The comfort zone. That safe place that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s comforting, it’s familiar and it’s somewhere that the majority of human beings choose to place themselves. But in choosing to loiter within this zone for a large portion of our lives, we are effectively robbing ourselves of spontaneity, excitement, and–most importantly–we are denying ourselves the opportunity to follow our dreams. Here are ten reasons why placing a foothold outside of your comfort zone could be the singularly most important thing that you can do for yourself:
1. You’ll learn how routine can rob you of spontaneity
We all have a routine of some sort, whether it’s adapting your life to the demands and confines of a 9-5 lifestyle or molding your life around the daily demands of your family. The question we have to ask ourselves is are we slaves to our routines? Some level of routine is necessary in life and can keep us safe from the swirl of chaos. However, in allowing ourselves to be slaves to our routines, we effectively close the door on spontaneity and excitement. After all, if we do what we always did, we’ll get what we always got.
2. You’ll open yourself up to new and exciting opportunities
By stepping outside of your comfort zone, you step into the unknown. This can be scary but it’s really where the magic happens. Think about the last fun and spontaneous adventure that happened to you. You didn’t see it coming, but when it arrived it’s likely that it thrilled you to some extent. When we simply let go and try new things we open ourselves up to new opportunities we had no idea even existed.
3. You’ll discover a reservoir of inner strength
Nobody likes feeling uncomfortable, but sometimes in life it is necessary. People often say after they experience something that they were afraid to try that they didn’t know they had it in them. When we push ourselves into unfamiliar territory we tend to learn the most about ourselves. We learn that we are stronger and infinitely more capable than we ever imagined and when we get this memo it can fill us with an unshakeable confidence.
4. You’ll learn that dreams can become a reality
We all remember the dreams we had as children, but far too often these dreams fade into the background as we mature and the realities of life take over. Oftentimes these dreams can seem outlandish in the harsh light of day, but it’s important to know that these dreams are simply the kernels of our desire. A spark, an idea. Yet if we choose to step out of our own way and begin to take a footstep in the direction of these dreams, we begin to see that we can make them a reality.
5. You’ll learn to conquer your fears
Taking any type of risk in life is scary. Since the world outside your comfort zone is effectively an unknown quantity, stepping outside of it can feel a little jarring at first. Think about the last thing you did that scared you, whether public speaking, starting a new hobby or traveling the world. Then think about how this made you feel afterwards, perhaps the word euphoria comes to mind. When we do something that scares us, we learn that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
6. You’ll wonder why it took so long to make the leap
Stepping into new territory–whether starting a new business, quitting your job or ending a relationship–can feel strange initially. You might feel vulnerable or insecure. However once these jitters wear off and you begin to hit your stride you might start to question why on earth it took you so long. Much like riding a rollercoaster, the anticipation can oftentimes be worse than the actual ride.
7. You’ll no longer tolerate the status quo
Once you decide to step out of your comfort zone, there’s usually no stepping back. The fears and anxieties that seemed so debilitating bubbling around the confines of your brain don’t seem quite so scary when they are realized. You might even ask yourself what you were so afraid of in the first place. Your old way of life won’t seem quite so appealing once you’ve faced your fears and you may make a commitment to yourself never to play small again.
8. You’ll learn to rock the boat, and like it
When you take chances in life and push yourself in a new direction, certain people in your life might not like it. In busting out of your zone, it can reflect back on others that they are unhappy with their lives yet unwilling to change it. Rather than take accountability for this, some people might become angry, hurt or confused by your actions. Misery loves company and if you decide you don’t want to be miserable anymore you might think twice about maintaining relationships with those that don’t support your dreams.
9. You’ll welcome new people and experiences into your life
In pushing out of your comfort zone, you open yourself up to new experiences and new people. When you stay stuck or actively control all aspects of your life to make yourself feel safe, you are effectively closing the door on new opportunities. Even by taking small steps, such as joining a book club or signing up to a new gym, you open yourself up to the path of possibility. That new gym buddy could turn into one of your best friends who brings a fresh perspective on life that gives you the courage to take even bigger steps in life.
10. Your life will change
If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. Stepping into new possibilities requires trusting that things will work out for your highest good. However big or small the steps you choose to take, one thing is certain, your life will change. To quote Neale Donald Walsh, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.