It’s nice to be in your comfort zone—you feel relaxed, confident and secure. However, there are good reasons to suppose that you shouldn’t constantly occupy that place. If you resolutely refuse to leave your comfort zone, you deny yourself valuable chances to fulfil your dreams and grow as a person. Do you have an underlying urge to leap into the unknown, yet always find yourself holding back? Ask yourself whether you fall into the trap of entertaining any of these nine thoughts, and consider the associated suggestions that might help you break free.
1. “I’ll be ready to do it tomorrow.”
Some days really are so draining that it can be smart to leave tackling a new challenge for the next day. Unfortunately, the “I’ll start tomorrow” thought tends to primarily occur when you are just procrastinating, telling yourself that each new day will somehow be different. This tactic allows you to avoid leaving your comfort zone without ever having to admit your stagnation. Start taking the plunge immediately, even if it’s just in a small way—go for a short gym session, start filling out that job application or research flight prices for that trip of a lifetime.
2. “I don’t have enough money.”
Money can certainly be a barrier, but there’s usually something you can do to at least move towards getting more, whether you take on extra shifts, do some freelance work on the side of your regular job or commit to reducing your monthly expenses. In addition, consider less expensive ways to meet your goals. For example, why not teach yourself a skill using YouTube videos and secondhand books, rather than telling yourself you can’t afford to go to classes?
3. “I just need more time.”
While almost everyone complains about lack of time, consider that your subconscious might be deliberately maintaining an endless task list, ensuring you always have the perfect excuse for not growing. Critically assess how you spend your time, and look for potential adjustments to your schedule. Could you watch less reality TV on the weekend, install a tool that limits your ability to go to time-wasting sites, or wake up a little earlier? Chances are, you can make time for important new experiences, but you’re frantically staying busy to keep yourself feeling safe.
4. “The risks are too great.”
People often over-estimate the risks of leaving their comfort zone. When you catch yourself thinking that it’s too dangerous to do something new or different, challenge yourself to actually enumerate these alleged risks. Write them down, and really look at them. Are they really so great that they’re worth sacrificing the chance of fulfilment and excitement?
5. “I don’t really need to leave my comfort zone.”
If you find something uncomfortable, you might notice that you remind yourself it’s really up to you if you want to quit. While it’s true that you’ll seldom be forced to engage with daunting new tasks, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to do so. In fact, your personal development likely depends on your willingness to leave your comfort zone, and it’s likely that you’ll feel worse after refusing to do so—not better.
6. “I need to wait for the ideal time.”
Don’t fall for the fantasy that there’s a perfect time to leave your comfort zone. There is no such time, and if you keep waiting for it then you’ll never take that leap (which is, of course, the point of employing this type of defense mechanism). Settle for a “good enough” time instead.
7. “I don’t know how to leave my comfort zone.”
Some people adopt this helpless type of mentality, believing they can’t take any risks and simply accepting that this is their lot in life. If you really feel paralyzed by the thought of breaking out of your established routine, find a therapist who can work with you to boost your understanding of why it’s so hard for you to try new things (and assist you in moving past these blocks).
8. “I’m just slacking off today as a last celebration.”
A favorite of those who claim to be on the cusp of starting a weight loss program or exercise regime, this thought endorses a final day of excess. However, it’s all too easy to sneakily extend this approach. For example, you might say “Well, now it’s close to the weekend, so I might as well enjoy those days” and then “I’m about to go on vacation, so what’s the point of starting now?” (ad infinitum). Recognize the “last celebration” for what it is—an excuse for procrastination. If you’re serious about changing your life, start today.
9. “I’m not good enough, so I shouldn’t even try.”
Finally, it’s common to tell yourself you don’t leave your First Date because you’ll never be good enough to succeed at whatever you dream of doing. There are countless resources to help you learn and grow, so don’t give up before you’ve even started! You don’t actually know how good you could be. And, if it turns out you’re not well-suited to the thing you try, what’s the worst that could happen? You will muster the resilience stand up, brush yourself off, and embrace another new experience.