There are many opportunities to venture outside of one’s comfort zone in life, but seizing them can be tough.
Sometimes the issue is a lack of awareness of the reasons for doing so. After all, why should we attempt to relinquish the sensation of comfort if it indicates that our most fundamental needs are being met?
The majority of the time, rather than a lack of knowledge, it is people’s mindset that holds them back.
This article examines the mental alterations required to move beyond comfort and into personal growth. We’ll go through some helpful tools, methods, and examples along the road to make getting out of your comfort zone as enjoyable as possible.
In psychology, what is the term “comfort zone”?
The idea of “leaving one’s comfort zone” became popular in the 1990s and is now firmly ingrained in cultural discourse. Judith Bardwick, a management thinker, developed the term “comfort zone” in her 1991 book “Danger in the Comfort Zone”:
“The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.”
There isn’t much incentive for people to push themselves to new levels of performance while they’re in their comfort zone. People go about their daily routines without taking any risks, causing their advancement to stagnate.
However, the concept may be traced all the way back to behavioural psychology.
One of the first investigations that revealed a relationship between anxiety and performance was undertaken by Robert Yerkes and John Dodson in 1907.
When mice were given electric shocks of increasing severity, they grew more eager to complete mazes – but only to a point. They began to hide rather than perform once they passed a certain point.
In humans, same behaviour has been observed. This makes sense because the alternatives for dealing with anxiety-inducing stimuli are fight (face the challenge), flight (run away/hide), or freeze (become paralyzed).
The Yerkes–Dodson Law (Yerkes & Dodson, 1907) applies to many aspects of life, including knowing oneself, relating to others, and so on.
Our neurological systems have a Goldilocks zone of arousal, according to the theory. If you eat too little, you’ll stay in your comfort zone and become bored. But if you do it too much, you’ll enter the ‘panic’ zone, which will stymie your progress:
From the Zone of Comfort to the Zone of Growth
When stepping beyond of one’s comfort zone, fear does not automatically imply panic. Stepping out of your comfort zone and into the unknown requires guts. There is no way to build on previous experiences without a defined roadmap. This can make you feel anxious. If you stick it out long enough, you’ll enter the learning zone, where you’ll pick up new talents and find creative solutions to problems.
After a period of learning, a new comfort zone emerges, allowing one to achieve even greater heights. This is what being in the development zone entails.
Moving into the development zone, like most behavioural change attempts, becomes more difficult without some level of self-awareness. As a result, clients may find it beneficial to examine the following:
- What is the size of their zones?
Everyone’s zones vary in size across all life domains. You must respect your comfort zone’s outside edges in order to leave it. You must also have an instinctive understanding of where your panic zone is located. Taking on challenges that fall somewhere in the middle will push you to grow and develop.
- What are their potential benefits?
derstanding and utilising one’s personal strengths can be quite beneficial. Most people have left their comfort zone in at least one aspect of their lives, and there are usually numerous lessons to be learned from this experience.
In actuality, shifting from a comfort zone to a growth zone may not be a straight line. The voyage is frequently complicated by peaks, troughs, and plateaus. We may even need to retire to our safe haven from time to time before mustering the courage to venture out again. However, acknowledging the steps might aid in the acceptance of ambiguity.
It’s tempting to feel safe, in control, and that the environment is on a level keel when you’re in your comfort zone. It’s all going swimmingly.
The best sailors, on the other hand, aren’t born in calm waters.
In the next section, we’ll look at a few of the many advantages of getting out of your comfort zone.
4 Reasons to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Aside from improving performance, leaving your comfort zone has a number of indirect advantages. A comprehensive list would necessitate a different post, so here are four broad-brush examples.
Realization of one’s potential
Self-actualization is a major motivator for many people to leave their comfort zones. Abraham Maslow’s (1943) theory of human motivation popularised the concept, which he expressed as follows: “What a man can be, he must be.” We can name this need self-actualization.”
The satisfying of our ‘basic’ and ‘psychological’ needs is equivalent to being in the comfort zone, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of requirements. But, whether we realise it or not, the theory claims that our next need is for personal development and fulfilment.
This change is analogous to making a move for self-actualization as long as the decision to leave one’s comfort zone corresponds with one’s ideals. What is the significance of this? For one thing, failing to strive for improvement may lead to lethargy later in life.
The formation of a growth mentality
Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, pioneered a paradigm shift in positive psychology with her work on mindsets in 2008. Her study distinguishes between two different belief systems: fixed and growth mindsets.
People with a fixed mindset believe they have predetermined doses of each ability and a cap on how much they can do. Failure exposes inferiority, and criticism can be devastating to one’s self-esteem.
Recognizing humans as adaptable is part of the growth mindset. Setbacks become opportunities for learning (Dweck, 1999) and our potential becomes limitless when we adopt this mindset.
Developing a growth attitude goes hand in hand with intentionally leaving your comfort zone. The fixed mindset confines us to our fears of failure, but the development mindset expands our horizons. It motivates us to learn new things and take healthy risks, resulting in excellent consequences in many areas of our lives.
Antifragility and resilience
Life isn’t always straightforward; perhaps individuals shouldn’t be either. Everyone, sooner or later, will confront difficulties. People who make it a habit to step outside of their comfort zone are more equipped to deal with change and ambiguity, which leads to resilience.
Nassim Taleb (2012), a statistician, developed the notion of ‘antifragile’ systems, which “thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors.” Evolution and immune systems, as well as the human psyche, are examples.
