“All the concepts about stepping out of your comfort zone mean nothing until you decide that your essential purpose, vision and goals are more important than your self-imposed limitations.” – Robert White
You may be here because you read my previous article on how my experience being on TED forced me (in a good way!) to step outside my comfort zone (if you haven’t yet, read it here!). Or maybe you’re here because you’re genuinely interested in what benefits come from stepping beyond your sphere of comfort. Whatever the reason, it’s a very interesting space – understanding your comfort zone (and importantly how to venture outside it) can lead to great personal achievement and growth. Who doesn’t want that?
The reason is simple – if we stay inside our comfort zone, nothing changes. We don’t grow. We’re not challenged. We don’t get to find out what we’re made of. Instead, we’re comfortable. Life’s easy. Sure, some may opt for the easy road because it seems more simple in the short-term, but they end up denying themselves of the opportunity to shape themselves into stronger, more confident, more resilient individuals. The longer-term benefits far outweigh the relative comfort of the short-term.
So, what do I get when I step outside my comfort zone?
“Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone” – Neale Donald Walsch
There are so many added bonuses to stepping outside your comfort zone. Here are the four that I found most interesting.
- You’ll be more productive. Comfort kills productivity. As Ran Zilca of Psychology Today shares, “being comfortable often prohibits us from chasing our dreams.” Pushing personal boundaries can help you get more done. It can help you feel more ambitious and give you the drive to learn new things. To do more. To be more.
- You’ll be more adaptable to change. Harvard Professor Brené Brown shares that if you challenge yourself to do things you normally wouldn’t, you can prime your body to be able to handle changes better. You actually don’t really know what you’re made of unless and until you venture outside familiarity. I can absolutely relate to this through my TED experience (read my article on this here). Early on, my dance partner and I received news that we couldn’t get the clearance for our chosen song (crisis!), so had to start from scratch with only 6 weeks to spare. While it was frustrating at the time, it prepped us to be able to handle all sorts of changes that came our way in the weeks that followed.
- You’ll become more creative. When you seek new experiences, learn new skills and open new doors, you become inspired. You challenge existing ideas and your own confirmation bias (which is the tendency to only seek out information we already agree with). The frustration that comes from tackling the unknown paves the way for brainstorming new possibilities and viewing challenges with a different lens. Tim Harford’s TEDtalk called How Frustration Can Make Us more Creative provides a unique insight on this point.
- You’ll grow, whether you want to or not. Psychiatrist Abigail Brenner M.D, author of Transitions, writes of how taking risks and stepping outside the familiar leads to growth experiences. Even if you make a mistake or don’t get it right at first, you’re expanding your repertoire of life skills and self-knowledge. You’re also expanding the size of your comfort zone, which really is a win-win.
Pretty good, isn’t it. Seems that by simply venturing outside what we’re familiar with, we can gain from a range of personal benefits. These were only four that I found – there are actually countless others too. Cool!
But the next obvious question is, “How do I actually do it?”
Well, thankfully I thought of that myself and prepared another article specifically on how you can get better at venturing beyond your comfort zone. Read my next article to find out: Simple Suggestions to Escape your Comfort Zone, Daily.