Stepping out of our comfort zone is never easy!
The comfort zone is a familiar, cozy place where we feel safe and secure. It’s the mental and emotional space where routines and habits rule, and it includes thought patterns and behaviours that we’re familiar with. There are no surprises in our comfort zone! One of the reasons we like it so much is because it tends to be free from anxiety and stress – we know what we’re doing, we feel confident in our abilities, and we do not have to think too much.
However, our comfort zone arguably serves as a barrier to growth and development. If we shy away from challenges or situations that would force us to operate in our ‘learning zone’, we are in danger of missing out on some really great opportunities in both our work and personal lives.
Why is it so difficult to do things outside our comfort zone?
There are multiple reasons why moving outside the boundaries of our comfort zone can feel challenging and scary: fear of the unknown; fear of failure; fear of judgement; self-doubt; lack of confidence; physical discomfort; heightened anxiety; and negative experiences in the past. Our old friend, negative self-talk, is likely to be a loud voice in our head telling us that we can’t do this or it’s too difficult. Recognising and understanding these barriers is the first step in overcoming them. With practice, and a willingness to embrace discomfort, we can expand our comfort zone and achieve new levels of success.
We have all had a go at trying new things, learning a new skill, or ‘throwing ourselves in the deep end’ and we lived to tell the tale! Most of the time we find ourselves saying, ‘well, that wasn’t so bad’ or ‘I’m really glad I did that’.
Our articles are always inspired by our own experiences, so you won’t be surprised to learn that Team ICC find ourselves outside our comfort zone at times. In the most recent example, we coached the individual ahead of time, provided lots of encouragement and support, calmed nerves and used positive language. We knew they would nail it, but their inner voice was proving challenging to silence!
Let’s remind ourselves of the benefits of taking that brave step outside our comfort zone:
Personal Growth: Operating outside our comfort zone encourages self-discovery and personal development. We learn more about our strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities as we navigate new challenges.
Increased Confidence: Successfully tackling unfamiliar tasks or situations boosts our self-confidence. Over time, we gain confidence in our ability to handle a wide range of challenges.
Adaptability: Operating outside our comfort zone improves our adaptability and resilience. We become better equipped to handle unexpected changes and adversity.
Enhanced Creativity: Stepping into uncharted territory often requires creative problem-solving. This can stimulate our creativity and help us see solutions and opportunities we might otherwise have missed.
Expanded Skillset: Trying new things can lead to the acquisition of new skills and knowledge. Whether it’s learning a new language, mastering a new software programme, or acquiring a new hobby, these skills can be valuable in various aspects of life.
Broadened Perspectives: Leaving our comfort zone exposes us to different people, cultures, and ideas. This broadens our perspective and increases our understanding of the world around us.
Increased Resilience: Facing and overcoming challenges outside our comfort zone strengthens our mental and emotional resilience. We become more resilient in the face of adversity.
Greater Opportunities: Often, the most significant opportunities lie outside our comfort zone. Taking calculated risks and exploring new territories can lead to career advancements, new relationships, and exciting adventures.
Increased Self-Esteem: Achieving success in unfamiliar territory can boost our self-esteem and self-worth. It reinforces the idea that we are capable of handling new challenges.
New Connections: Venturing outside our comfort zone often involves meeting new people. These connections can lead to valuable relationships both personally and professionally.
Breaking Limits: Operating outside our comfort zone can shatter perceived limits and boundaries we’ve placed on ourselves. This can be incredibly liberating and empowering.
To go back to the example we mentioned above, we can confidently say that our lovely Team ICC member benefited from breaking limits, enhanced creativity and an expanded skillset as a result of stepping outside their comfort zone.
So, while it may be daunting to leave our comfort zone, the rewards and benefits of doing so are numerous. It’s a path to personal growth, increased confidence, and a more achievements. By pushing our boundaries and embracing discomfort, we can unlock our full potential and seize new opportunities that lead to a richer, more meaningful life.