Eating the same foods every day, going to work at the same place you’ve always worked, or spending your day keeping to yourself at work are all forms of comfort zones. Every person has a different idea of what they are comfortable with. We do the same routine, eat the same foods, and keep the same people around us to feel comfortable.
Our comfort zone is like our home. It’s where things are familiar, restful, and normal.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Roy T. Bennett
What we know as the comfort zone, as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, means “a situation in which you feel comfortable and in which your ability and determination are not being tested.” You feel relaxed and calm in your comfort zone.
We often don’t get out of our comfort zone unless we’re forced into a new situation, like a promotion at your job that causes you to speak in front of others, or you’re forced to face new situations because of health issues.
The truth is most of us won’t step out of our comfort zones, even for a small step, unless we’re forced. But did you know that by staying in our comfort zone, we are keeping ourselves from growing, both personally and professionally?
In fact, when you step out of your comfort zone, you are inspired to do it more often. This “facing your fear” helps you grow more confident in your abilities.
Going outside your comfort zone isn’t the easiest thing, and you’ll have to find ways to propel yourself. You’re going to prepare yourself for success when you do. Otherwise, making a wrong turn out of your comfort zone could lead to the possibility of never trying again. But you must not let fear rule you either. You have to find a balance.
Before you take that step, you need to know why and how your comfort zone is keeping you small and learn if you are stuck in hiding in your comfort zone. We’ll explore that in this guide, along with the benefits of facing your fear, some ways to help you get out of your comfort zone, and how to leave it in the past.
Ready to push forward? Let’s get started.
Your Comfort Zone Keeps You Small
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
You might not have really thought about how having a regular routine of how you do things is keeping you from growing personally increasing your self-esteem and professionally. After all, aren’t routines good for being productive towards your goals? Not necessarily.
Our comfort zone holds us back and prevents us from growing and changing. It holds us back from going after our big scary goals. Staying where we are comfortable keeps us from enjoying all the wonderful experiences in the world.
By staying in our comfort zone, we miss out on opportunities that stretch and strengthen us. Compare being in your comfort zone to lifting weights. At first, your muscles ache from lifting the weight. But as you continue to lift, your muscles grow stronger. The same is true with your weaker skills. With training, they grow stronger.
For instance, maybe you’re an introvert with a great at organizing and a keen eye for detail. But as part of your job, you need to recruit others. Instead of doing all the work yourself, you instead step out of your comfort zone and learn how to sell to others. This may scare you, but your skills will grow and expand as you learn.
Your comfort zone has a way of keeping you from advancing in your career, your goals, and in life. When you strengthen your skills, it helps you be better prepared to achieve your goals. Having bettered yourself, you open the door for new opportunities for advancement. You’re no longer limited or passed over because you were afraid to go for the skills needed.
For example, you’ve been practicing your public speaking skills. You’ve put in hours practicing in front of others. Now you’re ready to give your talk to potential clients. If you stay in your comfort zone, you won’t gain ground on reaching your goals.
Staying in your comfort zone keeps you from having fun. Of course, you can always binge-watch Netflix or scroll through social media. But after a while, that can be extremely boring.
Stepping out of your comfort zone keeps your life from becoming dull. Outside of your comfort zone, you can find many ways to find excitement. If it’s scary to jump into a sport, start small with something fun that isn’t as scary. You don’t know what you’re missing until you step out and try.
Sometimes embarrassment can keep you in your comfort zone. We’re afraid of looking foolish for doing something. This keeps us from doing things we enjoy or might want to pursue.
Living in your comfort zone robs you of growth and new experience that keep your life exciting, fun, and worth living. It keeps you from changing personally and advancing in your career and life.
Signs You are Stuck in Your Comfort Zone
As we’ve said, your comfort zone is a space we’ve created ourselves over the years. We don’t realize we’ve become trapped in the space because we’ve become so accustomed to the way we do things and our lifestyle. It keeps us from realizing how we’ve been limiting our possibility to grow.
Here are six signs that indicate you need to leave your comfort zone:
- You’re very unmotivated to start or plan any new projects.
- You are afraid to take risks, preferring to let good opportunities to pass you up.
- You use the excuse that you will lose more than you will gain.
- You’ve done things the same way for years, having the same routine for everything you do.
