What Do You Have to Lose? The Value of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

 

My father went against conventional wisdom by frequently encouraging me to live just beyond my means. He believed that by doing so, it forced me to try harder, go further, and expand my comfort zone step-by-step.  

The “comfort zone” as defined by LifeHacker, is “a behavioral space where our activities and behaviors fit a routine pattern that minimizes risk and reduces stress.”  The comfort zone has been termed a killer of dreams by some experts and identified by others as the main reason many people never live to taste true success. It is the antithesis of a growth mindset. Although the zone can reward you with some happiness and reduced anxiety, it has been shown that staying cozy within your comfort zone ultimately reduces creativity, limits vision, and stunts growth.

Benefits of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Despite the “at home” feeling we get in the comfort zone, life gets way more exciting when you decide to explore the world beyond those boundaries. Having a growth mindset is central to innovation. The following are three key ways you will benefit;

You Become More Productive

Comfort is the antithesis of productivity and growth as it causes us to be satisfied with the status quo. You won’t strive to accomplish more because you can survive on what you have. You will also feign “busy” as a way of justifying your current outputs. Pushing yourself out of the comfort zone inspires you to want more and therefore work harder and smarter to increase your output, along the lines of what my father was trying to teach me.  By taking more risks we develop a higher risk tolerance over time and thus increase our capacity and productivity.

It Helps You Deal With Change

In a recent New York Times article University of Houston Professor Brene Brown explains that the worst thing we can do in life is pretend that fear and uncertainty don’t exist, because they do - and we experience them every day. Learning to live outside your comfort zone is one of the best ways to prepare for unexpected changes in life.  If you have a higher capacity for readiness to accept change, which being outside one’s comfort zone helps foster, then when forced change happens you have the fortitude to deal with it in a positive way.

You Get To Harness Your Creativity

Creativity is innately risky, but also tremendously worthwhile. When you share your creativity with others, you’re opening up to vulnerability and possible rejection. Yet there is a silver lining! The same risk-taking increases the possibility of great creative achievement, including creating opportunities where you may not have achieved otherwise. Like Forbes contributor Steve Kotler once said; “Creatives fail and the really good ones fail often.”  Stepping out of your comfort zone boosts self confidence, improves quality of life, and allows us to learn more about ourselves.

It is Not an Easy Task

Getting out of your comfort zone is easier said than done. The main reason for this is that humans are creatures of comfort. We are wired to seek comfort. Therefore, when you finally reach a mental state where you feel comfortable, leaving that place becomes a fight.

Another reason leaving the comfort zone is never easy is the fear of failure and possible rejection. What if you take a big risk and fail? Will you lose your credibility and perhaps even a few friends? Always ask yourself, “What do I have to lose?”You will find more often than not that you have very little to lose, but so much to gain.

Finally, leaving your comfort zone is also difficult because of the way our brains work. The famous Yerkes-Dodson Law shows that our brains can only be pushed up to a certain limit, beyond which performance drops. In most cases, after performance drops, the brain works out that the risk isn’t worth it anymore, forcing us to reset to – our comfort zones.  

Steps to Successfully Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

There are at least two key types of comfort zones, including habits of thinking and habits of acting.  Awareness is key in moving beyond the comfort zone, but action is also key. Here’s a primer on how to successfully get out of your comfort zone and focus on a growth mindset:

  1. Start small:  Begin with small steps. By changing just a small part of your daily routines, you can slowly learn to get outside your comfort zone. This can be as simple as changing the order in which you do things in the morning, and then asking yourself what, if any, result it produced.
  2. Help others:  Find situations that you can proactively resolve for other people. This exercise helps you move beyond your habits of thinking and acting by entering someone else’s world.  It will also strengthen your sense of empathy, which will undoubtedly make your actions outside of your comfort zone more impactful and rewarding.
  3. Find a mentor:  A mentor is someone whom you want to emulate in life. They can also be directly involved in your life and give you feedback.  Following their success path can help you overcome some fears and latent comforts that hold you back from growing. For me, Sir Richard Branson has always been a role model in terms of taking calculated risks and expanding one’s comfort zone.

If you’re up for the journey, why not begin today? It takes effort and steps of faith, but it is definitely possible.  

 

New Growth Mindset Keynote Topic

Ravi has developed and launched a new keynote in the growth mindset arena titled, “What Do You Have to Lose? Step Out of Your Comfort Zone”.  Based on the core belief that the future requires a growth mindset, this motivating keynote focuses on the value of developing a tolerance for risk.  

Ravi uses his compelling journey to showcase how lifelong learning leads to success.  

Read more about the keynote here…