In psychology, a comfort zone can be defined as a state where we feel comfortable and familiar with things we do, and where we can fully control our environment and related circumstances.
As a result, people experience less stress or anxiety in their comfort zone. The psychological definition of a comfort zone is that it’s a “mental and behavioral state when people perform only a limited range of behaviors and receive satisfying results at the expense of reducing anxiety.”
From The Comfort Zone To The Growth Zone
However beneficial leaving your comfort zone might seem now, it doesn’t happen all at once. In fact, there are some specific stages you need to overcome in order to step into a growth zone, which is the main purpose of leaving your comfort zone.
Let’s compare the comfort zone with the fear zone, learning zone, and growth zone and see if these stages are necessary.
The first zone you’ll move into after leaving the comfort zone is the fear zone. While you feel safe and sound in your comfort zone without experiencing any anxiety, the fear zone will immediately cause stress and fear.
However, it should not block you from stepping into the learning zone. Although the fear zone is anxiety-provoking, it will help you develop new skills and get prepared to switch to the learning zone.
The learning zone is one step closer to the growth zone. Moving to a learning zone will help you understand your current abilities and develop new skills that you need for personal or professional growth.
Similar to the comfort zone, the learning zone is sort of like a Plato zone because here you don’t experience stress or anxiety. However, you get ready to step into the growth zone.
And finally, after overcoming the learning zone, you’ll switch to the growth zone, which differs from the comfort zone the most. In fact, in your comfort zone, you feel comfortable, but you’re frozen in one place.
You don’t learn new things, you don’t think about new perspectives. You just keep doing whatever you did before. On the contrary, the main purpose of being in the growth zone is to develop new skills and start realizing your real goals and dreams. A growth zone will help you to succeed.
Having covered the what, why, and how of leaving your comfort zone, let’s now cover some ways someone might try to do so.
CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
In everyday life, there are ample opportunities to challenge yourself. Turn off your smartphone and television while having dinner, decide what to wear more quickly, or just slow down to take in the surroundings on a walk. These changes break you out of old, comfortable routines.
EXPAND YOUR PROFESSIONAL SKILLSET
Growing your skillset can foster creativity and refresh your self-confidence, as well as increase employability. Skills like public speaking, negotiation, and leadership can represent a new challenge for many people. Investing in them can build resilience, personal satisfaction, and open up more opportunities than ever.
IMPROVE YOUR DIET
Many people want to improve their diets and stop relying on ‘comfort foods.’ Doing so often means trying something new.
Sticking to a healthy diet can be as challenging as it is rewarding, with self-efficacy growing as you hit milestone goals along the way.
EXPAND YOUR WORKOUT SCHEDULE
Similarly, many aspire to this goal. For some, it can mean running their first 5K, but for others, it might be completing a triathlon.
Aiming high with exercise is emblematic of leaving the comfort zone and a great way to get the ball rolling.
Creativity – anything from writing a poem to building a business – usually involves an element of risk. Creative endeavors are about stepping into the unknown, with failing and subsequent learning as expected outcomes.
Exercising creativity is a good way to train yourself to have a growth mindset and let go of a need for perfection from the outset.
CHALLENGE YOUR BELIEFS
While exploring alternative perspectives can be uncomfortable, it enables growth and insight by challenging entrenched beliefs.
This might take several forms, such as reading varied book genres, diversifying who you talk to, and visiting new places. It’s easy to get stuck in our ways, but this can lead to complacency – a hallmark of being in the comfort zone.
When employed sensitively, honesty can be a tremendous catalyst for personal growth. Whether being straight with yourself in a private journal or telling someone close how you feel, honesty forces people out of their comfort zone. Through honest communication, we can understand ourselves better and build deeper bonds with others.
INTERACT WITH RISK-TAKERS
People often act the way other people around them do. We often adopt others’ habits and get inspired by the creative people around us. That’s why hanging out with people who enjoy taking risks is a good idea.
That way, you’ll acknowledge that facing risks isn’t that hard after all, and it even leads to positive consequences. Also, risk-takers will influence you to start taking part in new activities, and as a result, you’ll quickly get out of your comfort zone.
FACE YOUR FEARS AND FAILURES
The main reason why we prefer to stay in our comfort zones is that we’re afraid of failing. And we’re so afraid that we refuse to face our fears. However, taking part in activities that you’re afraid of will help you grow.
You might fail in the beginning, but this failure will help you get closer to your goal. Keep in mind that taking small steps and doing something is better than doing nothing. But if you want to leave your comfort zone all at once, you should face your biggest fear.
This strategy is called “flooding” in psychology. So, if you’re afraid of public speaking, gather people and start speaking in front of them. If you’re afraid of spiders, catch one because that way you’ll leave your comfort zone quickly.