Staying within your comfort zone may feel safe and familiar, but it can also lead to a lack of growth and fulfilment. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, but it can also lead to new opportunities, personal growth, and a sense of accomplishment.
Over the years, I’ve experienced both remaining in my comfort zone and stepping out. For myself, the positive, happy feeling of learning, growing and accomplishing goals certainly outweighs the lack of personal growth.
Here’s why it’s important to push yourself beyond your limits.
Comfort zones limit personal growth.
When we stay within our comfort zones, we limit our potential for personal growth. We become complacent and settle for what we already know and are comfortable with. However, stepping out of our comfort zones can lead to new experiences, challenges, and opportunities that can help us grow and develop as individuals. It can also boost our confidence and self-esteem as we overcome obstacles and achieve new goals. So, don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things – it may just lead to a more fulfilling and rewarding life.
What is the comfort zone?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary states ‘that comfort zone means the range within which one is comfortable’ and a further meaning is ‘the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity’. The Cambridge dictionary defines comfort zone as ‘a situation in which you feel comfortable and in which your ability and determination are not being tested’.
The comfort zone is a place where we feel secure, we are in familiar territory or we feel in control due to the routine we have put in place.
Looking at the comfort zone meanings there will be times when everyone at some time has stepped out of their comfort zone. As a child, there are many occasions in which our limits are tested and pushed. The first time you put your hand up in class. The first time you read aloud in class, the first time you do a presentation. Naturally, as an adult, there are also many occasions in which you and I would step fearfully into the unknown to learn new skills to reach a goal.
Overcoming fears builds confidence.
Stepping out of your comfort zone often involves facing fears and taking risks. But when we overcome those fears and succeed in new experiences, it can greatly boost our confidence. We realize that we are capable of more than we thought, and that can translate into other areas of our lives. By regularly pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, we can build a strong sense of self-efficacy and belief in our abilities. So, don’t let fear hold you back – embrace the challenge and watch your confidence grow.
What is the fear zone?
The fear zone is an area where we lack self-confidence, feel our hearts pounding, and feel anxious about the actions we need to take to move to where we want to go. In the fear zone, we look for excuses not to do something due to perceived threats we tell ourselves. Yes, our subconscious mind will try to keep us in our comfort zone. When in the fear zone, we need to find the courage to put fear into perspective. Decide not to let others influence our decisions and believe in ourselves.
I’ve always had a fear of public speaking and would seldom put up my hand in class to answer a question or ask a question. As a child I had a fear; a fear of being judged, judged for asking the wrong questions, judged for getting the answer wrong. This fear of public speaking I carried with me from childhood into adulthood. As an adult, there have been numerous times I’ve sat in a meeting or a class waiting and hoping someone would ask the burning question I had.
This fear of speaking up was holding me back. I knew I needed to overcome this obstacle. I needed to step into unfamiliarity and learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Ask yourself ‘Are you the person you need to be in order to achieve your goals?
This question I asked myself and knew that I needed to change I needed to become a person who is prepared to push through challenges, ask questions and not exchange what I want for what is easiest.
Look beyond the fear zone
Stopping limiting beliefs and pushing through fear takes courage. Many people stay on the spot, stay in the safe zone. Like me, are you looking at the outer circle with a burning desire to push through the barrier and step outside your comfort zone? Not easy, yet to want success and create a better life takes courage, it takes mental strength and willpower. It takes determination and daily activity to change habits and reach goals.
New experiences lead to personal development.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing new experiences is essential for personal growth. When we challenge ourselves and try new things, we learn more about ourselves and our capabilities. We develop new skills, gain confidence, and become more adaptable to change. Whether it’s trying a new hobby, taking on a new project at work, or travelling to a new place, stepping out of our comfort zones can lead to personal development and a more fulfilling life. So, don’t be afraid to take that first step – you never know where it may lead you.
What is the learning zone?
The learning zone is where you are resourceful and you start taking steps to overcome challenges and build new routines. The learning zone is a growing zone where you work out which way is your way to achieve your goals.
Step out of your comfort zone with mini challenges
I started by creating lots of small challenges for myself. 30-day challenges, 90-day challenges and sometimes just a daily challenge.
Challenges can assist and help you become who you need to become to be who you want to be.
The challenges helped me expand my comfort zone and helped with my belief in possibilities.
Examples of mini challenges for health goals
- stop eating chocolate for 1 month
- take part in dry July
- walk 10,000 steps every day. Start by increasing steps by 300 steps a day.
