One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again..."
– Abraham Maslow
Countless people operate day to day within their comfort zone; a silent but common ailment. The longer someone stays within it's confines, the less happy they tend to be. Stepping beyond the boundaries of what's familiar is essential to finding happiness, accomplishing goals and discovering your true passions in life. So why do so many of us choose to stay there if it's slowly draining us?
Big changes take lots of energy. Everything in life takes energy, which can be translated into motivation. If we lack the motivation necessary to make big life changes, we as humans find reasons to remain in a state of stasis; after all, stepping beyond our current circumstances could end up being uncomfortable and even scary!
But if you do not journey past all that you know, you're deliberately robbing yourself of 3 beautiful things life has to offer on the other side....
You are not growing
Shawn Achor, a positivity psychologist and author, states that happiness is "the joy you feel moving towards your potential."
We've all heard the saying that if you aren't growing and moving forward, you're really slipping backwards. Progress is a key ingredient to happiness in life! As long as you remain within your comfort zone, you're not growing because you're making no movement towards progress or growth. Remember, growth is about becoming more than you currently are and without experiencing all that is outside of you, you'll never get there.
You're not out there trying new things
What are you passionate about? The luckiest of us discover what we love doing early on in life, and we're able to follow our hearts as we spend our lives mastering the art of it. But if you're anything like the majority of people, you spend the first two or three decades of life searching and testing and wondering what it is that our hearts desire.... And that's only if you're diving into one thing after another, and constantly trying new things.
Your comfort zone isn't about getting out there, challenging yourself and discovering. In fact, you'll rarely try anything new and if you do, it's typically not of your own free will.
You're becoming comfortable with settling
The worst fate of all! We all know those people that had a dream straight out of college and then life happened. They settled for a life that was good enough without being too much; they decided to remain comfortable and unchallenged versus chasing tirelessly after their passions.
And this situation alone isn't the worst of it. If you become conditioned to settle in general, you will fail at recognizing prime opportunities that come along throughout life. You'll reject them out of the fear of leaving what you've always known.
Don't worry - there is still hope! Anyone and everyone can expand their comfort zones and even wander beyond them in a healthy and enjoyable way. The real trick to beating is to make feeling uncomfortable a conscious and constant habit. The more you do it, the less resistance you'll experience to the feeling itself and to the actions associated with it.
The old adage 'one step at a time' truly comes into play here. That first step is the most essential because it's the only one where we're facing our fears directly. Second and third steps are significantly less terrifying, and before you know it you're running from your comfort zone with a smile on your face. The next time around will be that much easier, as your confidence builds.
Here are 3 things you can do to develop the self confidence and strength necessary to step outside your comfort zone regularly...
1.) Make a list of your procrastinations
What are all of the things that you've been putting off and continue to put off? Try to think of everything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, that you've been procrastinating on for a few weeks or more.
2.) Start checking off things from that list, beginning with the smallest
Don't go chasing the whales on your list; begin with the small fish and work your way up. It's essential that you take that first step and experience success as quickly as possible.
3.) Continue moving forward
It's all about momentum from here. Continue moving forward by stepping further and further from your comfort zone until you feel ready to tackle whatever comes your way!
Your resolve is a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Before you know it, spending substantial amounts of time beyond your comfort zone will become the new norm.