Antifragile systems learn to grow from shocks and achieve new heights, whereas resilient systems bounce back to the same level after a shock. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone, then, is a deliberate act of antifragility — as long as one does not enter the panic zone!
Self-efficacy, as defined by Albert Bandura (1997), is the belief in one’s ability to carry out necessary actions in order to achieve a goal. Self-efficacy goals should be specific, not too demanding, and short-term (Yailagh, Lloyd, & Walsh, 2009).
Leaving your comfort zone entails a period of trial and error, during which you will almost certainly achieve some level of accomplishment. As we gain confidence in our abilities as a result of this achievement, our self-efficacy grows.
This, like other advantages of stepping outside your comfort zone, is unlikely to happen overnight. The cumulative upward spiral of success and confidence, on the other hand, can be a powerful advantage for anyone.
4 Ways to Encourage You to Break Free from Your Comfort Zone
The following are four helpful hints to assist clients in stepping outside of their comfort zones. These are a combination of mindset recommendations and goal-setting advice.
Stress should be reframed
There is no physiological difference between worry and excitement (Smith, Bradley, & Lang, 2005). Both include a ‘stress response,’ but whether they’re seen as good or negative depends on how they’re labelled.
Society has a tendency to think of all stress as negative, but the concept of eustress, or beneficial stress, challenges this. Eustress gives you the energy you need to finish a public speech, embark on a romantic date, and other activities. These stimuli might be reframed as thrilling, causing us to step beyond of our comfort zones.
Recognize how the brain changes
Embracing “neuroplasticity research” is a crucial step toward internalising the growth mentality. Once understood, it takes less bravery to take the first step away from comfort because failing becomes a necessary part of the path.
Getting out of your comfort zone isn’t always a bad thing. Staying in your ukulele-playing comfort zone, for example, may be appropriate, but staying in your managing-personal-finances comfort zone is not.
The goal is to find bottlenecks in your life, places where being too comfortable causes more harm than good. Encourage customers to choose their goals carefully so that they can concentrate properly.
4.Small steps are necessary
It’s fine to take both tiny, steady steps and larger, more daring ones. Leaving your comfort zone does not imply recklessly disregarding caution. Every step forward is a step ahead.
Patiently “fostering self-awareness” while carefully measuring the boundaries of each zone is a definite approach to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
10 Ways to Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
We grow mostly through our ability to take chances by venturing outside of our comfort zones. However, we are often hesitant to take the first move.
Comfort zones, in reality, aren’t about comfort; they’re about terror. To get outdoors, you must first break the bindings of fear. Once you’ve done that, you’ll discover that taking risks and improving as a result of them is something you’ll like.
Here are some tips to help you break out from your comfort zone and move closer to your goals.
Make a conscious effort to become aware of what is happening outside of your comfort zone.
What are some of the things you believe are worthwhile but are hesitant to try because of the risk of disappointment or failure?
Make a circle and write the items on the outside of it. This method will enable you to clearly identify not only your discomforts, but also your comforts. Inside the circle, write down any identified comforts.
Make a list of the obstacles you want to overcome.
Take the list of annoyances and go a little further. Remember that fear is the fundamental emotion you’re attempting to overcome.
How does this fear differ depending on the situation? Be as precise as possible.
Do you have a fear of approaching strangers and introducing yourself in social situations? What is the reason for this? Is it because you’re self-conscious about your voice? Are you self-conscious about your appearance? Are you terrified about being forgotten?
Get Used to Being Uncomfortable
Expanding your comfort zone is one method to venture outside of it. Make it a mission to stay away from uncomfortable situations.
Let’s stick to the subject of meeting individuals in social situations. Try to stay with it a little longer than you typically would before fleeing to comfort if you start to feel a little panicked when chatting to someone you’ve just met. It will grow less uncomfortable if you stay long enough and practise often enough.
ConciderFailure as a Teacher
Many of us are frightened of failing so much that we would rather do nothing than pursue our aspirations.
Start thinking about failure as a teacher. What did you take away from the encounter? How can you apply what you’ve learned in this lesson to your next journey to improve your chances of succeeding?
Many of the world’s most successful people failed numerous times before finally succeeding.
Taking Small Steps
Don’t try to push yourself outside of your comfort zone; you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and retreat.
Take modest moves in the direction of the fear you’re attempting to overcome. If you wish to do public speaking, start by speaking to small groups of people whenever possible. You can even practise with your friends and family.
Spend time with people who aren’t afraid to take risks.
This is the only step that cannot be skipped. If you want to improve at something, you should begin by hanging out with individuals who are already doing it and mimicking them. Their influence will very certainly begin to influence your actions.
When you’re trying to make excuses, be honest with yourself.
Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”
Make no excuses; simply be truthful. You’ll be in a better position to tackle what’s really upsetting you, and you’ll have a higher chance of making progress.
8.Evaluate how taking a risk will benefit you.
What role will public speaking play in your personal and professional development? Keep these possible advantages in mind as incentive to overcome your fears.
9. Don’t be so serious about yourself.
When you make a mistake, learn to laugh at yourself. Taking risks will almost always result in failure and setbacks, making you appear foolish to others. When others make fun of you, be pleased and roll with the punches.
10. Concentrate on the Joy
Take pleasure in the process of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Enjoy the thrill of learning new information about yourself that you may not have known before.
Getting out of your comfort zone will be terrifying at first. But, as I previously stated, you don’t have to leap out of your comfort zone all at once; instead, take incremental steps.
As you gradually go past your comfort zone, you’ll become more at comfortable with the new things that formerly seemed so dangerous.
Take the initial step, and I’m confident you’ll succeed!