- drink 8 cups of water daily for 30 days
- take part in a 24 day mindfulness challenge
- cook 1 new healthy meal each week. Be open to change.
- track your food on a food tracker for 7 days.
Personal growth comes from changing habits to create new routines.
Choose to grow in multiple areas of life.
In the article ‘how to write your goals for a more balanced life‘, I discuss life areas and breaking down your goals. As you break down your goals in your different life areas, think about your comfort zone and the actions you need to take to move from the comfort zone to the growth zone.
What is the growth zone?
The growth zone is where you set and achieve goals. When you are in the growth zone you have discovered ways to live by your personal values and find fulfilment. The growth zone is where you have developed new skills, learnt coping strategies and embrace change.
The comfort zone circles can help you see your progress as you take action towards your goals. When you are in the learning zone break your goals down into bite-size pieces so that you can take the steps needed to reach your desired outcome.
8 Ways to step out of your comfort zone.
Remember your successes
Some of the best things happen outside of your comfort zone. Draw on times of success. Remember a time when you stepped through the barrier to success. Remember how it felt, visualize that success. Use that success to propel you forward, to help you break through your comfort zone.
Write out a list of some of your successes to draw on to help you achieve your goals.
- Driving – from the fear of learning to drive to passing the driving test and getting your licence.
- University degree – the fear of returning to study, putting in the work, developing effective study habits and receiving your degree.
- Changing jobs – the worry of leaving the known for the unknown.
- Raising children – the concerns and anxiety of bringing up your children the right way, (your right way). Seeing your children today achieving their goals today as young adults.
- Getting yourself out of debt – remember the changes made that felt like sacrifices, these were the lessons that lead to change.
Create your life, and achieve your goals with one little step at a time, steps that lead to positive actions and take you one step closer to your goals.
Be your own mentor
What would a mentor advise? Be your own mentor and ask yourself questions;
- ‘What is the worst that could happen?
- What is the best that could happen?
- Would others benefit from it?
- Would I benefit from it?
- Why am I limiting myself?
- What is holding me back?
By being your own mentor and asking yourself questions you elevate your thinking, and gain clarity and self-empowerment to step out of your comfort zone into new horizons.
Take incremental steps
On a daily basis take incremental steps towards your success. Small daily steps can lead to big changes. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, slowly one step at a time saw the tortoise get to the finish line.
Join a challenge or track your daily progress with a habit tracker.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone
This is the system I used to speak up more often in meetings or more precisely on webinars. I mentally remembered the steps in the book ‘Five Second Rule’ by Mel Robbins and said to myself ‘5,4,3,2,1 and that was it my hand was up and I was speaking on the webinar.
Daunting as this may sound, share knowledge and learn how to ask for help. Asking questions is part of the learning experience, part of personal growth and a great way to develop skills as you design your life.
Personal development is key to stepping outside your comfort zone. Read books, listen to audiobooks or podcasts, and listen to how others have overcome their challenges. There are so many places today to learn skills to raise one’s value, create success and step out of the comfort zone. Include personal development as part of your morning routine. I found the simple act of journaling every morning great for mental health and personal growth.
Write a list, of the comfortable and uncomfortable
Write out a list of the things you may need to do to achieve your goal. On the list, note down the things you would be uncomfortable doing. Next to the task note down a resource that could help you, a person, a book, or a past experience to draw inspiration from.
Say yes, become that yes person
I often say no so as not to become overwhelmed and stressed but it is important to know when to say yes. Become a ‘yes’ person and say yes to new challenges. Say yes to trying new activities, joining new groups, and trying new food. Switch up your routine and try Tai Chi or yoga. Say yes to new projects. New projects mean learning new skills and developing new skills is personal growth.
Create a vision board
Create a vision board and look at it every day to help you focus. Looking at a vision board is empowering and can help you take action towards your goals. Visualisation too is a powerful tool. Imagine yourself having achieved your goal, and how you would feel about the achievement.
Embracing discomfort can lead to a more fulfilling life.
It’s natural to want to avoid discomfort and stick to what feels safe and familiar. However, by embracing discomfort and stepping out of your comfort zone, you can experience personal growth and a more fulfilling life. Trying new things and taking risks can help you build confidence, develop new skills, and gain a sense of accomplishment. It may not always be easy, but the rewards of pushing past your comfort zone can be truly life-changing.
Life begins at the end of the comfort zone.
With daily action, you too can expand your comfort zone and can create the life you envisioned for yourself and your family. Start slowly building your dream life one step at a time. Start by changing one habit and then stack habits to achieve more of your life goals.