For a long time, I have believed that the comfort zone is a good thing and why shouldn’t it be? It is a safe space, while you’re in there nothing can hurt you, you feel reassured and sheltered, but maybe leaving it every now and then wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Maybe the comfort we feel within that zone isn’t as beneficial as we like to make ourselves believe.
By staying within the comfort zone you allow yourself to forget about trying something new and facing your fears, such as talking in front of a large crowd or when you didn’t go on that trip when you were 11 because you didn’t want to leave home for too long. The comfort zone is easily one of the major faults of human development, but also something most of us think quite highly of, even if we don’t care to admit it. It allows you to willingly limit yourself by sticking to things that make you feel comfortable. As you find more things that give you that feeling of comfort they are added to your comfort zone - however if you never leave the comfort zone how are you meant to widen it?
Leaving your comfort zone is very easy on paper, but not so easy to put into action. The simplest way to start is to keep reminding yourself of the multiple benefits that you can receive when you force yourself to leave that comfort zone you love so much. Take the example of being able to talk in front of a group, be it peers, colleagues or strangers. You may have an exceptional idea you want to share and pursue, but you can’t do it on your own, you need the help of other people, for example your colleagues. The easiest way to convey your idea would be to gather them together and wow them with your idea - but you don’t because you won’t leave the comfort zone and your idea is left forgotten. If you had left your comfort zone and conquered your fears that idea may have been acted upon and you may have gained that promotion you so wanted or even just gained the satisfaction of hearing feedback on your idea.
I have found that these four tips helped me to start edging out of my comfort zone:
- Try publicising any idea that you have somewhere where you can receive criticism and feedback that isn’t necessarily personal, such as in a blog post, this will teach you to take criticism and thicken your skin so you aren’t as sensitive to feedback, it may also help you improve your idea.
- Try setting yourself a significant goal that would require weeks or maybe even months to achieve, this will allow you to set and reach smaller goals in order to get to the end goal. For example, when designing a game, there are a lot of smaller goals that have to be achieved before reaching the finished product, such as finalising the concept, creating the design and coding the game.
- Put yourself in a new environment. Small changes such as eating with someone new at lunch, or not sitting at your usual desk allow you to interact with new people and surroundings which could open up new opportunities.
- Finally, you can try choosing one of your biggest fears and facing it head-on. If you are afraid of heights, challenge yourself to try skydiving or going for a hike up a mountain or even just the highest diving board, anything to test your fears is a good way of getting yourself out there.
Getting ahead of the limitations that are set by the comfort zone will allow you to broaden your horizons and allow you to find future successes.