How to Get Out of your Comfort Zone
Eat the same breakfast? Drive the same route to work? Sit in the same chair each evening to watch TV? Watch the same type of film or programme every time you go onto Netflix? Go on the same dog walking route or run the same path every day? Have the same conversations with your partner every day? Mmm, you’re definitely in your comfort zone – and isn’t it ‘feet up’ type of comfortable! But when we are in this zone, we don’t do much learning or ‘stretching’, we just plod along, trailing life behind us.
It’s not until we dip our toes outside of our comfort zone that we embrace growth and learning. It’s here that we can learn new ideas or have adventures trying out new things; activities that are a little or a lot out of the ordinary for us, or perhaps things that you have never tried or haven’t done for a long time. And although it’s not a comfortable feeling at first, it sure is stimulating!
A friend of mine has been diagnosed with anxiety and she continually amazes me by stepping out of her comfort zone. Going anywhere where she doesn’t know the exact steps or etiquette gives her great anxiety but she has recently moved to London on her own and started a new job. She has joined a new yoga class and started ice-skating lessons. She says she procrastinates and drags her heels before she does anything new but do you know what? She still does it! And that makes her amazing in my eyes.
This Stretch Zone is where we challenge ourselves, learn and grow. We can always just dip our toes into it and then back into our comfort zone and this way our comfort zone gradually stretches as we grow.
What is ‘The Panic Zone’?
The panic zone is usually a step too far for us right now. It could be anything like public speaking at work or jumping out of an aeroplane. Are you in the panic zone for anything right now, i.e. at work? What could you do to get yourself back into the stretch zone? Learn a new skill? Go on a course? Ask for help?
You’ll know what is currently in your panic zone. It’s not a ‘never ever’ zone, perhaps just a ‘not right now’ zone, and that’s okay.
Look at the Different Areas of Your Life
List the different areas of your life i.e. work, relationships, social activities, exercise, mental health etc., and beside each category write down if you are in your comfort zone (c), stretch zone (s) or the panic zone (p) in each area. Now ask yourself:
- What’s my overall conclusion when I look at those areas of my life? How much am I in the comfort, panic or stretch zones for each area?
- If the balance doesn’t look too good, what changes would I like to make to each of these areas of my life that would help me to grow, learn and challenge myself a little bit further than I’m doing now?
Life is for living and moving forward. It’s those little baby steps that we take that can lead us onto the next part of the journey we call life.
So go on, find out about that college course you’ve always wanted to do, enquire online about the virtual Zumba class, ask at work to go on a course that will help you feel more confident in your career, plan the trip you’ve always wanted to go on but ‘stuff’ has held you back, or even just sit in a different chair to watch your favourite programme on Netflix – mix it up a little! Time to be brave and dip a toe outside your comfort zone.
“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both.” – Brene Brown