The Straight-Talk Guide to Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
There’s a reason advice about stepping out of the comfort zone is as old as the term “comfort zone” itself: Few people genuinely want to leave it, and why would they? It’s warm, cozy, and inviting. We feel good there. Staying put just makes sense.
It requires deliberate, often unintuitive, effort to step away from comfort, to challenge the protests of our self-preserving inner voices. You know these voices. They’re the ones that shout and whine and make you overthink risks, feel stressed when you stretch toward new goals, and grow overwhelmed when you rock the boat just a little.
Here are some tips for talking yourself into leaving your cozy comfort zone when the time is right.
Tip #1: Practice makes perfect.
Each day, find a big or small way to step out of your comfort zone, whether that means switching up your daily schedule just a little or agreeing to learn and use a new skill every day.
You’ll be a little uncomfortable every day, and along the way, you’ll realize you can take it. That exhilarating knowledge will send you seeking even more discomfort.
Tip #2: Choose your comfort battles wisely.
Many life obligations are also uncomfortable: routine medical procedures, family reunions, and paying taxes, to name just a few.
When it comes to your non-obligatory discomfort, it’s okay to be picky. Confront the uncomfortable things you also believe to be holding you back. If you aspire to be a CEO one day, you don’t necessarily need to waste your discomfort energy on skydiving despite your fear of heights. Maybe instead focus on your fear of public speaking.
Tip #3: Learn how to read your discomfort like a cheat sheet.
Living outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean never feeling uncomfortable. It means working through your discomfort by understanding and challenging what exactly makes you feel that way.
Discomfort tells our bodies and minds, sometimes erroneously, that something is dangerous. Questioning it stops it from becoming overzealous and mislabeling legitimately positive things as threats.
Tip #4: Accept uncomfortable as your new “comfortable.”
It’s okay to be uncomfortable. Experiment with feeling discomfort without trying to change it. Consider instead the growth that will come after you make it through.
The folks at myTherapyNYC say it perfectly:
“To be truly constructive we need to understand that a little receptivity and acceptance of the moment can deliver significantly better results than avoiding, fighting, or denying an experience. A culture that teaches you to avoid discomfort is not giving you the tools you need for the truth of life.”
Read more about living in your uncomfortable zone: