What is Comfort Zone?
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there”
Comfort zone is defined as
A psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress.
Bardwick defines the term as
“A behavioral state where a person operates in an anxiety-neutral position”
So comfort zone is a mental concept rather than some physical space. It is a state of mind of being non-innovative, where you don’t want to expand your mental and physical activities hence don’t grow. It is a way of thinking by which we limit our activities as well as thoughts to not to take risks. In psychology, it is referred to a fear zone the fear against risks, the fear of adopting change and it can be overcome by using simple psychology tricks.
We all have built our comfort zones—a routine or situation that feels similar and safe to us. But deep observations reveal that life is stagnant and undergrown. Why you hear often by motivational speakers “step out of your comfort zone”? Because we, while routinely doing things put a psychological barrier to our productivity and growth, and un-knowing the fact we feel happy for being risks and stress-free.
Because we haven’t done anything dynamic in a long time, we think that we can’t
How this Concept is Generated?
The concept of the comfort zone was generated in 1908 by a classic experiment in psychology. The psychologist Robert M.Yerkes and John.D describes that
“A state of relative comfort generates a steady level of performance, to maximize performance; however, we need a state of relative anxiety”
People are intended to stay in their comfort zones, kicking the brain out of it is hard because staying anxiety-neutral is the natural tendency of humans.
In order to increase performance and productivity i.e. overall growth, one needs to push himself to get to the next level. When you want to achieve something you push yourself into challenges, the anxiety and stress levels are higher at this place. This is called optimal anxiety. This positive stress and anxiety give you amazing results. It is the space outside your comfort zone. But pushing too hard can result in negative performance as beyond the optimal anxiety lays the danger zone.
How to find Optimal Anxiety?
At this point, the question arises that how to seek this balance between the passive state of comfort and active state of performance growth how to find Optimal Anxiety? The editor-in-chief of “Life Hacker”, Alan Henry has suggested the following steps.
Do everyday’s things differently
The best possible way to break the monotony, try starting simply by changing your route to work, eating habits etc. Observe the changes and perspectives that come from every change. Do not be put off if your planning is not executed the way you want.
Take time to make decisions
Being a quick thinker and deciding promptly is good and slowing down can make you uncomfortable but this is all what “optimal anxiety” is about, break the norms and opt for the change. Sometimes it’s better when it comes to problem-solving. The “New Business Week” report says that the leap-into-action model should be avoided for solving issues unrelated to your skills. The magazine explains three steps i.e.
Make snap decisions….trust yourself
Trust yourself while making tough decisions. Don’t hem and haw for days to gather information and options. It is preferred to pick an option and move on. The two minutes rule is really helpful, which consists of setting a timer for two minute or any short amount of time. All you need is to force your brain to pick an option before the time runs out. It is, basically, a tip to self-enforced productivity.
Do it in small steps
Breaking out of your comfort zone is not as easy as it seems. It needs a lot of courage and stamina. So better to start step by step, do not stress yourself too much.
Signs that you are stuck in your Comfort Zone
Well, you think that you are working hard at job and challenging yourself to move towards your goals, you could be confusing your daily frustration for growth. You may be of the view that you know everything about your comfort zone, but it is a deceiving myth most of the times.
Being busy in daily routine work of handling Job, family and friends and accomplishing the related commitments does not mean that you are working out of your comfort zone. You are stuck in these operations and this is your comfort zone as these are the familiar tasks you are doing day in and day out.
“Comfort is the enemy of progress” – The Great Showman
WANTING CHANGE IS NOT BEING UNGRATEFUL
To make personal progress, you should adopt change. It is in no way makes you an ungrateful person. You can never know how your comfort is killing you until you step out of your comfort zone and face the fear related to accepting and adopting changes in your life. Many of you have experienced that a bulk of thoughts and ideas you come across but the unseen fear stops you to perform or take the stress of something out of your comfort. Acting upon your ideas is uncomfortable, but once you decide and start you see amazing results.
You can find significant signs by observing your lifestyle that you are stuck in your comfort zone.
If you are still in denial, check these signs
You feel frustrated
Frustration and panic are caused by the failure of achieving something. When you feel frustrated about most of the things every day especially at work, pushing hard, hitting obstacles but achieving nothing, is the sign that you must step out of your comfort zone.
You cannot say NO
Apparently, you are involved in many personal and social activities. You believe that you are a productive element of society. But, in fact, most of these things, despite having good purpose don’t add up into your talent achievements. You do most of these things due to the lack of the ability to say “NO”.
Though you agree to the things, your inner self wished that you hadn’t. Because you want to utilize this time for some other activity. You feel resentment building.
Your progress is stagnant
Generally, everything is going Ok in life but there is a pressure of niggling feeling that you are not developing in terms of skills or knowledge. Your professional position is stagnant. You have never allowed yourself to be stretched intellectually for learning new skills.
