We’ve all seen one or two inspirational quotes encouraging us to step out of our comfort zone. It tends to be a picture of the sun setting over a beautiful, mountainous landscape with something like “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” written across it.
While it may seem like a cheesy and slightly overused tagline, it is actually worth pushing yourself to do something that you find daunting once in a while – and here’s why.
Psychology Today defines the comfort zone as “the patterned world of our existence, that keeps us relatively comfortable and calm, and helps us stay emotionally even, free from anxiety and worry to a great degree.”
There’s very little stress in the comfort zone – that’s where we feel most ‘at home’.
It sounds pretty appealing, and one might wonder why we can’t simply stay in our comfort zones and lead stress-free lives. We can, of course, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But there are so many benefits of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone every once in a while, that it’s worth giving a try.
Here are the five ways stepping out of your comfort zone can improve your wellbeing.
It can boost your confidence.
Have you ever really wanted to do something that you felt uncomfortable doing – to the point where no matter how nervous it made you feel – you did it anyway? For example, asking a good-looking stranger if they would like a drink, or giving a presentation to a big group. Your heart was racing, your palms were sweating and your cheeks were redder than ever before – but you pushed yourself to do it!
If you have, then you’ll know that overcoming this anxiety can greatly boost your self-esteem. Once you do the thing you’re afraid to do, you feel proud of yourself, and other tasks you would normally find daunting will not seem that challenging. Practicing to step outside your comfort zone every now and then can really improve your self-confidence over time.
It enables personal growth and development.
Challenging yourself allows you to stretch and grow as an individual. When you choose to go down the unfamiliar path, you open yourself up for new opportunities of personal growth and development. It can be daunting as it is often an unknown territory, but also highly rewarding.
Booking a solo trip, interviewing for a job that’s outside of the job environment you are used to, leaving your employment and the security that comes with it altogether to start something of your own – all of these things foster personal development and allow you to grow as an individual. Stepping out of your comfort zone gets you closer to achieving your full potential.
It feels wrong not to do it.
Personally, I tend to get really annoyed with myself when I don’t push myself to do the thing I am afraid of. I feel like I owed it to myself, but didn’t have the guts to do it – and that results in feeling disappointed. For example, not raising a point at a conference I thought of as important – just because I hate public speaking. Or not booking that trip abroad – just because a friend pulled out, leaving me to go on my own.
The feeling of disappointment that comes from not having done it can sometimes be really bitter – and feel worse than the anxiety associated with stepping out of a comfort zone itself.
It helps you cope with unexpected changes better.
Dealing with unexpected life changes, especially when they aren’t positive, can be very challenging for those who are used to leading very stable lives. Sometimes people end up in an unknown territory without having planned for it, and that can be a shock to the system – and a struggle to get used to.
But encouraging yourself to step out of the comfort zone every now and then can boost our ability to deal with unexpected life’s changes. Practicing being in situations that are outside of our comfort zone makes us more adaptable and more able to deal with situations we aren’t necessarily very comfortable with. In the words of philosopher Lao Tsu:
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.”
It makes your life more exciting.
Never leaving your comfort zone can mean that you are missing out on an abundance of exciting things life has to offer. Doing something you’ve never done before; going to explore an unfamiliar culture; learning a new skill or trying out a career you’ve been curious about for a while – all of these things add different flavours to life.
You can choose to listen to what other people tell you about all of the exciting things they have done – or you can choose to go and do them yourself.
Stepping out of our comfort zones is something that we are learning step by step – it can be something that you learn step by step, too. The more you practice, the easier it’ll be. Set yourself small, manageable goals (like making a new acquaintance, or taking a different route to work!) – and reap the benefits it has to offer.
Watch this space for our downloadable “5 Day Challenge” that helps you become better at stepping outside of your comfort zone.
If you enjoyed this post, you should have a read our post on Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown.
Borrowed Roads x