As humans, it’s wired into our brains to embrace comfort zones, to stay in our “happy places” and not do anything that would risk taking us away from where we feel most content and secure. There is nothing wrong with seeking out comfort zones, enjoying them, and even hanging out there for a while throughout the course of our lives. There is a risk, though, in becoming too enmeshed in a comfort zone, so stuck in the safe, happy place that you stifle your personal development by refusing to ever leave. There is little chance for personal growth if you do not move beyond your comfort zones.
Think back to when you were a child: taking risks was par for the course. Childhood is filled with moments of adventure, when good outcomes to trying new things are never guaranteed and yet fully embraced nonetheless. As a child, fear may be present when trying out new things, such as learning to ride a bike, but mostly children push past these fears. That’s why children can learn and absorb so much new information and experience. Unfortunately, fear of failure often becomes stronger as we age and it can keep us stagnant. Learning anything new always involves risk because you might fail, you might never get it exactly right, but at some point we have to put ourselves out there if we want to continue to grow and develop throughout our lifetime.
There are no guarantees in life whatever choice we make, but there is so much great value to be had by taking risks, there is so much potential reward that we could miss out on. The great thing about doing things you are initially fearful of and stepping out of comfort zones is that the potential exists for new people and experiences to help guide you along the way. You may even end up on an entirely different path you might not have considered, but which ends up to be better than your original plan. It’s easy to start with some manageable goal setting: if you are thinking of changing careers or learning a new skill, try taking a class in what you’re interested in. Maybe you want to be a content marketer – take a short, introductory class on social media marketing, get a feel for what it involves, what you’d be doing, and how well you adapt to it. This way, there’s a little less risk involved and you get a chance to see how it feels, to experiment. If you like the results and feel you’re on the right path, keep going! Set goals that are gradually bigger and broader, slowly stepping out of your comfort zone.
There is so much value in leaving your comfort zone. When you take a risk, big or small, you can learn much about yourself. Even if you don’t achieve exactly what you hoped for, you had the courage to go for it, and you know now something you did not know before. By doing this, you incrementally build up your inner resilience and you begin to learn that failure is not really failure at all, not in the way society has taught us. When you “fail”, this simply means you didn’t achieve what you hoped to, but there’s so much you still learned and gained in the process. You learn how to accept mistakes and you learn different ways to do things better, you learn more about yourself and what you are capable of – in short, you grow and evolve as a person.
Leaving your comfort zone behind helps open you to new experiences, helps you become more creative and stronger as a person and, ultimately, more fulfilled. Think back on the things you regret most: these are usually the things we wanted badly to do and were too afraid to try. So take small steps, set little goals at first and then keep going. The more risks you take, the more you learn, and eventually, you will have new comfort zones within the fresh experiences you have had. There is a world of possibility out there – all you need to do is take that first step forward out of your comfort zone.