You have stopped learning new things
Do you remember last time when you tried something new? This is the sign, it does not mean that you don’t crave for new things, you surely do. You are rut with your job; you are busy but bored, but still afraid of doing new things.
You often say “if” and “when” ….. Means procrastinate
Most of the times you think about “if” and ” when” about any task. You wait for the right time, always, and delay tasks and justify the delay by avoiding the things you dread. This act of procrastination is another sign that you are stuck in your comfort zone.
You don’t feel passion for what you do
You start something passionately but as the time passes you develop a feeling that the former joy is lost. It reflects that you have taken the most; you can, from that face of life. Now is the time to expand your horizons and move on.
You lack the clarity to be decisive
Lack of clarity causes indecisiveness. If you find yourself announcing often
“I am really bad at making decisions”, and you find yourself unable to make choices, you are stuck.
You are always complaining
You are taken over by the negative energy. That is the result of doing the same things. Occupied by such thoughts you find faults in everything around you. You have complains related to your work, your friends and spouse.
You say no to difficult tasks
Another sign is that whenever you are asked to do something difficult or inconvenient, you always say “NO”. The reason is that you find risk in doing anything which does not resonate with year normal lifestyle.
13 Reasons to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
“LIFE BEGINS AT THE END OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE” – Neale Donald Walsch
We have talked about the signs that we are limited by the comfort zone. You still believe that life is going fine the way it is, we have powerful reasons to step out your comfort zone.
Max DePree said
“We cannot become what we want to be, remaining in what we are today”
Many psychologists and social scientists believe that venturing out of your comfort zone significantly increase your focus and concentration. The real benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone are;
1. To Increase Productivity
Stability is a shutting off of your brain. The uncertainty alerts your brain to start learning. “New Yale” research has unveiled that you need to do hard things 70percent of the time if you want to maximize your learning.
This shows clearly how important it is to break your comfort zone and avail the maximum of your brain’s capacity.
The Yale neuroscientist “Daeyeol Lee” Explains how adopting change affect productivity. His words are
“Function of the brain as well as the nature of learning are not “fixed” but adapt according to the stability of the environment. When you enter a more novel and volatile environment, this might enhance the tendency for the brain to absorb more information”.
Many other studies have proved that comfort is a productivity killer. Although comfort is something every one of us strives for, being too comfortable and preferring it over risk-taking may leave you with long turn regrets.
2. To be able to handle the Unexpected
“You will never have a compelling life story until you have the courage to live outside your comfort zone”
Life is all about changes some are perceived and many are unexpected. This is the time when we breach our comfort zone without willingness. Such an Unexpected happening that life brings to us enables us to handle and cope up with the situations.
Spencer Johnson points out in his classic business book (Who Moved My Cheese) that
“Things constantly change so we must learn how to adapt, and get good at it”.
Stepping out of your comfort zone regularly to deal with new challenges and adopts risk activities, allow you to learn how to adapt changes and get prepared to face challenges.
3. Discovery of the Hidden Talent
We all are blessed with a number of abilities and talents which remain unidentified and unappreciated. Just because we are living in a particular routine and going round and round. The reason is that we never push ourselves to try new things instead we settle on the few of our abilities and assume this is all we have.
The most successful people in the world have reached up there, after trying and trying to taking the risk. But as time passed they learnt about their abilities and strengths.
You can get motivated by this goal of “Forest Silver”
“I will search for hidden talents that I did not know I had and do my best to cultivate them. I am grateful for each day and I will try to use each day as a stepping stone to greater achievements”.
4. Expand the Boundaries of your Limits
Stepping out of your comfort zone is another name of pushing your boundaries. As you step out of your comfort zone, you define new limits for your actions and performance. Productive discomfort becomes easy as you are facing the efforts of anxiety and performing in the optimal anxiety zone.
Practicing this will adjust your comfort zone as a place where you are willing to face risks and accept challenges. This anxiety-inducing habit will become the part of your comfort zone so the boundaries of the older zone will expand and take into it the optimal anxiety zone too.
“The more you expand your comfort zone, the bigger, more powerful things you will be able to bring into it.”
5. Fight to use your Life…..Not to Lose it
Life is all about using or losing the opportunity. Not using the maximum of your strengths and most of your abilities by staying in a fixed routine is more like losing them.
When you don’t step out of your comfort zone, keep on playing safe and avoiding to stretch yourself, you remain stagnant. Safe and easy choices ground you to fear.
In contrast, when you embrace challenges, stretch yourself from comfort zone to uncomfortable situations, you characterized your life by the exploration of courage and growth.
From the perspective of “John Maxwell”
“Everything worthwhile is uphill. You can’t experience a fully satisfying life by just coasting. Nothing that is good in life comes easy, and every little that comes easy is good”.
6. To Realize your dreams
We all have dreams. Who does not want to achieve those? The hindrance is our ease-liking. We give up chasing our dreams as it leads us towards the efforts and struggles outside our comfort zone. We do not want to take that positive stress and accept the mediocre.
