Yeah, of course it’s nice to be comfortable and to know what’s going to happen. At the same time, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be and if you’re one of those people who always takes comfort over anything else that comes your way, then you’re probably missing out on some great opportunities and chances to live.
Why is that? Because your comfort zone is also your safe zone. It’s where there is as little risk as possible. The thing is, sometimes you need to take the occasional risk in order to collect the reward that hands beckoning on the other side. Here are some of the best reasons to step outside of your comfort zone.
What am I saying? How can that be? Well, it’s true. Though popular culture has painted stress as a killer and a horrible thing to have, that isn’t actually true. A little bit of stress can be good for you. That’s why many people like horror movies and why so many of enjoy playing games.
It’s only too much stress experienced over too much time that can do you harm. If you manage to expose yourself to manageable doses of stress frequently enough, you’ll find that you end up being more effective, more productive and feeling more alive.
If all you ever do is stay in your comfort zone, how are you ever going to learn new skills? You’ll never take the plunge and try to learn a new language, or learn how to mountain climb, or do any of the other things you’d like to be good at but aren’t.
And that makes sense. After all, our comfort zone is about safety and learning new skills doesn’t feel safe. It’s pushing into the unknown. The thing is, though it might feel risky, it’s managed risk. You decide when to push ahead and you decide when it’s become too much.
You might think luck is something completely arbitrary, but it isn’t. As the psychologist Richard Wiseman discusses in his book The Luck Factor luck can be manufactured. It’s a matter of going out of your way to meet new people and engage with them. Often these people will know things and people that can help you through the problems that you’re having.
But you’re not going to meet those new people or go to those new places where you might meet them if you stick to your comfort zone. After all, meeting new people and finding out about them lies outside of what you’re used to. And so, sticking to your comfort zone will negatively affect how many opportunities you’ll get in life and how lucky you’ll be.
Creativity is all about making unexpected connections between things and fields that other people wouldn’t normally connect. The thing is, for that to happen, you constantly need to jolt your frame of reference and your way of looking at the world.
Why? Because otherwise your brain will naturally fall into the patterns that it’s used to. And why wouldn’t it? We all prefer to follow the paths of least resistance and in your brain those happen to be the ones you’ve always followed. Now obviously, those aren’t creative. Quite the opposite, in fact.
So, if you want to be more creative, push out there.
And finally, pushing into new territories and trying new things keeps our brain elastic, as it constantly pushes us to reevaluate our held assumptions and learn new things to deal with the problems we’re facing.
In this way, you can stay on top of your game for longer and react more flexibly and more elastically to what comes your way and keep you taking part in society and your family for that much longer without feeling that you’re falling behind.
Because if you do, you might get burned. Our comfort zone does have a function and it can serve to protect us. For that reason, the best strategy is to edge over it a little bit at a time. Do that effectively and consistently, and your comfort zone will actually expand! That’s much better than charging across, screaming and brandishing a flaming club. After all, if you do that, you might get burned. And as they say, ‘once burned, twice shy’ and that’s not what you want.