The advantages to getting a little out of your comfort zone
You’ve been there too haven’t you, those times where you’re on the edge of your comfort zone?
That moment where you’re confronted with an opportunity to meet someone new, take on that project, go to that event, start that course of study or embark on that venture, and you the butterflies, that moment of hesitation, and there you are…
Confronted with that choice…
“Do you step out, or not?”
So given that we all face this choice, repeatedly, in all kinds of areas in our life, maybe it’s good to remind ourselves why getting a little out of our comfort zone can be a good thing.
Why step out of your comfort zone?
#1 Stepping out could be easier than you thought
Let’s face it, stepping can be a daunting prospect… after all, it’s not called your comfort zone for nothing.
However, there are many occasions where the thought of stepping out, can be harder than just doing it. For example, if you’re stepping out of your comfort zone to introduce yourself to someone, it’s good to remember that they also experience the very same insecurities you do. Maybe they’re better at overcoming them, maybe not, but either way, the reception on the other side of your comfort zone could be friendlier than you expect.
#2 You can do more outside your comfort zone
One of my favourite motivational quotes is, “everything you want is outside of your comfort zone.”^
If you don’t already have it, there’s a good chance that it’s not within the realms of your current comfort zone.
The great part is, that just because it’s out of your comfort zone, it doesn’t mean it’s a long way out. Sometimes you can achieve a lot in just a few little steps, you just have to make those steps.
^The quote referred to in this section is from the book, “The One Minute Millionaire” by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen
#3 Discover new skills/abilities
If you’ve school age kids, you’ve very likely heard them tell you quite adamantly about the things that they can’t do in terms of their homework, when you know full well, that not only can they do it, but once they know they can do it, it’ll become another building block on which they learn even more advanced knowledge and skills.
Guess what, that doesn’t change for us big people… so if “I can’t” is still in your vocabulary, perhaps try switching it for, “I’m about to…”, “I’ll give it a go” or “I can learn this”.
Having been through boot camp in the armed services, I recall being amazed at how much I actually could do, in a really short space of time. Perhaps that was due to having the privilege of a drill sergeant who was brilliant at getting me out of my comfort zone.
#4 Increases confidence
Now this could be irony that the confidence to step out of your comfort zone, usually comes by actually stepping out.
However, it’s also true, that the more you step out and see the benefits of doing so, the easier it becomes to step out with confidence.
The most successful people I know are in the constant habit of stepping out in big things and in small, continually exercising the habit and reinforcing their confidence to live a big life.
Confidence is not the absence of insecurity or fear, but a choice in response to it.
Constantine “Cus” D’Amato (coach to Mike Tyson and Floyd Patterson) said, “The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.”
#5 Increases your sphere of influence
Everyone has a comfort zone, and few people are going to go out of their way to step into yours. If you want to live a bigger life, interact with new people and forge a platform of influence, it all comes from stepping out.
If you agree with this, why not share this article with someone who you know will be inspired by it (that reluctance you just felt, that’s your comfort zone speaking).
#6 Your comfort zone gets uncomfortable if you stay too long
The deceptive thing about comfort, is that it is more temporary than we often realise. The chair in my office feels comfortable until I’ve been there for more than a few hours, then it mysteriously seems a lot harder and more uncomfortable.
Any area that you’re currently comfortable, probably won’t be if you stay too long.
However, if you treat your comfort zone like a home base, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Just like when you go away on a great holiday, have a great time, yet are glad to come home again.
#7 New friends are there
Think of the friends that you are really comfortable spending time with, then think back to how you met. Were there any uncomfortable moments there?
#8 Enjoy things you didn’t know you liked
The Dr Seuss classic, “Green Eggs and Ham”, is the perfect example of this. Throughout the story, Sam is trying to get the main character to try eating green eggs and ham, which is met by all kinds of resistance. When eventually, he concedes to Sam’s persistent request and tries this strange food, he discovers that he really likes green eggs and ham…
There are so many things that you could well really enjoy, if only you give it a go…
#9 Your comfort zone increases
The great part is that what is comfortable for you isn’t set in stone… in fact the more you step out and do the uncomfortable, the more what you find comfortable increases.
Remember as a kid those rides at the theme park that seemed really scary, until you went on them a couple of times, and then they became your favourite?
Another ironic point, if you want to feel more comfortable, do more uncomfortable things. The opposite of this may also be true, for in only chasing the comfortable, you could well discover more and more discomfort.
#10 Increases your satisfaction and joy
Since we all want to be happy (or at least say so), and so many things that we want seem to fall outside of our current realm of the comfortable, surely, stepping out of our comfort zone is a key to experiencing more satisfaction and joy.
#11 You will gain the opportunity to inspire others
Have you gained any inspiration or encouragement from this article? If so, it’s a good example of this point. This whole blog has often been a little ‘uncomfortable’, but every time I hear how someone has enjoyed a post or been inspired, it reminds me of this principle.
You can inspire and help others, if only you make the choice to step out of what’s comfortable for you. Then of course, you’ll have the privilege of experiencing the amazing reward of doing so (maybe I just summarised parenting, management and leadership).
Launch pad or comfort zone?
So next time you’re wondering or not you should take on the challenge to step out a little, maybe you could ask yourself…
“Is this my comfort zone or my launch pad?”