Your life may be full of opportunities to step outside of your comfort zone, but seizing them can be a real challenge.
What Is the Comfort Zone?
The comfort zone is a set of typical behaviors, routines, and actions that is familiar. It consists of your regular habits and routines where you experience low levels of stress and anxiety with the little-to-no risk involved.
People who are said to “live in the comfort zone” usually take minimal risks and receive minimal rewards in return.
What to Expect When Leaving Your Comfort Zone
You may have thought that there is only being in or out of your comfort zone. But there is more to this fascinating and chilling concept than what meets the eye.
But first, here’s what you should know about the four stages of leaving your comfort zone towards your growth zone.
- Comfort zone
If you’re starting at ground zero, this is the state you’re in. It feels secure, and you feel in control because you’re familiar with this space and know what to expect.
For instance, eating the same breakfast every morning and denying any other food because it’s not in your routine is a perfect example of staying within your comfort zone.
- Fear zone
This is the second stage that introduces fear and anxiety. Excuses, lack of self-confidence, and being persuaded to stay in the comfort zone are obstacles you may face when trying to leave the comfort zone.
For example, maybe you learn that oat milk would be a nutritious substitute for cow’s milk for your breakfast, but you’ve never tried it before, and that scares you.
- Learning zone
The learning zone is the cure to the fear zone. As the zone title suggests, this is where you learn about the new endeavor you’re about to engage in and acquire new skills to overcome the challenge.
Perhaps you learn about how oat milk is great for you. You watch YouTube videos on how it’s made, making you feel comfortable about adding it to your breakfast menu.
- Growth zone
Here is where you take what you’ve learned and try it out.
The growth zone is where you learn to set new goals and live them out, regardless of how well you do. The goal is to realize your strengths and use them to obtain new outcomes.
Let’s say you replace cow’s milk with oat milk for your next breakfast. Whether you like it or not, you tried it and evolved your skills when picking and trying new food. Great job!
20 Ways to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you want to step out of your comfort zone, here are 20 things you can do today!
Make an “Uncomfortable” list.
Cold showers, waking up early, going for a run, taking the bike instead of the subway, calling your mother on the phone—what things make you uncomfortable? Listing out the things out of your comfort zone is a great way to visualize something you can do.
Action Step: Create your own list! Write down 10-20 things you can do every day that makes you feel uncomfortable. Pick a few to do each day.
Getting in front of the camera can be an introvert’s nightmare. Still, it can help boost confidence and verbal proficiency as well. The trick is to do something that you enjoy so much that you forget the camera is there.
It might be a bit uncomfortable in the beginning, but stick with it, and you’ll likely see your skills improve!
Action Step: Whether it’s your gym workout, your daily routine at work, or a random enjoyable hobby, record a video of yourself talking to step out of your comfort zone.
Ask deep questions
Having frequent and open conversations about various topics is a simple technique that can lead to exciting results. Knowing how to ask good questions is also an essential skill that can be used to learn about what you fear and push you further past what you already know.
Action Step: Dig deep. Ask a profound question from this question list the next time you want to get to know someone.
Start a conversation with a stranger.
By striking a conversation with a stranger, you both enter the fear zone and engage in the learning zone. You might even come out of the conversation forming a personal connection or learning something new!
Action Step: Strike up a conversation with a random stranger! A great way to start is to notice and comment about a trinket or item that the other person has on them. People love to talk about their own interests!
Switch up your routine just a little! For instance, if you regularly eat alone at your cubicle instead of with your colleagues, try moving to a public table and eating alone. If you’re comfortable enough, you might even want to try and invite your colleagues over for a lunch chat or scope out a new restaurant venue.
Action Step: Find that one tiny thing you can do to make a more significant difference and break out of your comfort zone!
Become a “Yes” person
You may have a friend excitedly say, “Let’s try out this new restaurant!” or, “Let’s go on a road trip!” You may not like the idea of trying new food, and you may be a bit fearful about leaving your hometown, but saying yes will help you leave your comfort zone.
Action Step: Aim to say 3 “Yeses” per day. If you still have some to say at the end of the day, say yes to quick things you want to do to improve yourself. Reading a few pages from your favorite book or doing ten minutes of meditation are a couple examples.
Try a new skill
By trying something new, you enter the learning zone! Try adding a new skill to your arsenal—something you’ve never made a methodical plan to
Action Step: Which activity will you try to build your confidence and personal growth? Try one of these skills in this skills list.
You may not hear this every day, but giving up a bit of control can be a great way to break from your comfort zone.
In this state of not controlling everything, you create opportunities for the element of surprise to occur and for you to adapt to. After accomplishing the difficult feat, you’ll feel more capable of handling more random situations and expanding your comfort zone in the future!
Action Step: Pick a random country to make your next vacation destination. Ask your friend for a random restaurant to go to. Pull up Google Maps and search for a new local gym or yoga spot. Get flexible!
