Most of us have what is called a “comfort zone” – things we are comfortable with doing and will continue to do unless we make the effort to change.
While comfort zones sound like a nice, secure, safe place to be – they can also cause a lot of anxiety and frustration. We like being in the comfort zone because it means things will likely not change for the worse – but what we fail to remember is this also means they can’t change for the better either!
When you’re stuck in your comfort zone, it’s hard to experience new things. It’s hard to develop as a person. You can’t really achieve new things when you do the same things over and over again.
Some examples of the comfort zone:
- Staying in a job you don’t really like but don’t really hate either because it’s easy to do or has benefits/pay you need
- Going out with the same group of friends all the time
- Sticking to a weekly schedule that is the same week after week
- Being passive in making decisions
- Avoiding situations because they make you feel uncomfortable
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you’re probably stuck in your comfort zone. And chances are if you’re stuck in your comfort zone you are feeling the anxiety and frustration that goes along with it. When nothing changes, it’s easy to start feeling bored and restless.
You need to ask yourself: Are you actually happy, or are you just really comfortable.
What Does it Mean to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?
Stepping out of your comfort zone means doing things that make you uncomfortable. It means pushing yourself to explore new things and to make changes in your life.
The “Comfort Zone” is defined as “a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.” You might be asking yourself if you are safe without stress, why on earth would you want to leave?
The thing is, when you stay in the same place in life, you are missing a lot of new opportunities and experiences. When we are in our comfort zone, we know what to expect – everything is familiar to us.
In order to grow, however, we need to be willing to try and learn new things. This is why you need to leave your comfort zone.
Why is it hard to step out of my comfort zone?
It’s totally normal if you don’t want to leave your comfort zone. Most of us naturally feel apprehensive about leaving a place that is safe and secure for the unknown.
It’s also totally normal to have a fear of the unknown. We don’t know what might happen next and we most likely won’t be able to control the outcome. This right here can stir up a lot of feelings of anxiety!
When we stay in our comfort zone, we have a certain element of control over what is going to happen. We know what to expect most days. The issue is when you stay stuck in your comfort zone, you start to feel bored and restless. Sometimes the comfort zone itself can cause anxiety – even if it does seem like a safe and secure place to stay.
Moving past the fear of the unknown isn’t always easy – and it’s sometimes scary to know you won’t always have control over the way things go.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do anything crazy or extreme to step out of your comfort zone. You simply have to be willing to try small new things. For example, you could try ordering something different from your favorite restaurant or you could take a different route to work.
Those two examples might not be earth-shattering things to do but they will help you ease into the bigger changes – starting a new job or changing career fields or even moving somewhere different.
7 Things to Do to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone:
If you’re looking for some ways to get out of your comfort zone, here are some tips:
1. Meet New People, All the Time
This one is a really hard step for most people. We have our existing family and friends, and meeting new people can sometimes be a little daunting.
I recommend going to a website like Meetup.com and finding groups in your area to join. It will definitely help push you out of your comfort zone to join a group and attend a meetup near you – so do it!
You can also meet new people through churches, non-profit organizations, volunteering, going out to venues…make it a point to meet new people regularly and you will be amazed at how this helps you feel more comfortable talking to others and open up new opportunities for you.
Starting with finding new people who share similar interests as you is a great way to start with stepping out of your comfort zone – you already have the peace of mind that at least they share something in common with you.
Joining clubs or volunteering for a cause you believe in can be a great first step to meeting new people. It’s not a huge risk – there’s not much to lose besides maybe a few hours of your time and you can gain new friends and new experiences.
2. Show the World Who You Really Are
It’s time to act completely like yourself. There’s no reason to hide or try to be someone else. Don’t be afraid of what other people think of you. Most people aren’t paying attention anyway.
Be completely open about who you are and what you think. Today, being the real, raw, imperfect you is the way to go – so don’t be afraid to show the world who you really are.
This might sound scary, to be vulnerable and show others who you really are – but there are actually a lot of easy ways to go about this as well.
For example, maybe instead of sticking to neutral colors in your house, you paint a wall a bold vivid color you love. Maybe you hang a poster for your favorite band or put up some art that reflects your individuality. Your home is a reflection of who you are – so you might as well make sure it’s authentic!
Another easy way to show others who you are is to wear clothes that reflect this. For example, I have a tendency to always wear black – it goes with everything, right?
The issue is, it doesn’t really reflect who I am – I love bright, bold colors and all kinds of patterns. Just deciding to wear something more colorful is an easy way I can step out of my comfort zone – and it usually results in all kinds of compliments from others!
3. Do Things Alone
It’s scary to do things by yourself, but once you try it the more and more comfortable you will become. Go to a movie alone, or eat out at a restaurant by yourself. Take a small road trip by yourself.
By doing this, it will help foster your independence and help you get more comfortable with being alone and independent.
If the idea of being alone scares you, try watching this video on how to be alone by Andrea Dorfman. This video always inspires me!
Again, start with small things – try sitting on a park bench by yourself for 10 minutes, or go to a library or book store alone and browse all the books. Just shopping alone at the store or a mall can help you step out of your comfort zone with very little risk.
4. Start Asking People for Things
Too often we are afraid to ask others for help or to ask for what we really want. Remember that the worst that anyone will ever say to you is no. So ask away.
You never know what might happen when you start asking for things – and this will help you overcome fears of rejection as well.
So go ahead – ask the boss for a raise, ask out a friend to lunch, ask the cashier at the store if she has any discount coupons. You never know until you try…and the worst anyone will say is no.
5. Do Something Embarrassing Every Day
Many times we stay in our comfort zone because we are afraid we will be embarrassed trying something new.
Doing embarrassing things every day will help you worry less about what people think of you and help you learn how to step out of your comfort zone.
Dance around in your living room, sing loudly and off-key, wear a silly hat, play music on your phone in a public place. The more practice you get at doing embarrassing things, the easier it is to stop worrying about what other people think.
Doing slightly embarrassing things has another benefit as well – it helps you realize it’s okay to make mistakes. This will help you gain confidence to try new things and experiences.
6. Learn Something New
You can always learn something new, and doing so will help challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Take a class at a local community college, join a fitness club, or take a class online.
Hobbies are a great way to learn something new with very little risk. Maybe you learn how to knit or crochet or you learn how to play a sport.
You can also learn new skills that can help you advance in your career. For example, take a public speaking course or join Toastmasters. Learn a new software program or learn how to type faster.
By learning new things, you’ll open yourself up to new possibilities and experiences.
7. Give Up on Perfection
One of the reasons we stay stuck in a comfort zone is because we’re afraid things won’t turn out perfect if we step out of our comfort zone. When you stop trying to be perfect, it can help you branch out to new endeavors more easily.
Begin by lowering your expectations for yourself and others. Remember the motto, “Good enough is good enough.” Be aware of situations where you might be putting more energy than necessary into achieving what needs to be done.
Remember that is okay to fail. You can always bounce back or start over.
Stepping out of your comfort zone might not be the easiest thing to start doing – but with these little things, you will feel much more confident in stepping out of the comfort zone to make big positive changes in your life.
Are you stuck in your comfort zone? What things make you feel uncomfortable or awkward but could help you grow on a personal or professional level? Share your thoughts and comments below!