- You aren’t learning anything new that makes a difference in your life.
- You fight against new ideas that don’t fit into your current structured system.
Benefits of Stretching Your Comfort Zone
“The greatest things in life tend to happen outside our comfort zones, and doubting your ability to step outside of your comfort zone will keep you stuck.” – Amy Morin
Being in your comfort zone helps you to get things done and feel safe, but there are benefits to stretching outside your comfort zone as well. Here are nine reasons you should step out of feeling safe.
- It helps you become more adaptive and become self-reliant. Constantly doing the same thing every day keeps you from being able to adapt when your routine is disrupted somehow easily. But by regularly stepping outside of your routine, you’ll find it easier to react when unexpected things happen. Ease outside what is familiar to feel more confident in your ability to handle what life tosses you.
- It helps lower your risk of developing depression. Stepping outside your comfort zone helps you cope with the uncomfortable challenges of life that cause stress, anxiety, and depression.
- When you do the same things repeatedly, you and your situation won’t change. By stepping out of your comfort zone and having new experiences, you increase your chances of growing stronger and changing things. You’ll see positive personal growth in many ways.
- It helps you to perform better at what you attempt. Even though getting out of your comfort zone can cause anxiety, it’s actually a good thing. Moderate stress is associated with boosting your performance.
- Being outside of your comfort zone can help decrease the chances of you becoming bored. Following the same routine can be dull and drag. But by trying new experiences or situations, you can have a feeling of satisfaction and excitement.
- Your mind is often set to autopilot as you go through your normal routine. You are comfortable, so you don’t have to think about it. Stepping outside your comfort zone challenges you to think spontaneously, which leads you to be your most creative.
- You’ll be more productive. The anxiety that comes from deadlines and expectations prompts us to do our best. Our comfort zone leads to mediocrity as a way to content ourselves. We pretend we are too busy so that we can stay in our comfort zone and allow us to avoid doing new things.
- Leaving your comfort zone helps you gain self-confidence. When you achieve your goals by facing the scary things outside your comfort zone gives you a feeling of empowerment. Dealing with situations that scare us makes us stronger than we believed we were. As we overcome obstacles, as well, we are gaining skills that we can add to our tool kit for the rest of our life.
- Leaving your comfort zone helps you to age gracefully. It helps you preserve cognitive abilities by keeping the mind active and engaged. Facing new challenges stimulates both the mental and social self.
Once you begin stepping into the zone outside of your comfort, you’ll begin to see and feel the benefits of how it can change your life.
When to Push the Boundary
“A ship is always safe at the shore, but that’s not what it’s built for.” -Albert Einstein
There are methods and strategies you can use to help you decide when and where you should be pushing your comfort zone boundary so you can grow. Fear is the main thing that keeps us in our safe area, but by pushing against our boundaries in strategic ways, it becomes easier each time we attempt it.
Use these tactics to help you.
Evaluate before you jump.
Is what you are contemplating worth it? Put the fear aside and ask yourself if you would do whatever it is if there was no risk of failure, not stress, and no fear. Try reframing the situation.
For example, if you are an introvert and you are invited to a networking event that would advance your career, you might be afraid and say you really don’t want to advance. However, if you reframe your thinking into imagining, you’re just going to a friend’s house for a party where a lot of the people in your industry happen to be as well.
Look at your current schedule.
When presented with an opportunity, decide if you have to accept it. You need time to work on building your skills or getting trained. You might have to learn how to handle the stress of the unknown in the new situation. Calculate how long it will take to participate as well as the planning and learning you’ll need to do beforehand.
For example, you are asked to speak at an event. The actual speech is only 20 minutes long, and the event is for 2 hours. But you’ll need time to prepare, research and write the speech as well as practicing it so you will be comfortable giving it. This takes time that you need to put into your schedule.
Get prepared to make your move.
As we just saw, you need to prepare before you leap out of your comfort zone into some unknown endeavor. Determine what you need to do and what need you need to accomplish. What steps do you need to take? What skills need developing? These steps help build your confidence to make the full jump out of your comfort zone.
Implementing these tactics as you learn to push out the boundary of your comfort zone will help make the transition a bit more comfortable. Taking small steps and preparing yourself beforehand helps the fear be less prevalent.
