The phrase "comfort zone" came to popularity in the 1990s, after Judith Bardwick mentioned it in her book “Danger in the Comfort Zone.” Here she defines comfort zone as:
“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.”
Being in your ’ comfort zone is a safe place to be where everything is just so and ticking along. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being in our comfort zone, but when we periodically step outside of it, this is when the magic happens and we experience real growth and achievement
However, I am sure that you have noticed we are beings of comfort. By default we desire a place mentally and physically where there is little or no risk or anxiety. We can't deny the fact that life is sometimes about living the unknown it can be scary taking that step but as Benedict Cumberbatch said, “The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.”
No matter how much we intellectually know that facing your fears is an important step towards growing as a person it, it is easier said than done. So, the question remains how to break the monotonous routine and try something new?
Expanding Our Comfort Zone
I think we all know that being comfortable is not a good state to be in all the time but neither is living outside your comfort zone. Leaving your comfort zone now and then brings the opportunity to grow. Our brain wants to protect us and keep us safe, by breaking out of our comfort zone we are putting our brain into a primal response and we experience the feeling of fear. We need to push past this into the learning and growth zones. Fear is not to be avoided but embraced as part of the growth journey. When our brain is subjected to challenges and the unknown it actually responds really well. Dr. Brene Brown beautifully relates comfort zone and vulnerability. According to Brene, when we walk out of our comfort zone, we are opening ourselves to criticism and insults which makes us vulnerable.
We can’t live on a knifes edge all the time so we really need to return to our comfort zone to relax and re-energize, I guess what we are really doing is expanding our comfort zone to include our new growth and experience. Of course there may well be setbacks and failures, but it is possible to step outside of your comfort zone and to have fun and enjoy new things and accept challenges, the rewards will be twofold.
The Benefits of Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
- Growth Opportunity
In a study, it was found that when a mouse was subjected to different situations and environments, they were more motivated and active. The same theory can be applied to human beings. If your daily routine is not working, it is time to experience something new. It doesn’t have to be something big, it could be visiting a new café and trying something different on the menu. Alternatively start a new project or business idea.
- A chance to explore the real you
Moving out of your comfort zone is also about exploring your true self. There are so many choices, traditions, and skills that we haven’t experienced. We prefer to remain in our comfort zone with what we know, where it is always cozy and safe. You could try meditation or learning a new language. Along this voyage, you might find a skill or interest that changes your life for good.
- Get a boost of confidence
Stepping out of our daily routine, even if it is a small step will bring some positive changes to your life. Being in a new situation with new people will open the horizon of learning and growth. Eventually, you will feel empowered and confident. So, even if it is a small step like joining a network group or a big step like starting a new business go for it.
The Bottom Line
As children, we might have struggled with our first day of school because, we were being subjected to a completely new and challenging environment, away from the home. We pass through several such challenges in a lifetime, the key is how do we approach them …head on or do we do everything we can to avoid them. Feelings of vulnerability, fear and uncertainty usually are the things that make us think twice about stepping outside our comfort zone. Perhaps you need a little nudge to be able to visualise and realise what being outside you comfort zone could bring you in terms of fun, growth, challenge . If you are ready to take on the challenge and want to chat and see how I can be part of this journey with you ,flick me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org