Your Greatest Adventure Begins When You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Published on: September 14, 2015

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Venture Beyond Your Comfort Zone

“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” — Robin S. Sharma

The American author Neale Donald Walsch once said: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” He was drawing awareness to move out of our safety zone to experience the richness of life. Our comfort zone is a safety net where anxiety and the status quo are preserved. It is our harbour of contentment. Humankind has an inherent drive for safety, wired into our DNA to seek food, water and shelter for survival. However, once those needs a met, apathy and listlessness sets in since our mind becomes accustomed to certainty. In fact, it will go in search of it to maintain harmony and order.

Staying comfortable suits some people. The axiom, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ serves as a reminder that being content does not yield the success we search for. The mind has a negativity bias where any attempt to move out of our comfort zone is met with unease. This is evident when we’re in a dreary job or an unfulfilled relationship. If life is chaotic, we are likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed. However, the key is to attain balance somewhere in-between, since being outside of our comfort zone can add further stress. It is normal to experience anxiety when we’re uncomfortable. The body responds to perceived fear as a precautionary survival mechanism. Yet, anxiety impairs our ability to gain new information because the mind cannot reason when it is in a stressed state. It alerts us to impending danger if we move out of our comfort zone by impairing performance.

Being comfortable may also be age related. As we mature, we become set in our ways and less likely to take risks. The lure of perceived rewards may not be as appealing beyond a certain age. For instance, the pain-pleasure principle refers to our motivation to seek gratification or avoid pain. To venture beyond our comfort zone is influenced by how we relate to pain or pleasure. Yet, taking risks is shown to enhance self-esteem and self-worth. Even if we fail, we are likely to discover a new horizon and gain wisdom related to our strengths and weaknesses. Thus, we create an internal reference point the next time we enter uncharted waters.

Small Steps Builds Momentum

“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

Similarly, to push past our comfort zone can cripple and inhibit performance. We must be vigilant in safeguarding our personal interest so as not to move beyond the tipping point of stress and anxiety. It may be akin to walking a tightrope while striving for balance. Nevertheless, optimal performance is attained outside our comfort zone. This is because we seldom achieve success when we’re comfortable, because everything is familiar. There is little need to draw on our mental faculties when we’re in the safe zone. We must commit ourselves to taking bold risks if we seek to become the finest version of ourselves. How about you? Do you take risks and venture outside of your comfort zone? How do you feel when trying something unfamiliar?

To move beyond our comfort zone requires smaller steps to confront our fears, whilst managing discomfort. We learn to become comfortable with uncertainty like elite forces such as the Navy Seals. It’s no surprise that personal growth becomes apparent beyond our comfort zone. In extending ourselves, we celebrate our gains as we accomplish new skills and emotional resiliency along the way. Similarly, cultivating new thoughts leads to a rise in awareness. Our Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is reinforced when we venture beyond our comfort zone. We find our optimal anxiety zone, which leads to improvements. This will vary according to individuals, yet the key is not to become complacent. It should be said, we needn’t stay uncomfortable to reap the rewards. Long-term discomfort can damage our self-esteem and put the brakes on performance. Instead, we ought to focus on making small strides towards our endeavours until you profit from the experience.

Humankind can withstand most circumstances because our evolution has allowed us to survive harsh conditions and engineer our biology with the tools to sustain life. That adaptability can work for or against us, depending on our actions. If we stay idle, we risk rusting out, thus impairing our personal development. It is the fear of the unknown that frightens us most, not change itself. We can mitigate this uncertainty by reframing it as Stephen R. Covey states in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where he writes: “Create an internal “comfort zone.” Then, when you get into the situation, it isn’t foreign. It doesn’t scare you.” He is referring to creating an inner sanctuary when change overwhelms us. Within that space is the reassurance that what eventuates cannot disrupt what is familiar. Given life begins at the end of our comfort zone, what lies beyond our perceived security is far greater than our habituated environment. Therefore, life is constantly undergoing change and we must celebrate the challenging journey if we strive for a more enriching life.

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2 Responses to Your Greatest Adventure Begins When You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

  1. lyn clark says:

    Gained some new insights.



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