Tips for Leaving Your Comfort Zone Behind
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place…but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown
You’ve discovered the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone, as well as how it affects your life. You know you need to, but the thought scares you, and you end up staying in your comfort zone. Here are ten tips to help you leave your comfort zone behind.
Start small by switching up the easy stuff. Instead of jumping out of an airplane (unless that’s what you want), begin by changing something you do every day. Go down a different street on the way to work. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Try a new restaurant or even a new dish at an old restaurant. Move the furniture around your home. Try a new gym. Get up 15 minutes earlier. All of these things are small, but they can feel uncomfortable and help get into the feeling of moving forward.
Push yourself to do things outside your comfort zone like not hitting the snooze button or finishing a project even when you don’t have to. When you push yourself physically, you are making your mental strength stronger naturally. This is a key to staying and pushing the boundary outside your comfort zone.
Make a list of everything you believe is good about getting outside your safe area. Creating a reason big enough of why you want to get out of your comfort zone helps you have a mental breakthrough. Keep adding, finding the deeper, emotionally driven reasons. When you feel yourself retreating into your comfort zone, take out the list and look at it.
Let’s be obvious here. Do the things that scare you. Doing scary things automatically allows you to get out of your comfort zone. Confronting what scares you can be a big step in facing it. Create a list of your fears. Keep a diary just for this. Don’t avoid fears that come up. Attack one fear at a time. Slowly do something that scares you about the fear.
Rewrite your story. Let go of what your story is now and begin rewriting it by doing things you are uncomfortable with.
Skip being perfect. That will just make you afraid to try. Things are never going to be perfect. There are many ways to step out of your comfort zone, and none of them have to be perfect. Just do what is right for you.
Be who you are without fear. We spend our lives not making waves, minding our own business, and staying out of trouble. But this is not where growth is. Instead, act when you find yourself wanting to play it safe. You might get into an argument, ask out that person you want to date or express your opinion on something. What’s the worst that can happen? But then again, what’s the best that could happen?
Make yourself do it. Sometimes that’s the only way to get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you need to take a class, set a deadline, get some accountability, or tell the world what you’re doing. That fear of someone asking how you’re doing or how it went just might be enough to make you do it.
Find a way to bridge the gap between your comfort zone and the new situation. For example, if you’re at an event where you need to be networking but are more comfortable one on one, figure out how to make it closer to your comfort. Maybe instead of a large conference room filled with people, you ask someone to step out into the lobby so you can hear and sit down. Or focus on getting others’ business cards so you can follow up later on one.
Be brave by doing something scary. Whether you want to learn a new skill, start a business, or meet new people, taking steps to try it.
Keep a journal of all the new things you try. When you journal about it, ask yourself what you enjoyed about it and what you hated. Build on the experience.
Stick with it even if you feel discouraged. Push past the doubt and keep trying.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary. And it can be difficult to do. It’s important to remember why you are doing it and take small steps to get there. Remember, even your comfort zone started out different.
Steps to Jump Out of Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone can be stressful, but it’s something you have to work towards on a regular basis. We prefer to be comfortable, but to be our best, we have to take steps to get out of the comfort zone rut. Here are five steps to begin doing that:
Begin with small steps. Take small daily steps toward your big goal. Break them down into small actionable steps that are easier to achieve and less frightening. This allows you to focus on each day as it comes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for new things. Ask your boss for more responsibilities or ask to join in with a group of friends at a get-together. Look for new projects that interest you, but you don’t normally do. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself, but you do want to challenge your normal routine.
Take control of your fears. Everyone is afraid of something. It’s natural to be uncomfortable. Just recognize your fear and focus on being more confident. Get a clear idea of what fear feels like outside of your comfort zone, so you’ll notice when it is happening. Then you can find a way to replace that fear with a more empowering thought. You could say a mantra as you visualize yourself successfully doing whatever you feared.
Do something scary every day. Challenge yourself to do something that makes you scared now that you understand your fears.
Use your curiosity. Don’t lose your curiosity about the world. Be ready to learn new things and have new experiences.
Stepping out of our comfort zone keeps us from living a mundane life. Use these five steps to begin experiencing life outside your comfort level.
What Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone?
Now that you know how to get out of your comfort zone, do you know how it will affect your life? What happens when you get brave enough to jump out of your comfort zone?
Here’s what we have found.
