We make ourselves comfortable so we don’t have to manoeuvre through situations that make us anxious. What we forget, however, is that uninspiring, steady performance is the corollary of staying warm and snug inside our comfort zones. Success is the ability to produce new ideas, provide better solutions to life’s biggest problems, and to pioneer new products. None of this is possible if we shelter ourselves in our comfort zone and watch life pass by. Stepping out of your comfort zone could be terrifying but it can also be your life’s best decision.
The question is, why don’t people do it often?
The famous writer Jack Canfield writes that “When you try to achieve life goals, negative images and pre-programmed comfort zones always cancel out your good intentions — no matter how hard you try.” We constantly think, talk, and tell ourselves that we cannot achieve something and by doing so, we reiterate certain self-limiting beliefs we’ve held since childhood. These self-limiting beliefs last even when they don’t serve you well.
Numerous people think they are not leaders or innovators or don’t have the necessary discipline to start a new business or take up additional responsibility. However, their work doesn’t show any such shortcomings. The truth is that once we develop a belief, we not only adhere to it, we continuously reinforce it to ourselves. To overcome this, it’s important to open ourselves to the idea that we could be wrong. The best way to challenge your self-limiting beliefs is to stop being your own bully.
Studies have shown that jurors sometimes have difficulty avoiding the use of evidence that the judge deemed inadmissible when making their final verdicts. Social psychologists use the term “belief perseverance” to explain this attitude: why people cling to their initial beliefs even when new information directly contradicts it.
The good part is that you can successfully challenge your beliefs. If you think of yourself as someone who is fearful, try to think of all the times you showed courage, strength of character and will-power and then ask yourself if you’re holding on to an outdated notion. Challenging your beliefs will change how you see yourself and eventually, how you see the world. You’ll learn more, uncover new skills and in the process, traipse outside your comfort zone.
When you’re trying something new, you’re bound to be stressed or fearful. The antidote to that is not to retreat but to move ahead knowing--and learning-- how to manage your fear or stress. There are various steps you can take to ensure sound physical and mental well-being during the process and none of it advices running back to your comfort zone. The fear of a new environment can be scary but what truly terrifies me is stagnation or staying stuck in the same place--physically and mentally--forever. The real fear should be complacency and consciously, knowingly not putting your abilities to test.
A small step forward is better than a foolish leap or complete inaction. Instead of contemplating and deliberating, try to take a small step towards getting out of your comfort zone. Think of this as stretching one’s comfort zone if not getting completely out of it. For many, it begins by just thinking for they’ve long avoided the subject, and for others, it could just be asking a loved one to give a slight push. Whatever it is, it’s important to act: Take the call, take the step and get started in whatever way you can.
1. Agreeing to something you wouldn’t normally agree to.
2. Trying something new until you feel comfortable.
3. Making a list of small achievable goals and actually achieving them.
If you’ve developed new comfort zones, it means you’ve left your old self behind. Think of stepping outside your comfort zone as an evolving exercise. If you’re already comfortable running five miles, continuing to run five miles is staying in the comfort zone. As you step out of a comfort zone into new discomfort and get used to it, that discomfort becomes your new comfort zone.
Keep testing your boundaries and you’ll find yourself getting closer and closer to your goals.