The first step to push out of your comfort zone is to not act like an elephant.
You would be stunned and a little confused to see that elephants, these huge creatures, are only held by a tiny rope when in captivity. In theory, they are able to break free from this tiny rope at any time.
The trick is, when the elephants are very young and much smaller, they are tied up with the very same rope. At that young age, it is enough to restrain them.
As they grow up and get much larger and stronger, they still believe they cannot break away. The elephants get conditioned to believe that they cannot break free.
They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.
But I am a human, not an elephant. What would I learn from that?
Your comfort zone is your enemy!
It is essential that you push your own comfort zone every single day, despite what you may have been taught in the past.
Ever sang and a friend told you to stop, it sounds terrible? Do not stop, keep on singing and focus on improving yourself.
Ever did maths and the teacher told you that you seem to be more of a “language person”? If you have been conditioned to believe that you are not a math genius, keep practising and focus on improving yourself.
The key to continually keep pushing your comfort zone is to realise that failure is part of the process. Stay positive. Don’t get discouraged. At least don’t get discouraged too quickly.
Life starts beyond your comfort zone. So, when the opportunity comes to get out of your comfort zone, take it and see the growth beyond your comfort zone.
It’s not so easy to get out of your habitual home and start a new life outside of it. But, if you follow certain things, it will be easy for you.
Suppose, you feel comfortable speaking your native language and try to avoid places where you have to speak English or another foreign language as you are not strong in that language.
So, your weakness is speaking that language. When you recognise your weakness, you can work on that. Nothing is impossible.
Your efforts to eliminate your weakness will help you to start living beyond your comfort zone.
One of life’s biggest ironies is that when you try to stay comfortable, life sends you more discomfort.
It’s true when you make every effort to stay within your comfort zone, life will send you more challenges. Life will keep taking shots at you. You will encounter more resistance, struggles, and issues.
And we are so focused on staying comfortable that we miss the opportunities to grow and reach higher. The way we grow is to address our limitations and move beyond them.
If we do not, we continue to struggle.
What Are You Here For?
Realistically, you are not on this planet to sip pornstar martinis on the beach and get a tan each and every day of your adult life.
You are here to grow.
And if you don’t make the conscious choice to get out of your comfort zone, life will provide plenty of opportunities to push you out of your comfort zone.
The way that I see it, you have one of two options.
You consciously commit to constant growth and feeling discomfort, and you take control of your own destiny. Or you hand over the keys to the car, and you let life happen to you by default as you become the passenger in the journey of your life.
The two paths lead to different places. One leads to success. And the other path leads you to struggle and pain.
It’s your choice, so choose wisely.
Did Steve Jobs start Apple feeling comfortable about it?
How many top athletes sleep their way to personal bests and high performance?
Do Oscar-winning actors procrastinate preparing for a role?
So why give in to wasting time with Netflix marathons? Why are you running to the pub the moment your mate texts you to come out?
To achieve more, you have got to be willing to make the hard decisions. You have got to be willing to feel uncomfortable. To feel pressure, to feel awkward, to face rejection, and to fail.
Necessary For Growth
You have got to face those things because that’s what is necessary for you to grow.
“I wish I knew back then what I know now. I would have lived my life differently.” How many times have you reflected on your life and said that?
If you have, then it is possible that the life you currently have is not the one you should be living. You would be living differently if you developed the awareness that you did not have back then.
Surprise! The sure-fire way to develop awareness and knowledge is to undertake things you have not done before.
For you to develop things you have not yet developed. To visit places you have not yet explored. To undertake things you have not yet tried.
How You Grow
And my friends, that is how you grow!
That is the way you become the person who is worthy of sitting on the beach with their pornstar martini. Life only rewards you with those experiences AFTER you do the work.
Yes, there is a real price for success. And LIFE collects the payments from everyone, life does not offer interest-free credit or accept payment plans.
And you pay upfront with your discomfort.
Life does not let you experience things that you have not yet earned. So you need to get out of your comfort zone.
You must pay upfront and in full with your sacrifice. And that is the only way you will achieve the life you want.
So start making those calls, start approaching that person. Begin practising kindness and compassion, over jealousy and greed.
Confront your anxiety. Hit the gym. Study harder. Wake up earlier, even if you’re not a morning person. Destroy your procrastination.
Start doing the things, that you KNOW, deep within your heart, you should have started doing a long time ago.
Do all of that, so you begin to build the knowledge and the experiences that you need to succeed.
Here are my suggestions for you.
Now is the time for you to get uncomfortable. It is time to start dreaming again. Time to start going after what was rightfully yours, but you ignored for far too long.
When you push yourself into discomfort, your colleagues will take notice, your friends will take notice, and your family will take notice. Most importantly, LIFE will take notice, and LIFE will respond by beginning to back you up.
Doors Will Open
When life begins to support you, doors will open for you. And you will be introduced to the people who will take you to the next level.
But YOU need to take the first step!
Take it and watch your life expand into greatness. Watch as you develop into the person you have always wanted to become.
It is all waiting for you. It is all waiting for you OUTSIDE of your comfort zone.
GO FOR IT.