“If you want something you have never had then you have got to do something you have never done”.
7. Enhance your Creativity
When we let ourselves to embrace the learning of new skills and adventuring new experiences we are venturing out of the comfort zone.
Creativity is a way of perceiving things differently. When you are bound by your comforts you are following particular habits. Your actions even your way of thinking are habitual and have limited focus.
“The shell must break before the bird can fly” – Alfred Tennyson
Doing something out of your comfort zone is very similar to this quote as the bird of creativity cannot fly unless you break the cage of your comfort and give wings to your thoughts.
New approaches guide us more creatively to solve the old problems.
8. Improve Focus and Concentration
Focus and concentration both are related to the brain. Since you are lying in the comfort zone, being in this state your brain does not want anything to change.
Getting out of your comfort zone creates enough positive stress for your brainstorming which in return boosts up your focus, creativity and concentration.
Your comfort zone is a place where you are using minimum efforts to do a particular task, because of the familiarity bred by repetition this familiar feeling makes you comfortable doing this task.
In order to learn new things, you need focus and concentration. At this point, you need to step out of your comfort zone, to instruct your brain think in a new pattern, concentrate on the facts to create a new path for creativity. When you are intended to learn some new and difficult skills, you are getting your brain used to the fact that you love complex activities.
This helps you to focus and enhances your concentration for those activities.
9. To gain Self-Confidence
The biggest benefit of stepping out of your comfort zone is your level of self-confidence increases with every step you take away from it. By leaving comfort zone you do unusual acts, meet new people and live new experiences, this signifies your self-confidence. Some of them give you the experience to fight against your comfort level and performing beyond your expected capabilities.
Despite some falls, in many places, you discover and gain new experiences. Both the situations take you to the next level of self-confidence as you find yourself able to tackle the worst situations as well as exploring the unexplored about you. You get to know about your under-mined strengths to overcome obstacles.
“By leaving your comfort zone behind and taking a leap of faith into something new, you find out who you are truly capable of becoming”
10. To Live more Lively
The above reasons have explained clearly that leaving the comfort zone does not mean to make you uncomfortable but is to expand your abilities and increase opportunities by doing new things, exploring new relations, facing new challenges. Life is all about adventures and surprises, monotony is not a lively feeling.
While you are living, you should feel alive. Venturing out of your comfort zone is a goal itself to achieve. As you choose to achieve this goal you form friction with your life, you really start living.
Comfort reduces the motivational factor in life. It prohibits us from chasing our dreams and bringing in the transformations. Comfort is a boring sightedness.
Ran Zilka in The Psychology Today, explains that
“Sacrificing productivity for comfort may lead you to regrets in the long term”
Life begins outside your comfort zone. Step out of your comfort zone and enjoy new experiences. Enjoy life and live livelily.
11. To Fear—- Less
Why experiencing new things is important in life, which brings fear?
Alex Lickerman, the psychologist has elaborated this factor. He says that thinking in a new way is frightening, but practically most of the things we fear are our weak perceptions as we are unable to anticipate the good things that often occur while trying something new.
Studies suggest that we fear an unknown outcome more than we do a known bad one.
Practicing to stretch outside your comfort zone grows its area and overcome the fear as the unfamiliar things become familiar and the threat of anxiety is reduced.
Your mental and professional growth needs to face fears of moving beyond the safe and familiar.
12. Outside the Comfort Zone You End Up Ageing Better
Ageing well means, stepping out of your comfort zone, to thrive not only to survive. As you expand your performance boundaries and accumulate new experiences, it adds up value to your life, imaginations and expertise. Lifestyle choices can improve cognitive abilities at any age.
A study conducted at The University of Texas revealed that leaving the comfort zone helps to preserve the cognitive abilities as we grow older. The stimulation process of mental and physical growth is dependent on an active brain.
13. A New Word is Awaiting Outside
Do something out of your comfort zone and you will be surprised to that the real world lies outside your limited thoughts. This practice opens the new doors of life for you.
These new openings lead you to new and better opportunities of life, inspirations and relations.
Here is a quick recap of 13 Reasons to Step Out of Your comfort zone:
- To Increase Productivity
- To be able to handle the Unexpected
- Discovery of the Hidden Talent
- Expand the Boundaries of your Limits
- Fight to use your Life…..Not to Lose it
- To Realize your dreams
- Enhance your Creativity
- Improve Focus and Concentration
- To gain Self-Confidence
- To Live more Lively
- To Fear—- Less
- Outside the Comfort Zone You End Up Ageing Better
- A New Word is Awaiting Outside
It is essential to leave the comfort zone but it is not convenient to quit the space. Your comfort zone is your brain’s habitat to rest and relax.
Both extremes are damaging. Don’t push yourself too hard for stress and anxiety. Keep balance because beyond optimal anxiety lies the danger zone.