Today Might Be a Good Day to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

March 28, 2018

The perfect time to step out of your comfort zone comes when you least expect it. And when it comes, you only need two things: courage and conviction that you deserve better. It’s a leap of faith, a step that should be taken with a strong mind and a determined heart. It’s a change that will finally take you closer to the person you really want to be.

Something we all know is that the expression “step out of your comfort zone” has deep roots in our language. You hear it everywhere. It’s so popular in the field of personal growth that we feel the need to clear some things up.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” 
-John Maxwell-

First of all, today it feels like we’re pushed to get out of our comfort zone all the time. We’re pushed to make a change, because change itself is a positive, rewarding thing. It helps us get a new perspective. It makes us more receptive to all of the beautiful opportunities on the horizon. Opportunities that we sometimes, due to indecision, fear or shyness, dare not reach out for.

Ads, for example, are constantly inviting us to try new products. To leave our trusted brand for a new, better one. Other times, when we tell someone, “I don’t know what to do, my boyfriend asked me to move in with him”, there’s always someone who responds with the classic, “go for it, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone.

But this term should not be used lightly. In the original theory of the comfort zone, there were some basic, essential principles that we might be forgetting. We must really know ourselves in order to decide when and how to take that leap of faith. Because the last thing we want is for our jump to be a freefall. Therefore, we must learn how to identify that perfect time…

Person pushing out of their comfort zone.

 

Your comfort zone, where everything is great

We’ve been sold the idea that magic grows outside of our comfort zone. Now, there are some nuances to that idea. The magic is actually inside you, and you feel good when you’re where you should be. When you’re in a place that makes you happy and content. Sometimes you’ll have to climb the walls of your everyday, comfortable environment to find something new. Something that fits what we really need.

“A scholar who treasures the love of comfort is not fit to be considered a scholar.
-Lao Tse-

Instead, other times your comfortable environment gives us just what you need. That’s how some people build their happiness. To understand the “step out of your comfort zone” concept a little more, it’ll be helpful to look at its origin. Let’s see where it came from…

The origin of the comfort zone

In the 1980’s, scientists investigated the range of temperatures humans can work in, at optimal conditions and without feeling cold or hot. They established that there is a thermal comfort zone ranging from about 68 to 75 degrees.

Later, in 1991, a book about business management entitled “Danger in the Comfort Zone” was published. Author Judith M. Bardwick used this scientific term and introduced it to the field of personal growth. She defined it as a state where people operate with an anxiety level of zero.

Now… what happens when the anxiety we experience is so low? You don’t innovate, you’re not creative, you don’t have much incentive. It’s an environment where the control we have over our environment is so high that we no longer create anything new. Nothing original stems from this place of comfort.

Girl on top a hill playing a flute, step out of your comfort zone.

In 2009, psychologist Robert Yerkes clarified the concept a bit more and talked about an “optimal performance area.” It’s where a small amount of stress and anxiety help people perform better.

That small degree of excitement is what drives us to look for other options and think more creatively. It encourages more innovative thinking in order to feel truly satisfied but always with a certain sense of control.

Hence, we should remember one important detail: taking a leap of faith without a parachute, eyes closed, is not always a good idea. If you step out of your comfort zone with too much enthusiasm, you may walk right into the danger zone. Here, you could easily lose the reins of control and overshoot that area of optimal performance.

I am the only one who decides how and when to step out of my comfort zone

Sometimes we’re forced out of our comfort zone not looking for success but just to survive. The young man who leaves his home to work abroad, for example, isn’t always doing to to “experiment.” Sometimes, it is a forced exile in search of better opportunities.

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
-Max DePree-

A person who leaves his partner after 10 or 20 years of living together doesn’t do it to succeed either. He does it to be happy again, to get himself and his dignity back. So, we must hear more than just the so-called gurus who tell us that people are much too comfortable.

Let’s remember that changes should never be taken lightly. Changes are made because there are concrete, clear, objective needs. The needs may be dissatisfaction, unhappiness, existential emptiness, apathy…

To conclude, just keep in mind that “changing for the sake of change” isn’t what you want. And only you can unlock the doors of your comfort zone to go find what you need. You are the one who will choose when. It will be when you feel the strongest and manage to slip out of fear’s hands.

Woman catching dragonflies.