Neale Donald Walsh quipped, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
His quote draws our awareness to the point that to move out of the safety of our comfort zone is to experience the richness of life.
Your comfort zone is a self-imposed safety net where your anxiety levels are at a minimum, and the status quo is preserved. It is your safe harbour of contentment.
Humans have an inherent drive for safety. It is wired into our DNA to seek food, water and shelter for survival and to stay safe.
Once those needs are met listlessness and apathy set in. Our minds become accustomed to certainty.
Staying comfortable suits some people. In fact, it probably suits most people. The phrase, “..nothing ventured, nothing gained” serves as a reminder that being contented does not yield the success we search for.
The Negativity Bias
Our mind is designed with a negativity bias that meets any attempt to move out of our comfort zone with unease.
It is a normal response to experience anxiety when we are feeling uncomfortable. The body responds to this perceived threat with our inbuilt precautionary survival mechanism.
You will label it as fear, or FEAR!
This anxiety impairs our ability to gain new information. Our mind cannot be logical and reason when in a stressed state.
Fight, Flight or Fright
Our nervous system alerts us to impending danger if we move out of our comfort zone. And this impairs our performance. We stop thinking rationally and become driven by the urge to fight or take flight.
When that happens we are less receptive to external cues and react based on internal cues. We get real dumb real fast. We simply miss too much information.
Being comfortable might also be age-related.
A lot of people find that as they mature, they become more set in their ways and less likely to take risks. Beyond a certain age, the lure of perceived rewards may not be as appealing.
The pleasure-pain principle refers to our motivation to seek gratification and to avoid pain. So to venture beyond your comfort zone is greatly influenced by how you relate to pleasure and pain.
When you choose to be curious, you choose to be vulnerable because it requires you to surrender to an element of uncertainty.
Oddly, to be curious wasn’t always a choice because we were born curious. And over a period of time, we learn that curiosity, like vulnerability, can lead to pain and hurt.
As a result, we turn to self-protection. We choose armour over vulnerability, certainty over curiosity, and knowing over learning.
The paradox is that taking risks is shown to enhance self-esteem and self-worth.
Even if we don’t succeed, we are likely to gain wisdom related to our strengths and weaknesses or discover a new horizon. And the benefit is that we create an internal reference point the next time we enter uncharted waters.
To push too far past our comfort zone not just inhibits performance it can cripple it.
The Tipping Point
We must safeguard our personal interest so as not to move beyond the tipping point of stress and anxiety. Think of it as walking a tightrope while striving for balance.
Bear in mind that optimal performance is attained on the outside your comfort zone.
Success is seldom achieved when we are comfortable because everything is too familiar. When you are in your comfort zone, there is little need to draw on your mental faculties.
If we are to become the finest version of ourselves, then we must commit ourselves to take bold risks.
Moving beyond your comfort zone requires smaller steps to confront your fears. All the while managing your feelings of discomfort.
Comfortable With Uncertainty
We need learn to become comfortable with uncertainty.
It is hardly surprising that personal growth resides beyond our comfort zone. When we extend ourselves, we have the opportunity to celebrate our gains as we accomplish new skills and emotional resiliency along the way.
Stephen R. Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “It takes an enormous amount of internal security, to begin with, the spirit of adventure, the spirit of discovery, the spirit of creativity.
Without a doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness.
You become a trailblazer, a pathfinder. You open new possibilities, new territories, new continents so that others can follow.”
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
The cultivation of these new thoughts leads to a rise in our awareness. So when we venture beyond our comfort zone, our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is reinforced.
If we dare to venture beyond our comfort zone, we can find a place which leads to improvements, our optimal anxiety zone. Exactly where this lies will vary according to each individual, but the key is to resist complacency.
You don’t need to stay uncomfortable to reap the rewards. You need to realise that long-term discomfort can put the brakes on performance and damage your self-esteem.
The solution is to focus on making baby steps towards your goals until you benefit from the experience.
As humans, we are resilient and can withstand most circumstances. The benefit of evolution is that it has allowed us to endure in harsh conditions. This has engineered our biology with the tools to sustain life.
Depending on our actions, that adaptability can work for or against us. If we are inactive, we run the risk of rusting out and impairing our personal development.
John C. Maxwell wrote in The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset, “However, if you were rarely exposed to growth experiences or taken outside of your comfort zone, then you may have to work harder to cultivate a positive attitude toward positive personal growth.”
We Fear The Unknown
We fear the unknown that comes with change, and It is this fear that frightens us, not change in itself.
Stephen R. Covey suggests we can mitigate this uncertainty by reframing it. “Create an internal “comfort zone.” Then, when you get into the situation, it isn’t foreign. It doesn’t scare you.”
Covey refers to creating an inner sanctuary for the times when change overwhelms us. Within the space of our inner sanctuary is the reassurance that whatever may happen cannot disrupt what is familiar.
Knowing that life begins at the end of our comfort zone, then what lies beyond our perceived security is far greater than our habituated environment.
Our lives undergo constant change, and we must celebrate the challenges in our journey if we desire a more enriching life.
So let’s accept and embrace the unease that comes with moving outside of our comfort zone. And unlike the elephant, let’s test the boundaries and limitations that are placed upon us.