You’ll be scared the first time or many times, but don’t quit.
You might fail. But then again, you might succeed as well. There will be a learning curve that means you won’t get everything right the first time.
When you step out, you’ll learn. For every success without any attachment and failure outside your comfort zone, you will learn something. Use that knowledge to lead you to succeed and grow.
You’ll begin to see yourself differently. Outside your comfort zone, you’ve proven to yourself that you are able to achieve more than you’d thought you could. That will change how you see yourself giving you more confidence.
Others will see you in a different way. Getting out of your comfort zone shows people that you’re capable of doing more than you’ve previously done. Your increased confidence will show.
Your comfort zone will stretch and expand. With each new step outside your comfort zone, you increase your skills and actions, which then become a part of your comfort zone.
Getting out of your comfort zone helps you increase your ability to focus and concentrate.
To move outside your comfort zone, you must develop new skills. This forces you to step away from your current set of behaviors and develop new ones.
You’ll naturally achieve more when you get out of your comfort zone. All these things make you more confident, focused, and skillful. Then you begin to see yourself in a different way, and that encourages you to continue stepping further outside your comfort zone.
Ideas for Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
Not sure where to start to get out of your comfort zone? Begin with something small. Here are 55 ideas to get you started.
- Ask that person out you’ve always wanted to.
- Begin a conversation with a complete stranger.
- Learn a new skill that you’ve always wanted to know.
- Park in a different spot at work.
- Do something creative like dancing or taking a painting class
- Quit a bad habit.
- Go hiking alone.
- Go to a restaurant alone and enjoy yourself.
- Try a new food at home and when dining out.
- Smile at people on the street.
- Let go of the past.
- Be more assertive at work and in relationships.
- Swim with sharks.
- Question your beliefs.
- Start a business.
- Speak in front of a crowd.
- Go zip-lining.
- Volunteer your time.
- Ask for a raise or a promotion.
- Call a potential client.
- Do a live video.
- Share your deepest thoughts with someone.
- Go to salsa dancing.
- Workout in a gym instead of at home.
- Join and participate in a sports league.
- Practice more self-care.
- Wear something totally different from your normal style.
- Get a new hairstyle.
- Sing in public.
- Laugh and dance in the park.
- Forgive someone.
- Post something controversial on social media.
- Take responsibility for everything in your life.
- Say NO more often.
- Learn a new language and use it.
- Take a trip alone.
- Offer those new services you are afraid to.
- Raise your rates.
- Write your biography.
- Tell your story publicly.
- Go somewhere you would never go.
- Take a class at a local college.
- Teach a class at a local college.
- Move to a new state or city.
- Give everyone you meet a hug.
- Join a group you’d never have before.
- Take up martial arts.
- Stand up for yourself.
- Propose the offer to that big client.
- Comment more on blogs, social media, and in person.
- Take a cooking class. Cook a gourmet meal.
- Go to a networking event and network.
- Mentor someone who is just starting in your profession.
- Take up a sport you haven’t done in a long time.
- Go skydiving.
Our comfort zone can be as wide or as narrow as we choose to make it. The wider it is, the happier and more successful we’ll be. Try one of these ideas to push the boundary of your comfort zone wider.
“To move to a new level in your life, you must break through your comfort zone and o things that are not comfortable.” – T. Harv Eker
We develop a comfort zone as a way to shield ourselves from things that are unfamiliar and stressful. But success can’t be achieved within this tiny area. In order to reach a goal and grow personally, we have to take risks, face our fears, and step out of that comfort zone.
It can be unsettling to try something new. It can also be invigorating when we step out and face that fear. It is a lifelong learning process. You have to take steps every single day to begin moving outside your comfort zone. If you don’t, it’s too easy to fall back into your usual routine and get stuck in a rut.
When you are stepping out of your comfort zone, you need to:
- Know what’s outside your comfort zone that you believe is worth doing.
- Become clear on what you want to overcome.
- Get comfortable with discomfort.
- Use failure as a teacher.
- Take small first steps.
- Be with those who are risk-takers.
- Be honest with yourself when you use excuses.
- Know how getting out of your comfort zone will benefit you.
- Don’t be so serious. Learn to laugh at your mistakes.
- Enjoy the process along the way.
Because once you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll feel physically and emotionally changed.