3 min read

Leave your comfort zone and start developing! We’ll show you how!

Content Editor & Ecotrophologist
Leyla is an ecotrophologist. She writes articles for foodspring about nutrition and healthy living. She also creates free food programs to help you eat healthy.

Is everyday life getting monotonous and you have the feeling you can’t break out of your usual rut? Let’s talk about comfort zones and how to get out of them.

What is the comfort zone?

You get up, go to work, and then to the gym: Your everyday life is characterized by routines that repeat themselves at regular intervals. Your behavior’s within your range of comfort, where you feel safe and can make decisions without stress or uncertainty.

A white (presumably woman) person sits on a couch enjoying her comfort zone in a pair of white slippers. Her face is not visible.
©Sofie Delauw

So, your comfort zone is nothing more than your self-imposed limit. There is no one zone, but rather it varies from person to person.

An example: For you, it might not be a challenge to give a presentation in front of a crowd. For other people, on the other hand, it can be a major hurdle and anything but in their comfort zone.

As a result, you don’t evolve. In fact, studies have proven that. According to such research, if you never leave your comfort zone, your personal development and performance stagnate in the long term. If you want to grow and learn new things, then  there is no other choice: You have to leave it behind to see progress.

Leaving the comfort zone

Leaving this zone means you choose the riskier option. Leaving your job without knowing what’s waiting for you on the other side? Of course you don’t have to break every habit. But turning your back on it now and then can help you develop new habits in the long run.

We’ll show you five tips for everyday life to help you stretch your limits occasionally.

A white woman sits on a yoga mat looking at her phone. There is a bike leaning against the white wall in the background, as well as a table with plants on and underneath it, and what appears to be the skull of a horned unguligrade lying on its side on the tabletop.
©Hero Images

1. Worst Case

You want to run a half marathon, learn a new language, or change jobs. But you’re understandably nervous. 

Ask yourself what the worst-case scenario is.

Imagine the worst possible outcome that can happen when you leave this comfortable zone. You’ll find that no scenario is as bad as the feeling of wondering what might have happened if you hadn’t taken that risk.

2. Baby Steps

No one expects you to give up all your existing routines overnight.

Do you want to learn to speak in front of a large audience without being afraid? Instead of diving into the deep end, take smaller steps over a longer period of time. For example, start by speaking in front of a colleague, then in front of a handful. Learn to cast off the fear and love the feeling of stepping out and experiencing something new.

Photo of a calendar with a pocketwatch on top of it

With time, it will become easier and you will approach your goal. If you feel really comfortable speaking in front of your colleagues, then dare to give a presentation to strangers.

3. No excuses

It’s too cold, you’re too tired: we’re good at coming up with excuses. Besides, it’s much too cozy in our comfort zone.

Be honest with yourself: learn to distinguish quick excuses from real reasons. Put yourself in the role of an observer.

Ask yourself what you’d tell your best friend in this situation.

4. Mindset

Think of how you’II feel afterwards. It’s a bit like riding a rollercoaster. At first, you feel uncomfortable and unsure. Afterwards, you’re full of adrenaline and can’t wait to do it again.

Think of the benefits you have to gain, so you can associate leaving the zone with positive thinking.

5. Say yes more often

Participate in a panel discussion, or spend the weekend out of town at an event where you don’t know anyone. Say yes more often and surprise yourself!

Comfort Zone Model

Getting out of the comfort zone: According to insights from the psychology of learning, you can easily overshoot the target. In psychology, the term “comfort zone” is used not only in this context, but also the learning and danger zones.

©Luxy Images

The learning zone:

When you’re in uncharted territory and you feel less certain, your decisions require more energy. The learning zone is the area where you have the potential to grow and develop. When you’re challenged, you break through routines.

The danger zone:

Unlike the learning zone, the danger zone is the place where you’re overwhelmed. Your exact challenges are unknown or unclear. You feel intimidated and panicky. Your escape instinct (or your “fight or flight”) dominates. No learning can occur in such situations.

A woman of color jogs over a zebra-striped crosswalk in half sun and half shadow.

Picture it: You want to start running, so you sign up for the next half marathon in your city. You have just two months to train to run 21 kilometers. You soon realize that not only do your joints need time to get used to this goal, but panic quickly starts to set in as well. You ask yourself: Wouldn’t a 10-kilometer race have been enough of a challenge to start with?

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It’s important to find the perfect balance for yourself. We recommend leaving your comfort zone occasionally, and exploring the learning zone by taking small steps in everyday life. A certain amount of fear or uncertainty is normal.

Our summary

  • Your comfort zone is where you feel familiar
  • In the comfort zone, you can make safe decisions without risk
  • If you want to learn new things and grow, it makes sense to leave it
  • Make sure to take small steps out of your comfort zone, or you may overtax yourself
    Article sources
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