Why Staying In Your Comfort Zone Can Hold You Back
Why do we stay in our comfort zone? Because our comfort zone is the stress-free zone we are used to. It’s what is familiar.
But when we stay in our comfort zone, we are holding ourselves back from living a life we want, from being happy and from growing. We end up letting our fears rule and settling for mediocrity.
What Is A Comfort Zone?
A comfort zone is “a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.”
Our brains are trained to keep us safe, so we stay in our comfort zone instead of facing the unknown. When we stay in our comfort zone, we are forcing ourselves to stay inactive. We become afraid to change for fear of what could happen.
A simple example of leaving a comfort zone is a child going to school for the first time.
For some the process can be a little distressing. However it is necessary and will benefit both the child and parent in the short and long term.
On the other hand, staying in your comfort zone can cause problems because it’s also the place where we are the most dissatisfied with our life.
Here are 7 reasons why it’s wrong to stay in your comfort zone
1. Not achieving your goals. Staying in your comfort zone makes you less likely to follow through on actions needed to reach your goals. Your fear, procrastination, or any other excuse keeps you from taking action toward your goal.
When you are afraid of something, staying in your comfort zone keeps you from facing that fear. You stay away from situations that would put you in a position of having to face the fear in order to overcome it. Then you suffer from it forever or until you do face it.
For example, your fear of public speaking keeps you from taking a job that requires you to speak in front of others, even though it’s a step up on your career ladder.
2. Your health suffers. Sometimes when you are not getting out of your comfort zone you aren’t taking care of your health either. It can be from fear of going to the doctor, not wanting to change your routines, avoiding going to the gym for some reason (such as afraid of being judged) or just trying something new.
Staying in your comfort zone can make you feel trapped and unhealthy. Often our comfort zone keeps us doing bad habits out of fear. You might want to be more active, play a sport, go to a evening class or take up a new hobby. But to do any of these things means doing something that is outside your comfort zone.
For example, it’s always been a dream of yours to run a half marathon. But you procrastinate and make excuses why you can’t. You’re too out of shape. You don’t have time. You’re too old. But the real reason is because you are afraid to get out of your comfort zone and begin training.
As a result, you continue to eat unhealthily, gain weight, lose muscle tone and put your dream on the back burner until eventually, you’re health becomes a problem.
3. Your comfort zone is keeping you from being happy. When you don’t move out of your comfort zone, you aren’t building the confidence you need to grow and take on new challenges. Maybe you struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem issues.
These problems can grow unless you take steps to begin addressing them. Stepping outside your comfort zone helps you build confidence in your self and see yourself in a better light. When you are confident and have good self-esteem, you are happier.
For example, if you’re not confident in your abilities, you tend to stay in your comfort zone instead of trying something new. This drags down your confidence – making you feel less competent and making you unhappy. So instead of applying for that dream job, volunteering to lead a project or asking someone out on a date – you do nothing.
4. Lack of growth. You need to step out of your comfort zone to explore what you’re capable of doing or what you can accomplish. If you do not grow, you will always be stuck, never going forward, never growing and changing. You might end up not achieving your goals because you’re stuck on doing things the same way you’ve always done them, even when your not seeing any results.
5. You become unprepared for changes. When you stick to your comfort zone, you become inflexible and set in your ways.
It keeps you from being open to new possibilities. Rather than operating from a growth mindset, you become comfortable with a fixed mindset.
Life can be difficult, throwing all kinds of things at you. Things can happen that will pull you out of your comfort zone even if you don’t want to. Embracing change is what makes us grow.
6. No or lost passion. Staying in your comfort zone makes it harder for you to discover your passion. Your passion can only be found outside your comfort zone. By continuing to live in your comfort zone, you allow yourself to settle for less than you desire. You put your passion or things you love aside.
7. Feeling left behind. When you stay in your comfort zone you will feel like you are being left behind by your friends, colleagues and others you relate to. They might have been behind you in terms of your life or career but because they stepped out of their comfort zone, they have passed you by.
The reasons we stay in our comfort zone are the same ones that we should be using to step out of our comfort zone. Staying in your zone may feel comfortable but it’s wrong to limit yourself to settling for mediocrity.
The Unknown: Where You Find Your True Self
The personal development quote by Roy T. Bennet states, “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
It’s true that during the times you step outside your element, you experience who you really are. It’s about facing our fears and doing things we are passionate about.
