As Shadé Zahrai so eloquently put it; “If we stay inside our comfort zone, nothing changes. We don’t grow. We’re not challenged. We don’t get to find out what we’re made of. Instead, we’re comfortable. Life is easy. Sure, some may opt for the easy road because it seems more simple in the short-term, but they end up denying themselves of the opportunity to shape themselves into stronger, more confident, more resilient individuals. The longer-term benefits far outweigh the relative comfort of the short-term.”
If you always stay within your comfort zone, everything you encounter is familiar and safe. This may be where you prefer to be emotionally, but if you choose not to expand your awareness of what else is “out there”, then you could be missing out on transformational opportunities, both personally and professionally. When you open your heart and mind to new possibilities, you are challenging yourself in a positive way. Moving from the familiar to the unknown may require courage or even a leap of faith, but the rewards can be enormous.
If you are in a perpetual state of comfort where you are never stretched, you are unlikely to experience the emotion known as fear. The unknown may cause fear – you don’t know what you don’t know, and that may be scary. However, this fear a necessary emotion to manage so you can develop and grow. The brain does not know the difference between the real and the imagined, so it creates the same response in the body whether you are actually experiencing something or just thinking about what might happen. If you fixate on the perceived difficulties of stepping outside your comfort zone, then you will perpetuate the fear response and you are even more unlikely to take the next step. Albert Einstein said, “If at first, the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it”. I think what he was really saying is that it’s OK to feel fearful that your approach might not work, but don’t let that hold you back from trying.
Stepping outside your comfort zone brings the possibility of new encounters, experiences, people, ideas and ways of working. Sometimes these may not be aligned to your usual approach and may lead to you feeling uncomfortable, emotionally or even physically. If you can manage your emotions well, so that you do not become overwhelmed by your situation, then your resilience can grow. Your responses to situations and to others are better and you can approach life with a more positive mindset. SMILE Global offers fantastic resources including our Complete Smile System Solution as well as our individual workshops, all of which have building self-belief and resilience at their core.
By choosing to move out of your comfort zone and opening your mind to new possibilities, you experience fresh perspective on what’s happening to you and those around you. When you step outside your comfort zone, you realise that you can achieve more than you ever thought possible and this is liberating. Once liberated from limiting beliefs, you can embrace your creativity and achieve your potential.
In the pursuit of self-actualisation – fulfilling your potential and doing all you are capable of – creativity and problem-solving skills increase. The choice to free yourself from mental and emotional constraints and embrace a positive attitude in all situations that you encounter will take you much further on your journey to reaching your full potential. The most successful innovators are not afraid to move outside their comfort zone, even if the rest of the world might think they are pushing the boundaries too far.
Of course, there may be times when you need support with stepping outside your comfort zone and that’s OK.
How much a person can grow and develop new knowledge, skills and experience is in part down to how willing they are to push themselves through discomfort. Choosing a growth mindset over a fixed mindset encourages you to actively seek out opportunities to expand your emotional intelligence, skills, competencies and capabilities.
This quote from Brian Tracy sums it up so powerfully: “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
With that in mind, why not take a moment to evaluate your To-Do List… – What’s on there that has been there for a while because it stretches you too far outside your comfort zone?