Life is full of opportunities and sometimes the only way to notice or grasp these opportunities is by stepping outside of your comfort zone. The phrase, “stepping out of your comfort zone” simply means pushing yourself past your limits; doing things that you wouldn’t normally do.

Your ‘comfort zone’ is a place where you feel a sense of familiarity, stress-free, certainty and security. By stepping out, you are taking a risk, exposing yourself to a possibility of stress and anxiety.  But it’s not all bad. Because of the endless possibilities, you will discover more and venture onto a path that you didn’t even know existed.

Simply put, staying in your comfort zone can result in consistent, steady performance but by stepping out of your comfort zone, you are exposed to new and challenging task that can condition you or your environment for success.

Figure 1 Step out of your comfort zone

From comfort zone to personal growth

Comfort zone    > Fear zone >   Learning zone   >    Growth zone

It takes courage to move out of your comfort zone. Moving into unchartered areas with no clear roadmap, can be quite scary. You will encounter many new, unfamiliar things and may lack the self confidence in the first few steps. However, you should not let fear or the negative opinions of others affect you.

The more persistent and courageous you are the more you will build on your skills and character. You will be able to deal with challenges / problems resourcefully. You have now surpassed your comfort level, expand your ability to reach new heights and the have created a new comfort zone – the growth zone.

The cycle then restarts but you will be continuously growing and reaching new & better goals. You will be able to find purpose and live your dreams.

Aside from reaching personal growth, why else should you expand your comfort zone:

  1. You will become a stronger person- You have no idea what you’re made off, unless you venture outside of your familiar world. By challenging yourself, you are leveraging your personal unknown skills and resources to overcome your problems.
  2. You will be more creative – It’s easy to put your mind on autopilot but when you encounter a new situation, you need to start thinking on your feet. It would naturally increase your adaptability and it would easier for you to react in an agile way when things don’t happen as you expected – find creative solutions.
  3. It allows you to gain self-confidence – The more you continuously step out your comfort zone, the more comfortable you will become in doing so. You will also gain the ability face the discomfort of life challenges (such as self-doubt, anxiety, fear) and cope with stress.
  4. You will encounter new people and live new rewarding experiences- A fun exciting life awaits you once you leave the bubble of your personal thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Enjoy all of your experience, not just the ones you’re comfortable with.

How to step out of your comfort zone

The first thing is to always be aware of what you’re aiming to overcome. What is your personal reason for challenging yourself? Once you know the answer, you can always use this to measure your progress and take your next calculated step.

Other ways to start challenging yourself to learn and grow are:

  1. Make changes to your daily routine – Don’t settle for mediocre just because everyone else is doing it. Your challenges and risk experiences are what’s going to make you stronger.
  2. Learn something new – Every time you try something new, you are learning and expanding your skills.
  3. Face your fear – Take risk regardless of the outcome; it is still growth experiences. Even if you’re scared, it shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you want to do.
  4. Take small steps – There really is no such thing as “fail” if you get something out of the experience. From a positive outlook ‘Fail’ can mean ‘First attempt at learning.’
  5. Make physical and mental change – Step away from all the chaos or technology. Focus on making some physical and mental improvements so you’ll be healthy in the face of obstacles.
  6. Be curious – do not give up in the face of challenges; get curious. Explore different methods for overcoming these challenges.

How does your comfort zone impact the business world

Since the market is always changing, your business needs to be constantly adapting to new trends, competitors and environments.

From a business view point, staying in your comfort zone can cost you a lot. It means being too comfortable with the traditional method; we call this cost of inaction. It is the negative impact of not changing (doing nothing) instead of modernizing or find more efficient methods to run the business. To understand more about the impacts of cost of inaction, read this blog.

Conclusion

Stepping outside your comfort zone is an almost mandatory factor in personal growth. Sticking to habit and routine will get you nowhere. Take the risk, be expose to the risk of failing and overcome it. Where there is risk of failure, there is also the probability of succeeding. Do not miss out on opportunities simply because of your fear of losing or fear of the unknown got in your way of even trying in the first place.

Our comfort zone is our place with no minimum fear / risk where we know what come’s next and can plan accordingly. When you get too comfortable and stop challenging yourself to learn, grow and try new things, that’s when you know – you need to step out of your comfort zone.

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