Achieve Success by Stepping
Out of Your Comfort Zone
“Dare to learn, to be different, to set your goals, to move out of your comfort zone, to be persistent.” – Unknown
Achieving your goals is not an easy task. The journey towards success takes perseverance and a sense of fearlessness. This is problematic because as human beings, we are naturally wired to seek comfort. Many of us actively avoid the gut-clenching sensation of fear and prefer instead a feeling of peaceful solace. And who can blame us? We are after all, creatures of our genes; a yearning for a safe environment is ingrained in our DNA.
Modern life has not changed us; we still seek comfort, including within our own mind. This phenomenon is known as a “comfort zone”: a behavioural space encompassing familiarity, safety and security. A place where our activities and behaviours consist of routines and patterns that minimize stress, anxiety and risk. And, just as previous generations feared stepping out of their peaceful environment, so too do we avoid stepping out of our comfort zone.
But what is the cost of remaining comfortable? What are the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone? And how can you make it easier to do so?
What is the cost of remaining comfortable?
“A comfort zone is a beautiful space, but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown
Life within your comfort zone is exactly that: comfortable. Your existence consists of the same routines and behaviours. Although the benefit of living within your comfort zone is low anxiety and reduced stress, the result is a sense of complacency and eventually, boredom.
Staying within your comfort zone prevents you from trying new things that might make you feel uncomfortable. Without new activities, challenges, and goals, you are unable to change within this behavioural space and will grow stagnant. It is a beautiful space, but it inhibits growth.
What is preventing you from stepping outside of your comfort zone? In most cases it is fear: fear of experiencing anxiety and stress. However, a healthy dose of fear can be good for you; it is a natural and essential part of growth and can make you feel energized and alive.
Viewed in this way, anxiety can be a positive signal; one that indicates big changes are ahead. “A healthy dose of stress can act as a catalyst for growth and provide a powerful motivation to act”. When you stop letting fear hold you back, you can harness it; using it to change, grow and face your challenges. Only then will you succeed.
What are the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone?
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
While it is true that stepping outside of your comfort zone might entail a feeling of unease, the advantages far out-weigh the disadvantages. When you challenge yourself and push your own boundaries:
- You gain confidence that can’t be had any other way. It changes how you view your world and what you are capable of.
- You prove to yourself that you are willing to take risks. Pushing your boundaries will move you in the direction of both your career and life goals; after all, you cannot grow without taking risks.
- Your brain rewires itself; it becomes more adaptable, stronger and healthier.
- You discover new opportunities that were previously unavailable.
- You become more resilient; you learn how to deal with change and the stress and anxiety that accompanies it. This in turn prepares you for future challenges.
- You learn; with every new experience, you learn and grow as a result. This in turn, expands your comfort zone further.
- You make it easier to set new goals and challenges; “success breeds more success thanks to confidence, experience, learning, and the determination it inspires”.
How can you make it easier to step outside of your comfort zone?
“If you opt for a safe life, you will never know what it’s like to win.” – Richard Branson
Stepping outside of you comfort zone requires taking risks, but there are ways to lessen the stress and anxiety:
- Coach yourself. Ask yourself the same questions that you would ask a friend; this elevates your thinking and gives you perspective.
- Visualize success. Whenever you start to feel fear, create a powerful image of you achieving success.
- Repeat a positive affirmation such as, “I can do this”.
- Adopt an alter ego is who isn’t afraid. Over time, as you become more comfortable you will require this “brave face” less often.
- Enlist the help of a mentor. He/she will have advice for how they got over their fear, which offers comfort as well as new ideas for conquering your own anxiety.
- Break larger goals into smaller challenges. Taking baby steps lessens the anxiety and provides continuous boosts of confidence.
- Identify and confront your fears. For each goal, write down what you are afraid of. This makes it clear what you are aiming to overcome.
- Remain positive. Believing you can succeed ensures you will.
Your comfort zone may be warm and cozy, but it inhibits growth. Staying within that environment is safe but stagnant. In order to achieve success, you need to step outside of it, and keep going. After all, “a ship in a harbour is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for”, and neither are you.
Push your boundaries and you will succeed.