Why it’s important to get outside the comfort zone

by | Mar 8, 2019

There is a series of images that are often shared on social media sites showing you that “magic happens outside the comfort zone”. It’s very inspiring and very true. However, it doesn’t really tell us why we should get outside the comfort zone. Furthermore, I am not convinced it motivates, or inspires, people to do so.

It’s a bit like reading self-help, and how to books. They are full of knowledge and useful advice, but this is just information. How you use this information is what’s important. By using, or acting on the information, you are much more likely to feel and live the benefits.

Information without action is only information.

The internet is crammed with information. You can learn anything you want. How to live a happier life, how to have less stress in your life, how to be at peace with yourself. The list goes on, and on.

By taking action, and getting outside the comfort zone, you move from a place of learning to discovery. You will be able to peel back the layers and discover what lies beneath. What’s at your core. You will uncover your own ability and realise your own potential. With your own eyes, you will see how you can enlarge your life, and your comfort zone will grow with it. You will also discover that you have the means and ability to deal with difficult situations. And what was a difficult situation in the past will now seem insignificant as it becomes a building block in your confidence and resilience.

When you get outside the comfort zone you have opportunities that you would not otherwise have. But what happens if you prefer to stay in the comfort zone?

“Even the smallest changes in our daily routine can create incredible ripple effects that expand our vision of what is possible.” 
Charles F. Glassman

Life inside the Comfort Zone

Humans are creatures of habit. Most of us do not like change. We like to feel safe and secure. In fact, most of us are not aware that the desire to feel safe and secure is driving our decision-making process. Feeling safe and secure underpins our behaviours too.

We are also very skilful at rationalising our behaviours and decisions. This shows up as our excuses for not getting outside the comfort zone. And there can be a cost to this.

Consider the man who has been wronged and hurt by a friend. He can choose to forget about it and move on, or he can tell his friend exactly what is going on. And dare I say it, how he is feeling!

But there is a fear. He knows his friend does not take criticism very well and that he could be making the situation worse. His friend might lose his temper and fall out with him. The mind can run wild with the “what ifs”, which of course, are all in the imagination. The first choice is within the comfort zone and the second is in the unknown, outside the comfort zone.

Staying in the comfort zone means he will have to deal with his hurt and accept his friend’s behaviour. And, his friend will never get the opportunity to know that he did something wrong, leaving him in a position where he might repeat the behaviour again. But surely that is better than going outside the comfort zone and having to deal with the potential conflict?

Limitations within the Comfort Zone

Living inside your comfort zone means that you do not get new experiences. It can be debilitating. Think of the person who is afraid to leave the house and meet new people, even though she would really like to… Unless she gets outside her comfort zone she will be stuck there.

Again, she can rationalise it and say that she does not need to meet new people. After all, most people aren’t that nice and by being close to people she will get hurt again. She’s happy the way she is. But how different could her life be if she did something different. And it only needs to be a baby step.

You see, moving out of the comfort zone doesn’t have to be a huge adrenaline fuelled experience. Think of it more like sticking your head over a wall for a quick peep and dropping back again. And the more you do it, the easier it gets and the larger your comfort zone will become.

Life outside the Comfort Zone

Most of us are in and out of our Comfort Zones every day. New situations and difficulties arrive, we deal with them, and move on. That does not mean we should not seek out and embrace new opportunities to get outside the comfort zone. Especially if the only times we do get out of it are part and parcel of our daily work or home life.

Doing something radically different and choosing to get out of the Comfort Zone is a different story altogether.

At many of our Corporate Firewalks and Glass Walks we will present the experience as an opportunity to get out of the Comfort Zone. From time to time someone will protest saying that they already get out of the Comfort Zone every day and therefore don’t see the point in taking part. This is probably true, but this response is certainly worth some personal enquiry.

If this sounds like how you would feel or think it would be worth spending some time contemplating these questions.

Do you really get out of your comfort zone, or are you simply firefighting? Is getting out of your comfort zone purposeful and do you reflect on these occurrences? Another consideration is, are there other reasons why you not want to take part? These can be unconscious reasons that are hard for anyone apart from the you to pick up; and require being completely honest and open to yourself. Remember, it is very easy to justify your reasons, so it is important to look at things from a different angle. The real caveat with this is that unless you go to the limits, or outside your comfort zone, you might never know what these reasons are.

Challenge you Comfort Zone

Choose to do something this week that will get you outside your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be anything too mad or adrenaline fuelled. Remember, sticking your head over the wall is as good a start as any.

When you decide what you are going to do, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings in the lead up to it. Are you excited or fearful? Has your heart started beating faster? After you do what you decided to do, you should reflect on whether you just went for it or did you procrastinate? Did you need someone to support you or were you happy to go it alone? How did you feel during and after? How are you feeling now?

The answers to all these questions will give you greater insights to who you are and what makes you tick. This information is super valuable for how you grow as a person and will leave you in good stead when you are going out of your comfort zone with less control. They are the building blocks required for confidence and resilience.

Do a little often and do it well.

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