Workout in a fun new way
This method is a technique that takes you out of your comfort zone mentally and physically.
By trying a different exercise than usual, your neuroplasticity grows, giving you the ability to take on new challenges and learn how to maneuver through them.
Action Step: Haven’t started working out? Pick a fun workout from this list. Already doing exercise? See what new methods you can introduce to increase your intensity.
Reframe your stress
Experiencing your anxiety and stress about stepping out of your comfort zone can be a real drag, so why not change it? The question is: what will you do with it?
Action Step: Try this. The next time you feel negative about doing something new, take away the label of “good” or “bad.” Just take hold of the feeling and use it as fuel to easily engage in your latest and greatest activity.
Many of us are afraid, which is why we don’t try anything new because of the villain that we call “rejection.” But failure can be a golden opportunity. Check out this TED talk on how Jia Jiang used rejection to his advantage:
Get on stage
77% of the population has some sort of fear regarding public speaking. To conquer your fears, why not try getting on stage? Over time, public speaking will train your fear to lessen and develop your neuroplasticity to extend you past your comfort zone in other aspects of life.
Action Step: Public speaking comes in many forms—try joining Toastmasters, speaking at your local open mic, or giving a speech in front of a close group of friends.
Start a creative endeavor.
Creative acts can be one of the most fun and rewarding mental activities that you can engage in. Creativity is about stepping into the unknown and learning in a new environment.
Action Step: Exercise your original thinking by having fun with some creative challenges!
One of the best ways to ensure that you follow through on your journey is to reward yourself for each task you do.
Action Step: After you accomplish an uncomfortable task, treat yourself to one of your favorite things to do. It can be a bike ride, a short TV show, a conversation with your bestie, or a well-deserved nap.
Either way, rewarding yourself is an excellent idea for creating motivation to try something new!
Read a random book
Reading material that you’re unfamiliar with can help expand your mind and get you thinking in unorthodox ways.
Action Step: Go to the local library or online catalog and pick a topic you’re totally unfamiliar with! If you’re a history buff, try selecting a knitting book. If you’re into computer programming, try graphic design. You can even start less random—if you like to read about Western cooking, why not look into Eastern cuisine?
Be a positive force online.
If you’re really introverted, the good thing about the internet is it can be anonymous. Letting your inner voice be heard online is a great way to build up a little confidence without worrying about real-world consequences.
Switch up your diet
How do you eat? One study shows that certain types of food that we put into our bodies, like brown rice, vegetables, spices, and even salmon, can positively enhance our thinking and boost our brainpower.
Action Step: Try some new unique and/or healthy foods! Here are some hearty plant-based meals you can try to test this technique out!
Give a compliment
Compliments can be hard to give, especially when we’re not used to giving them. However, a well-thought-out compliment can boost the mood if given at the right time!
Action Step: Give a genuine compliment to a colleague or relative.
The “side road” mentality
When attempting something new, you may think that you must give it your all or not try at all, and this isn’t the case at all. Make the tasks as easy as possible on yourself.
For example, if you’re learning to drive, you don’t need to jump straight on the freeway. Instead, you can take a slower side road and get comfortable building up your tolerance.
Action Step: Take a look at your lists and replace them with the most minor things you can do to move towards your growth zone.
Find your community
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Whether you want to kayak, eat better, exercise, quit something, or start something, there is a community in place to ensure that you are supported.
This process is ongoing, so surround yourself with people who root for you and motivate you while taking on this new challenge!
Action Step: Find a group you feel welcomed in! Try places like Facebook groups or Meetup.com to find your community.
What are The Benefits of Leaving the Comfort Zone?
There are both advantages and disadvantages to staying in your comfort zone. Take a gander:
- Being confident: Participating in everyday activities usually makes you better at them. When you draw on your experience of a past task and become better at it, this creates a healthy self-assurance, also known as confidence.
- Minimizes risks: Staying in your comfort zone is helpful if you want to focus on what you’re doing currently and not introduce new stimuli or activities. After all, routine activities tend to be less risky than unknown ones.
- Rejuvenating: After leaving your comfort zone to try something new, returning to the familiar can help you physically and psychologically recharge before turning to more anxiety-inducing situations that seem uncertain. This is especially true for introverts who like to spend time alone.
- Limited new skills: By staying in your comfort zone, you may push aside the chance to develop new skills and the opportunity to improve your weaknesses.
- Complacency: Not performing new activities can make you complacent. You might miss out on growth opportunities by not experiencing new challenges, and as a result, feel lackluster in life and unmotivated.
- No risk, no reward: This common phrase speaks to the simple notion that you won’t accomplish anything new if you don’t try something new. Even if it’s negligible risk, big rewards might come to those who at least try to make it happen.
Growing from your comfort zone grants you new experiences and novel tools to keep and build upon as you move towards your growth zone.
And remember, it all starts with just one step.
For more reading, check out this resource to supercharge your life: 10 Life-Changing Steps to Become the Best Version of Yourself.