Stepping outside of our comfort zones is an important aspect of our maturation. Due to a
reluctance to take risks, many people spend years feeling stuck and stagnant when it comes to
personal growth. Fear can hold some captive, and it can lead to a road of regret and what-ifs.
As author Anais Nin states, “the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more
painful than the risk it took to blossom”. We may reach a point where not knowing what could
have been stings more than putting ourselves out there. What if you reached a point where you
just know that if you mustered up the energy, there would be more in store for you? What if
you’re tired of fear dictating your behavior? It’s never too late to change your narrative.
Signs of fear:
- You never try anything new out of a fear of failure
- You procrastinate rather than work hard, because it’s easier to say that you “didn’t do
your best anyway” than it is to truly work for it and still fail
- You find it difficult to make decisions on your own due to the responsibility that comes
- You please people and live for their approval because you fear their judgment of you
- You avoid intimacy with others although you yearn for it
To step outside of your comfort zone, you must:
- Know what your comfort zone consists of
You need to understand what it is that you’re uncomfortable doing and why that is the
case. Draw a circle, and inside the circle write the things that you feel confident or
comfortable doing. Outside of the circle, write the things that you desire to do but that
scare you out of possible failure, rejection, or disappointment. Is it the dream of starting
your new business? Pitching in a new project at work? Speaking publicly? Approaching
a person? Be honest with yourself over your fears and what you’re willing to conquer.
- Find out what your goals are/ how you want to benefit from this step
To be motivated to step outside of your comfort zone, you need to consider how it will
help you grow as a person. If you want to start practicing public speaking, then think
about how that will help you professionally. If you want to approach someone, think
about the possibility of forming new meaningful connections and memories that fear can
make you miss out on.
- Switch your nos to yeses
Finding out how you’ll benefit from these goals is an excellent way to know what you
need to say yes to. Sometimes we say no to opportunities out of laziness, and
sometimes it’s pure fear. Look at small opportunities coming your way and say yes to
things you would typically say no to. If social settings make you nervous and a friend
calls you up and invites you to tag along to a gathering, train yourself to say yes rather
than passing on every opportunity that sounds new. It’s important to note that not
everything deserves your yes, and discernment on your part will be necessary.
- Allow yourself to feel the discomfort
Don’t shy away from the discomfort and retreat back to your comfort zone the second
you have the chance. If you’re meeting people in a social setting, resist the urge to
isolate, stay on your phone, or leave. Sitting with discomfort is how you eventually
become more comfortable over time.
- View failure as a lesson
Change your perspective over the situation by identifying how it helped you grow and by
separating it from who you are. We avoid taking new risks because we believe that if we
fail, it will somehow define us. We live like failure is the sum total of who we are, so it’s
easier to never try. It’s important to know that we make mistakes and there’s room for us
to learn from them without attaching them to our identities.
There’s a reason we love comfort zones…they’re comfortable! As much as it feels safe, it
doesn’t serve us in the long run. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said. “The only
constant in life is change”. Change is inevitable, and stepping out of our comfort zones helps us
cope with changes and life’s challenges. Not only coping with change, but also learning about
ourselves and growing from our mistakes.
- What do I fear the most?
- What is fear stopping me from?
- If I believed in myself more, how differently would I live my life?
- What do I need to say yes to this year?