Top 10 tips to get out of your comfort zone

I’ve been in some dangerous places before, from, operating tables to a collapsed lung in a hospital bed, but do you want to know the most dangerous place I’ve been? Its in my comfort zone! The place where dreams die and in effect you do to.
The comfort zone is a safe place where we don’t risk anything, but neither do we grow. Let’s face it the comfort zone is a dangerous place to be.

What actually is the comfort zone?

A comfort zone is a psychological state at which you feel at ease, safe and in control of what is going on, your often in this mental state when things are familiar, when everything is “how it should be.”  sounds great right? Wrong! Although I would pester you all to have a routine and add discipline to your life, it’s great to change things up once in a while.

So where did the comfort zone come from?

To my knowledge, this term was first coined by the psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson, who explained that a state of relative comfort generated a constant level of performance. In their experiment on rats in 1908. This would suggest that being in your comfort zone is a good place to be, but further into their findings they noticed that a certain amount of anxiety and stress can actually help aid performance, however they found that when they put the rats under to much stress (electric shock) the performance of the rats began to decline. This experiment has also been strengthened by similar and more recent studies.
This theory is known as Yerkes-Dodson’s law and can be easily understood by the diagram below.
 
Before we look deeper into how to get out of your comfort zone, let’s look at these three zones in more detail.
  • The comfort zone
  • The optimal performance zone
  • The danger zone
The comfort zone is when you experience low levels of anxiety otherwise known as arousal, this can lead to lack of motivation and boredom. Then you have the optimal performance zone, this is where you want to be, feeling a bit uneasy which increases attention and interest making you perform at a better level. When arousal becomes to much eg you get to scared or to stressed this can actually have a negative effect on you putting you in the danger zone, making you panic, burnout, lose concentration and ultimately lowering your performance.
The way I like to think of it is abit like a see saw… or even better Goldilocks and the three bears. To small of a bowl of anxiety and you won’t grow, to big of a bowl of stress and you will be sick but if you get the size of the bowl of arousal justtt righttt… you will perform optimally. You’ve just got to get the right balance. Although this law can be influenced by other factors such as introversion its basically a general rule. Exams have just passed so let’s use that as an example, Think about the anxiety you face during exams, if your anxiety levels are at an optimum level you will be energized and focused, however, if you are over anxious you’ll get nervous and panic and if you’re levels are to low you won’t get anything done at all. This.

How do you know if you’re in your comfort zone?

Your comfort zone is a part of your life and has been for all of your years so there would be no surprise if you have grown accustomed to it, it’s been built from your routines and habits so it’s going to become a natural place to stay.
Here’s some signs that your stuck in your comfort zone:
  • You feel very unmotivated and nothing new excites you.
  • You are not open minded and you do not experience new things as they do not “fit into” your comfort zone.
  • You are afraid to take risks as you believe it’s better in your comfort zone, meaning you miss out on great opportunities.
  • You do the same thing day in and day out, you don’t feel like you’re living, you’re just surviving.
  • You feel like you haven’t levelled up in a while.

Why am I stuck inside my comfort zone?

All of us are different and in effect our comfort zones are different, you might be scared to talk in public and I might be scared to talk to girls, we’re all wired differently. These comfort zones are like safety belts (disclaimer, I’m not advising you to take yours off :p) they make us feel secure, yet when we step out of our comfort zone we begin to feel stressed or anxious and through evolution, natural selection and a load of other psychology theories our brain has taught us to avoid these scenarios, cave Men locked themselves into caves until they had to hunt and we’re very similar, we only step outside our comfort zone if we have to.

Why should you leave your comfort zone?

I think a good place to start is with Bill Eckstrom’s story, where he was fired from his job which pushed him out of his comfort zone. He believes that comfort will ruin your life and discomfort will help you grow. Which then lead to his theory of the four growth rings:
 
A bit like the Yerkes and Dodson law these four rings represent living environments that promote or hinder growth. Have you ever heard that a goldfish only grows to the size of its environment, well your not to dissimilar.
Let’s look at these four rings:
  • Stagnation: This is where there is no creativity, you have to follow to many steps and no independent thinking, by not holding yourself accountable you don’t grow, you just survive like I stated earlier.
  • Order: Is the next ring, this is where most people sit at, this would be most similar to your comfort zone. As humans we like to be here, we know the outcomes of what we do, everything is predictable. This may be nice and cozy but you can not grow here, which leads us on to the next ring.
  • Complexity: This is where things become unpredictable, you should seek discomfort as it helps you grow.
  • Chaos: This is the opposite of stagnation, like the Yerkes and Dodson law to much is going on. This is when we have no predictability in what’s going to happen.
There’s also many other reasons why you should leave your comfort zone which we will discuss now.
  • Adversity effect: This is how i define fortitude “strength in the face of adversity.“ it takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone but you will be a lot better for it, the word courage is rooted back to the word cor which is Latin word for heart. Its about showing strength. By stepping out of your comfort zone you will experience things for what they truly are, there’s going to be bumps along the way but you will be more adapted to handling these situations.
  • Productivity boost: Comfort is the biggest killer of productivity, it absorbs you into procrastinating and not getting anything done. Without a little dose of anxiety deadlines seem to get past of for “another time” and expectations for yourself are lowered, a great way you can combat this is by using the Eisenhower matrix which you can learn more about by clicking here.
  • Larger limits: By slowly creeping out of your comfort it will expand and grow with you, as you move forward your comfort zone will get bigger meaning you will be able to partake in more things without having that initial fear.
  • Comfort Kills creativity: By allowing your comfort zone you allow yourself to experience new things without limitations, you see things from a different perspective allowing creativity to flow.
  • Comfort Kills confidence: When you leave your comfort zone it’s going to be a bit scary at first but by achieving Your goals you will feel empowered and confident in your own abilities, if you’ve read any of my blogs before you will understand that confidence is key as it helps you overcome many obstacles in life.
  • Feel more alive: As i said earlier, when you’re stuck in your comfort zone you are just surviving, you’re not really living. Life’s so mundane and boring if you don’t experience anything new. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!
Let’s face it, your comfort zone isn’t really about comfort, it’s more about fear, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, whatever the case may be It comes from fear. I’ve struggled a lot with these issues myself, low self esteem, not a lot of confidence, they all seem to roll into one big disaster. But here I present you the answer!
This book feel the fear and do it anyway is already my favorite book and do you want to know the best part about it? I’ve not even read the whole book yet but it’s crammed full of useful information that I have implemented into my life that has helped me become a better… ME!
I strongly advise you to grab yourself a copy of this book before you miss out on some great opportunities due to fear, you can do so by clicking here.
So let’s get into what you’re here for.

Top 10 tips to get out of your comfort zone

Now you know that you're in the comfort zone and you know what you're missing out on, you understand that it is necessary to break out of this viscous circle to live a more fulfilled life. For this to happen we must be willing to experience a small amount of anxiety.

1. Become aware of what's outside your comfort zone

Hopefully from what you've already read this should be a bit easier, but try coming up with your own things that you are afraid of doing because of the possibility of failure. Then with a pen and a piece of paper, draw a circle and place the things that you are afraid of on the outside of your circle and the things you feel comfortable doing, on the inside. This allows you to have a visual representation of your comfort zone is.

2. Become clear about your aims

 With the list of what makes you uncomfortable look into them in finer detail. Like in the example I said earlier you might be scared of public speaking, but why? Do you not like the sound of your voice? Is it that your not used to big groups? Or it simply you've never done it before? By understanding why you scared you can either avoid it or even better, adapt and grow from it.

3. Seek discomfort

One way of escaping the the boundaries of the comfort zone is by expanding it. Put yourself in a position where you know discomfort is going to arise or even do things that are in your comfort zone but with a bit of pressure, for example you might feel comfortable talking to a friend but try pushing the amount of time that you hold eye contact with them. The more wiggle room you have, the easier things will be.

4. Small steps are better than no steps

It's great to start trying out things that make you feel uncomfortable like in the last tip but you don't want to jump in head first, instead take small steps for progress so you don't become overwhelmed. Do the things that you are afraid of but on a smaller level. If you would like to learn more about small steps to progress, read my most popular blog kaizen.

5. Loss to lesson 

See failure as a teacher, something you can learn from. Fear of failure is the main reason for not stepping outside of your comfort zone. Learn from your experiences and implement what you have learnt to see success!

6. You are the average...

They say that your the average of the 5 people you spend most time around, so if you want to live life on the edge of your comfort zone, start hanging around with people who are doing what you want to do, they will influence you and help you change your behavior.

7. Excuses, excuses

Try not to avoid challenging yourself but if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed, just be honest with yourself and those around you. Admit that you're anxious instead of always saying that you are busy, not only can this seem rude but you might find that other people are in the same position as you.

8. Look for the benefits 

Instead of constantly thinking about what could go wrong, try thinking about what could go right. Could this get you a new job? Or the dream partner? Always keep your motivation in mind.

9. Why so serious?

In life you can't take yourself to seriously, have a laugh. If you make a mistake, just laugh and move on. It's inevitable that your going to to hit bumps along the way but don't worry about it, it's part of the process.

10. Have fun

I know this tip might sound a bit cliche but stepping outside your comfort zone can seem like a scary thing but if done correctly it can be great fun! You get to experience new things and learn things about yourself you never knew before.

Should you ever go back to your comfort zone?

Every so often It's advisable to nip back home to your zone as you don't want your anxiety levels to build up to much, just pop in for a visit and then straight back out to living your life to the fullest!

If you have any further questions, remarks or requests for what you would like to see more of, you can comment here on the blog, or message us on Instagram, Facebook or email.

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