How to Really Get Out of Your Comfort Zone (Or at Least Expand It)

Fear is a natural part of growth — here’s how to make it work for you; not against you.

Are you afraid of being successful?

It sounds counterintuitive as many of us spend our lives chasing career goals, but the hard truth is that many of us are too scared of the unknown or the uncomfortable that we never take that next step toward our goals.

Society teaches us that being outside of your comfort zone is tied to success, health, and wealth. It’s proof that you’re not satisfied with where you are, and you know that something greater is on the horizon. But in choosing to stay within your comfort zone, you’re saying that you’re either satisfied with your current achievements or too scared to make the next move.

Every time we shift toward something new or difficult, it becomes a little easier to take on that next uncomfortable task.

But should you be eager to escape the comfort zone you’ve already worked so hard to create? You didn’t get to where you are by accident, and you know that building upon your existing successes could be a long, difficult journey.

Here’s how to take that next step and know if you’re ready to do it.

Getting Uncomfortable Isn’t Always a Good Thing

comfortOur current patriarchal and capitalist culture focuses on competition and never-ending expansion. As a rule, society pressures people to feel like productivity and growth are non-negotiable if you want to be successful. While this is true to an extent, you should realize it’s not the end-all formula for success.

Sometimes, there is value in stepping out of your comfort zone. There’s nothing wrong with learning, expanding your horizons, and testing the boundaries of who you are and who you can be.

Other times, this constant growth mentality can be problematic.

If your progression is not for any other reason than to live up to a cultural ideal, then you lose sight of personal values and inner truth. If you’re expanding at the expense of your emotional and physical health (e.g., not getting enough sleep, or eating healthy meals, or giving your mind a break, etc.) or not remaining true to yourself, you will never see the real benefit that such growth opportunities should deliver.

Many people try to break their boundaries to prove their worth because they’re led to believe they’re not enough now.

Being uncomfortable in these conditions doesn’t always lead to success. In fact, it can be damaging — if things don’t work out, you feel less inclined to step out of your comfort zone later when it really is the right approach to take.

How to Know When to Take a Risk

You may be successful inside your current comfort zone, but to achieve something greater, you must be willing to do something different than what you’re already doing. How do you know it’s the right time and reason to take the next step?

Before taking action, tune in to decide if that action is worth taking. Does it align with your values, honest aspirations, and desires? Will it move you forward or simply distract you? Will it create more work for you and lead you to burnout?

Take note of how you feel about the prospect — excited, disgusted, scared? Your gut feelings are telling you something, so make sure you listen.

Sometimes, being in your comfort zone is the best place to be. It’s often where you can connect with yourself, do your best work, focus on your strengths, and be your most creative, honest self.

The more in tune you can be with yourself, the better positioned you are to take the right kind of uncomfortable action that will lead you to do greater things.

Taking risks looks different for every person. I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, comments, or insights about taking control of your comfort zone — drop them in the comment box below, and let’s discuss!

Felicia Baucom
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