We often live our lives with the “I cannot,” “I don’t want to,” or “it’s too difficult” thoughts that keep us stuck and unhappy. It’s only until we realize that when we stop letting our negative thoughts control us, that we find our true self.
Stepping into the unknown is frightening, the place just beyond where we can see the outcome of doing it. That’s the part that makes our hearts pump faster, make us break out into a cold sweat and yet, we yearn to see what’s there.
Staying in our comfort zone keeps us from stepping into that unknown. It keeps us secure and safe. Your comfort zone is the basis of your life now. It’s how you define who and what you currently are.
But what would happen if you ventured outside that zone? Would bad things happen? Or would you suddenly be excited about life?
How do you know if you should step into the unknown? Begin by writing down 10 things that do not scare you and you do often. This could be things like traveling by bus, giving a public speech, or whatever it is that doesn’t scare you. It’ll be different for each person, because we all have different comfort zones.
Describe how it feels to live within your comfort zone. Be as detailed as possible using feeling words. How does it make you feel to be in your body, your mind, and your life?
Then ask yourself these questions:
- Are there things you want to achieve but haven’t yet?
- Are you dissatisfied with your daily life?
- Do you want to achieve big things?
- Do your goals and passions keep appearing, tugging at you?
- Are there material or immaterial things you want that you don’t have?
- Are you struggling with finding meaning in your life?
- Are you feeling jealous of others who have achieved or done things you secretly want?
Once you’ve answered these questions, think about what’s keeping you from going after what you want. What makes you uncomfortable? Is it fear? Are you reluctant to take chances or make changes?
Write Down 10 Things That Scare You
Now describe how it would feel if you were living outside your comfort zone. Be as detailed as possible. Describe in detail how it feels, what you see, hear or where you are. Use images, colour, or visualization to help you create your life.
Once you realize what’s keeping you from stepping into the unknown you can begin taking small steps outside your comfort zone to get there.
Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone
In this article we have talked a lot about getting out of our comfort zone.
We know that our comfort zone is where we feel safe and in control. It’s where we can predict what will happen and how we will feel. It’s our haven where there aren’t many surprises, that we can’t deal with.
So why should you want to get out of your comfort zone? You need to do it because getting out of your comfort zone is the key to your personal growth and happiness.
Stepping out of that zone helps you build up your self-confidence and the way you view yourself. Some of the most successful people in life are those who have taken risks. They embrace lifelong learning but understand that failing and bouncing back is often the reason they are successful.
Being there is holding you back from living a fulfilled life and growing in our career. Staying there is keeping you from realizing and achieving what you desire. It keeps you from being challenged and you don’t have to rise to any new occasions.
5 Steps To Start Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone can be nerve-racking, but it’s something you have to work towards, on a regular basis.
We prefer to be comfortable. But to be our best we have to take steps to get out of the comfort zone rut.
Here are five steps to begin doing that. Use these steps to start experiencing life outside your comfort level.
- Begin with small steps. Take small daily steps toward your big goal. Break them down into small actionable steps that are easier to achieve and less frightening. This allows you to focus on each day as it comes.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for new things. Ask your boss for more responsibilities or ask to join in with a group of friends at a get together. Look for new projects that interest you, but you don’t normally do. Do not overwhelm yourself, but you do want to challenge your normal routine.
- Take control of your fears. Everyone is afraid of something. It’s natural to be uncomfortable. Just recognize your fear and focus on being more confident. Get a clear idea of what fear feels like outside of your comfort zone so you’ll notice when it is happening. Then you can find a way to replace that fear with a more empowering thought. You could say a mantra as you visualize yourself successfully doing whatever you feared.
- Do something daring every day. Challenge yourself to do something that makes you ‘scared’ now that you understand your fears. For example try adopting a wealth mindset. Focus on a target or actively work on what you need to do to achieve wealth. This will encourage you to be disciplined and take regular action steps towards your goals.
- Embrace your curiosity. Don’t lose your curiosity about the world. Be ready to learn new things and have new experiences. Be open minded and question things in your life and the world around you. By being open to curiosity you make your mind active rather than passive. Remember the mind is like a muscle that becomes stronger with regular exercise, so mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger.
Take your time with these steps. Stepping out of our comfort zone keeps us from living a mundane life.
When we stay in our comfort zone, we are holding ourselves back from living a life we love, from being happy and from growing. We end up letting our fears rule and settling for mediocrity.
Your life can be as fulfilled and exciting as you desire it to be once you step into the unknown where you find your true self.