Is Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone Worth It?

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Your Comfort Zone: Helpful or Harmful?

BY AMANDA HALE

Everyone likes to be comfortable. It’s a natural human instinct to seek safety and familiarity and it makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If you stick to what you already know, the likelihood of threat is reduced and your survival is protected. So why challenge this safety-seeking instinct? Your comfort zone might be meeting your needs, but it might also be limiting your potential and experience. What does your comfort zone look like? Work out what is safe and familiar to you at work, in your relationships and in your leisure time. Those interactions and activities that don’t inspire anxiety or discomfort.

Your comfort zone might be comfy but is it holding you back?

Your comfort zone might be comfy but is it holding you back?

If you continued to stay within this comfort zone of yours for the remainder of your life, repeating those same interactions and activities, how would you feel about that? Does that match the big picture you have for life? Imagine yourself at 90 years of age, reflecting back on your life. How does the idea of your comfort zone fit in? Ask yourself: If there was no such thing as fear, doubt, discomfort or the judgment of others, what would you do differently? If there was no risk of failure or rejection, how would your choices change? What advice would your 90-year-old self give you?

Stepping outside of your comfort zone necessarily involves discomfort. It means standing in vulnerability and uncertainty, facing the possibility of failure and rejection. In order to create willingness to tolerate this discomfort, it’s important to develop a vision for the kind of life you wish you create. Once you work out what really matters to you, and have envisaged a life that is founded in meaning and purpose, that becomes your motivation. Living a fulfilling life, minimizing regret and satisfying your 90-year-old self when the time for reflection comes are all powerful incentives to embrace risk.

It might be important, but it doesn’t mean that stepping out of your comfort zone is easy. If you decide the risk is worth the reward, start with small steps. Sign up for those salsa classes that you’ve always wanted to do but have felt too self-conscious to follow through with. Ask that person you’ve had your eye on for a while out for a drink. When someone asks you how you are, answer authentically instead of giving the standard and socially acceptable response. If you’re unhappy and unfulfilled in your work, start exploring courses and career options that inspire you. Making these changes independently can be hard, so perhaps consider seeing a clinical psychologist in service of expanding your comfort zone in a supported way. Benjamin Franklin once said

Many people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they are 75

Don’t become someone who sacrifices meaning and vitality for safety. Embrace risk and uncertainty in order to build a life consistent with what matters to you, deep in your heart. After all, outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.

Amanda Hale is a registered psychologist and a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) Candidate at the Australian National University. She enjoys working with children, adolescents and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, eating disorders, weight management and interpersonal and adjustment difficulties.


 

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