As humans we all need comfort; It is one of our basic needs.
At the same time, we need growth.
I’ve realized that there are a lot of quotes around this idea that in order to do something amazing we need to get out of our comfort zones. It’s some of the most common self-improvement advice out there.
First, I’ll ask why comfort zones are so bad? I mean in my comfort zone is my family, friends, work, music, books, movies, you name it.
While the “comfort zone” is a place of safety, it’s a place where steps of progress can happen without going out on a whim.
Comfort zones create room for one to work on their skills and build their character. Taking this time to invest in oneself can increase confidence to take on new opportunities, challenges, risks, and experiences elsewhere – expanding one out of their comfort zone, at their own pace.
Expanding outside this zone can definitely result in growth but stretching too far can also lead to unpleasant consequences.
Jumping outside of one’s comfort zone can be different for each individual. Some may excel in a fast-paced, learning environment while others are prone to anxiety and exhaustion. For instance, an employee who says yes to managing a project that they know nothing about will not only hurt the individual, but the company as well.
There are moments when staying in the comfort zone is the smart thing to do.
Be careful not to get too comfortable. Staying in the comfort zone is like wearing blinders. When opportunities arise, people may convince themselves that whatever it is, isn’t for them. When thoughts like that occur, walls that separate someone from what makes them uncomfortable get thicker.
When risks are taken, the walls start coming down, making it easier to step outside the comfort zone.
It’s easy to do the same things you’ve always done and can feel overwhelming to step outside the familiar.
“Don’t give up on something straight away – it’s rare that people are good at something the first time they try it.” Richard Branson
While some tasks might be unpleasant, they might also be necessary.
Consistently, we’re faced with situations where we need to adapt our behavior. Just as a mountaineer trains and adapts their body, so should we.
Be mindful of who you are. Don’t push yourself so badly that your life becomes miserable.
Rather than jumping right into speaking at an industry event, sign up for a public speaking class. Rather than speaking up in the boardroom, start by speaking up in smaller meetings and see how it feels.
Stumbling may occur, but it’s a part of the process. In doing so, we may gain a new perspective, boost our confidence, make new connections, and/or learn a new skill.