We all have a comfort zone. It’s that warm, friendly place that welcomes you with open “arms.” It’s the small office, cubicle or glowing computer screen calling your name, pulling you into its grip. The zone could be something as simple as your routine between nine and five, including all the trappings of work. After work is complete, it most certainly includes your home life as well. Your comfort zone could be a bit more complex and include travel, conferences and other activities within your industry.
Your comfort zone is, well, comfortable. And while being in your comfort zone potentially creates small growth potential, most people do not venture far enough from their comfort zone to create opportunity. That’s a mistake.
Most dramatic growth is created when you step outside of your comfort zone. Taking small risks greatly enhances your ability to grow while not putting you into too much of a danger zone. As you get better at handling small risks, your tolerance for risk becomes greater. Practice makes perfect and as you excel at the challenges you encounter, your threshold for risk also increases. You begin to stretch more and your growth will increase exponentially.
The problem, however, most people encounter is a feeling that when they are outside their comfort zone, they are stepping into the terror zone. That shouldn’t be the case at all and although there will be some discomfort on the perimeter of your comfort zone, it is still a long way before reaching the terror zone. The benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone will far outweigh the drawbacks of a “life gone static” inside the zone.
Let’s look at the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone:
- Enhances creativity - You need to think outside the box. Creativity grows rapidly when you step outside your comfort zone.
- Builds confidence - Being confident creates a feeling of self importance.
- Change will come easier to you - Taking small risks will allow you to adapt to change much more easily.
- Helps you deal with failure better - You won’t be perfect at everything you do outside of your comfort zone. Know that you will fail at a few things you try and that is quite ok.
- Provides a new perspective - Not everything that happens in this world happens in your bubble. It’s great to see life from another perspective every once in a while.
- Provides growth and independence - You are responsible for you. You should not be depending upon anyone other than you and stepping outside of your comfort zone will help you become more independent.
- Allows you to gain more control of your life - When you stay in our comfort zone too long, you allow your routine to control you instead of you controlling your routine. Step out and gain control.
With all these great benefits to stepping out of your comfort zone, what are some ways to actually make the first move to go beyond where you are now:
Go solo - A great way to step out is to step out alone. Try going to the movies on your own, having lunch alone or going away for the weekend on your own. These simple exercises will boost your independence and confidence and help you gain control of your life.
Do everyday things differently - Take a new route to work without using your GPS. Wear a color or garment that you would not normally wear. Ladies, wear an accessory that wouldn’t normally be “you.” Guys, wear a bowtie instead of your traditional neck tie. People will begin to remark about this new “you.” Changing it up a bit is so simple and the results are so great.
Get crazy (just a lil bit) - Have you ever bought lunch for the entire office? If you are short cash, bring in donuts and put them on a tray, drape a white cloth napkin over your arm and deliver them from office to office as your way to say “thanks for being an awesome coworker.” If you are flat broke, make paper flowers at home (YouTube has great videos for this) and hand deliver them to the people you work with -- I promise you it will be a day to remember and your coworkers will love you even more.
Present yourself - Offer a lunchtime presentation or prepare a speech about something you are passionate about. Want to save the whales or clean up a local stream or talk about the benefits of a vegetarian diet? I am confident others will want to hear about it too, even if it’s only a small group. Public speaking is one of the biggest fears of all. Overcome this fear and you will be well on your way to stepping outside your comfort zone.
Do something completely new and silly - The next time you are in a crowded elevator, turn to face the entire group and say these words, “I guess you are all wondering why I called this meeting.” You will have at least one or two that will laugh at your joke. If not, no big deal, get off at your floor and get on with your day. Learning to laugh at yourself is important. You are allowed to fail, and you are allowed to be foolish.
Volunteer - There are hundreds of worthy causes that need your help. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or shelter. The genuine gratitude shown by those you serve will help you understand just how important you really are in this life. Just as important, you will gain perspective on what really is essential in life -- a smile, a hug and a good deed.
The above ideas are just a starting place for you. As you get used to stepping outside of your comfort zone, your tolerance for new and different things will grow and you will begin to thirst for all of the amazing adventures you’ll find in this huge world we all live in.
Your comfort zone will forever be growing and you will be growing as well. As you stretch your zone your are stretching your limits. Look back to that first push from your comfort zone and you will finally see why being stuck there is not beneficial to you. You are capable of greatness and there is no one greater at being you than you.
I especially can’t wait to be on the elevator when you turn and say, “I guess you are wondering why I called this meeting.” Tell me about the ways you step outside your comfort zone. Add a comment to the section below.