
Your attitude can make all the difference in the world. If you choose to be optimistic about the outcome, you will realize that 90% of what you worry about never actually happens. Be very aware of how you talk to yourself. Is your self-talk positive, empowering and encouraging or negative and self-sabotaging?
#6 Know that Feeling Fear is OK
We all have our fears to deal with, especially when we put ourselves out there and try something new. Know that fear is just another emotion and it’s ok to feel it. It’s a natural part of our life. Allow yourself to feel the fear, but don’t give it the power to stop you from what you set out to do.
Allow yourself some quiet time to meditate and get clear on why you want to expand and move beyond your comfort zone. We’ve said it before, meditation will allow you to familiarize yourself with what’s going on inside yourself and will help you understand yourself a little more, while at the same time reducing your stress levels and getting you in a more relaxed state of mind that will allow you to take on any challenge that comes your way.
One of our favorite tools to help you become successful is visualization. See the positive outcome of expanding your comfort zone and imagine how great you will feel when you get to the next level of your life.
#9 Keep an Open Mind
See new experiences as opportunities to experiment, learn and grow. Have a positive attitude about stepping beyond your comfort zone and keep an open mind about the experience as well as the outcome.
#10 Find a Coach
You don’t have to do it alone. Every successful athlete wouldn’t be at his/her success level if they didn’t work with a coach. Get the support from a coach or mentor while you challenge yourself. A coach will help you see yourself in a new light, pushes you to further heights, believes in you and helps you stretch yourself while holding you accountable. Having that support system will get you further faster than when you try it on your own.
Ultimately, if you ever want to achieve anything that is out of the ordinary, expanding your comfort zone is a must! But you can’t live outside your comfort zone all the time. Give yourself time to process your new experiences and find your level of bravery when you expand your comfort zone.
STRETCH YOUR BOUNDARIES AND EMBRACE NEW EXPERIENCES
Joschi & Monika