Comfort is easy. We fear uncertainty, loss, pain, and so we seek to cushion ourselves against the rawness of life by spending our lives in artificial, climate-controlled boxes safe from unwanted intrusion.
Powerful forces conspire to keep you in your comfort zone, penned by fear. The system wants you to be compliant, following the rules of the group, being an accepter rather than a creator. Fear of social judgment discourages you from trying anything with a risk of rejection or failure. Capitalism and consumerism encourage you to build a career by mastering a single money-making skill and devoting your life to it.
Through the two-part strategy of making the comfort zone comfortable and everywhere else uncomfortable, we are pressured to remain within our comfort zones: cozy, content, cloistered.
This is unfortunate. Personal discovery and personal development happen only outside your comfort zone.
Comfort zones foster an attitude of learned helplessness, making progress harder. Learning, creating, growing happen only when you step outside your fortress and venture into the wilderness.
To get out of your comfort zone:
- Bring awareness to your comfort zone and your natural tendency to stay inside it.
- Change your frame of mind. View your comfort zone not as a shelter but a prison. Embrace constructive discomfort. Don’t take the safe, known path. Choose challenge over comfort, and set goals that force you to get out of your comfort zone. Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Gradually expand the perimeter of your comfort zone. Lean into the discomfort. Don’t sprint out of your comfort zone, take small but frequent steps. Push the walls out, don’t try to knock them down.
- Periodically check your progress to confirm that you’re going further out over time.
As your life continues to improve it will become easier to expand your comfort zone, because when you’re happy, optimistic and confident, you’ll be more inclined to take risks and live adventurously.