If life begins at the end of your comfort zone, which side of the fence do you want to be on? It might seem like an obvious choice, yet comfort zones are just what they promise…comfortable—and we often crave the comfort of what’s familiar and predictable. But spend too much time in your comfort zone and chances are you’ll have the nagging feeling that you’re missing out. So, if you’re curious about what life could be like on the other side of your comfort zone, read on as we explore it together.
First, how do you know if you’re stuck in your comfort zone? Here are three clear signs.
1. Fear of Trying New things
Fear is a natural response to change but if you are overly afraid to branch out, it could be a clear sign that you’ve gotten too comfortable with the status quo. If you think about doing something outside of the norm and your first instinct is to retreat to a safe space, then you’re probably stuck.
2. Refusal to Take Risks
Risk-taking isn’t for the faint of heart but some level of risk-taking is necessary for growth. If you refuse to take any risk at all, it could be because you’ve been in your comfort zone for too long.
3. Lack of Confidence and Self-doubt
If you lack the confidence to try new things or doubt that you have what it takes to branch out, you could be comfortably stuck.
Staying in your comfort zone causes you to miss out on opportunities you might later regret not taking. Stepping out in confidence helps you avoid regret and forgo that feeling of ‘what if’.
According to a popular saying, “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” If you want to grow, it starts with getting out of your comfort zone. Admittedly, stepping out of your comfort zone can be uncomfortable and even challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.
Trying new things and taking risks can lead to personal growth and can help you discover strengths and abilities you didn’t even know you had, which leads to increased confidence. Taking some risks can also open up new opportunities you weren’t aware of, or that may not have been available to you before. This can lead to new experiences and connections.
By facing your fears and taking action, you can learn to manage and maybe even overcome them. It all starts with stepping out of your comfort zone. So, the question then is, how do you get out of your comfort zone?
Start with these simple steps to explore the space outside of your comfort zone a little at a time until you build up your confidence.
Identify Your Fears
Fear is our body’s way of keeping us safe from danger, so it’s normal to feel fearful. But it’s important to distinguish between a real threat to our safety and what might simply be the fear of the unknown. That’s why identifying your fears is an important step to helping you move forward. When facing your fears, Dr Robin Stern (Splitter, 2021), Associate Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, suggests that you get “curious about what’s driving you to be afraid, rather than shutting down and ignoring it”. This kind of curiosity can help you figure out where the fear is coming from. According to Stern, “you might see a new way to face those fears, or you might realize there’s less to be afraid of than you thought”.
Start with Small Changes
If stepping out of your comfort zone feels overwhelming, start with baby steps. Maybe instead of trying new things, you can switch up your existing routine. That small change can reassure you that change isn’t necessarily bad. Remember, you don’t have to take a giant leap, just test the waters and start small.
Set Realistic Goals and Create a Plan
Having a goal to work towards can get you moving in the right direction. To set realistic goals, start with a specific area of your life you want to improve instead of upending your entire life with overly ambitious goals. You probably already notice that you feel stuck in one area more than another. So, if you’re making moves in your career but your health has taken a nosedive, that gives you an idea of where to start. Once you determine the one area you want to improve, plan your goals around the things you can control, such as choosing healthier meal options and deciding how often you will exercise. Don’t overthink it. In this case, having an imperfect plan is better than having no plan at all because it gives you something to work with.
Seek Support and Accountability
As you try to get out of your comfort zone, there will always be the temptation to go back to what’s familiar. Having support and accountability will help you stay the course. Reach out to a friend or hire a coach who will help you make steady progress.
Celebrate Your Successes
Every time you step further out of your comfort zone be sure to celebrate your progress. Pay attention to the little changes you make and pat yourself on the back. If you opt to take a walk after work instead of falling back into your old routine of scrolling through social media on the couch, that’s progress—even if you did it only once this week. The more you recognize your success by looking back and seeing how far you’ve come, the more likely you’ll be to stick with the changes.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is an essential part of personal growth and development. It can help you to overcome fear, gain confidence, discover new opportunities, and live a more fulfilling life. While it can be uncomfortable and challenging at first, taking small steps outside of your comfort zone can lead to significant rewards in the long run. So, if you want to achieve your goals and reach your full potential, don’t let your comfort zone hold you back – take a leap of faith and see where it takes you.
Splitter, J. (2021, October 19). Retrieved from Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/how-to-get-better-at-facing-your-fears-according-to-science/
Marva Titley-Smith, Strategic Planner, Certified Life Coach & Author
Marva is a work and life strategist with a passion for helping women thrive in all areas of life. She’s the BVI’s first local female architect and former Chief Planner. In 2012, after 26 years in Public Service, she successfully transitioned careers and founded the management consulting firm, MatrixSpark specializing in strategic management, training and coaching. Following her calling, she became certified as a life breakthrough coach to address the growing work-life balance challenges facing women.
Marva is the author of the best-selling book, Time to Thrive: A Busy Woman’s Devotional Journal. You can find her writing about work-life synergy and intentional living on her website www.MarvaSmith.com.