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Published on May 18, 2020

Comfort Zone: Why Is It Dangerous And How to Step Out Of It

Comfort Zone: Why Is It Dangerous And How to Step Out Of It

Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of your comfort zone.

It’s a quote that many people have said time and time again to push people beyond their comfort zones to great effects. But more often than not, whenever examples of confidence spring up, you and I only tend to see the end results. We see the final results of people’s efforts but not the efforts themselves.

There are other aspects that are hidden from us as well. Why should you be stepping out of your comfort zone in the first place? Why is it dangerous for you to leave things as they are?

When you begin to understand why your comfort zone can be dangerous and how to step out of it, you can push yourself to new heights and potential.

What Is a Comfort Zone?

Before getting into details, you need to know what the comfort zone is in the first place[1]. As the name implies, this is a zone or position in which you feel comfortable. As long as you stay in this area, you’re not going to feel pressured, anxious, or stressed. At first glance, it’s a good position to be in on the surface.

Why Is Staying Inside of a Comfort Zone Bad for Us?

So why is it so bad for you to be staying in that zone? Well, one thing that I’ve come to learn about improving myself is that in order to improve, it’s essential that you embrace fear and change in your life.

The issue with fear and change is that, when we are comfortable, we are less inclined to make those changes and lean on our fear. In the end, your life will begin to stall and remain unchanged.

On the surface, this doesn’t seem all that bad. However, with life, change tends to find a way. Whether it’s through something large like the coronavirus to something smaller like you wanting to be a better partner or financially secure, these shifts come with risks and changes.

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And depending on how much we are in our comfort zone will determine how much we resist those changes, even in situations where those changes are very good for us.

What Holds Us Back from Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone?

As I’ve hinted at a little bit, our resistance can stem from many places. That said, the most common ones can be boiled down to three fears:

  • Fear of change
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of the unknown

These fears are all manageable, and by learning about them, you can start to break them down in a way that works best for you. Here is what you can do for each one.

Fear of Change

As the most generalized fear of the three, this fear tends to mask the other two. You’ll be able to tell because this fear often leads to thoughts like:

  • This task is too big.
  • Why me?
  • I can’t do this alone.
  • I don’t know where to start, so I won’t do it.

As you can tell, if you have a fear of change, you’ll justify it in order to procrastinate on whatever it is that you need to be doing. You would rather keep things the way they are than put in work and take risks.

It’s a natural feeling that you’ve likely been leaning on ever since you were a child. It’s been ingrained in you. What matters now is that you work on changing it.

Fear of Failure

Going past fear of change, perhaps you remain in your comfort zone due to a fear of failure. I’m sure that many of you can relate as this particular fear can be instilled in various ways:

  • A childhood event or upbringing can cause you to internalize damaging mindsets.
  • You are a perfectionist or have perfectionist tendencies.
  • You over-inflate failures in your head, whether they are in reality big or small.
  • You are masking true confidence with false confidence when it comes to your personality and abilities.

Getting into more detail, fear of failure[2] can be described as a lack of confidence in yourself and your current abilities to complete a task or goal.

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Fear of the Unknown

The last common fear is the fear of the unknown. From a logical standpoint, this makes sense, too. Life is a mystery, and we have no idea where it’ll take us. Instead of you seeing this as a gift, you may use that as a reason to be paranoid and to be afraid whenever there is something that would disrupt your way of life.

This disruption can be something major like a job loss or a loss in the family to something smaller like your partner wanting to spend more time with you or you getting into better shape.

How you react depends on who you are, but it always comes back to you resisting change out of worry that your life could be different or, at best, better.

How to Break out of the Comfort Zone

Now that you have an understanding of the potential fears that stand in your way, you need to learn to break them down. Regardless of what fear you have, the methods to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone are relatively similar. I say relative because how people choose to act in order to succeed and strive in life varies from person to person.

There is no specific method that you need to take to push your comfort zone. What matters is that you do it in a way that makes sense for you.

1. Look at Your Habits and Challenge Them

Habits are things that you pick up from various life events. Some habits stem from family and friends, while other habits stem from your past achievements. Pay attention to the particular habits that have led you to past achievements.

These achievements can be big or small, but they remain with us so long as we exercise them. For example, consider walking. Walking was something we built a habit towards, and now we can do it without fail so long as we’re able to use both our legs.

One way that you can push out of your comfort zone is to look at your habits and begin to challenge them. If it’s a bad habit or a habit you want to break, replace it with a better one and reinforce it. For pre-existing good habits, find new and exciting ways to push yourself.

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For example, say you love working out and are in great physical shape. One way to break out of your comfort zone of your otherwise solid exercise routine is to try a different exercise or take a new class they’re offering at the gym. Or maybe you can give yourself a goal to prepare for a marathon.

In either scenario, this can present great challenges and change your life. When working out, you may not be so focused on cardio. On the other hand, if you’re breaking a habit, the challenge is starting a new one and implementing it.

2. Remind Yourself of Key Aspects of Change

Another way to break your comfort zone is to remind yourself of some key aspects of change. Change is a journey that you must take if you want to succeed. Part of that change is having lessons and learning from those lessons.

These lessons can stem from failures and successes. Some examples of these are:

  • If you want to change, you’ll need to trust yourself.
  • The process matters just as much as the results you’ll get in the end.
  • Effort in change is what matters. Even if you fail, you at least put in the effort, and that makes all the difference.

As many others have said before me, even if you fail, it’s not a complete failure unless you didn’t learn something. Learning is all a part of life, and walking away with a lesson can be just as rewarding as achieving something.

3. Experiment With Various Methods

As mentioned, there are so many ways you can step out of your comfort zone, and there is no right or wrong method. Every successful person has their own method for success and breaking out of their comfort zone. It’s key that you do the same.

While you don’t know which method is the best one for you, that’s kind of the point. Yes, it can be scary, but I’d argue it’s a reason to be excited. If one method doesn’t work, you’ve got dozens of others to get excited about and to apply in your life.

The idea that one of these methods can lead you to a new and exciting life filled with more fulfilment and satisfaction is thrilling. It’s human nature that you would want to be achieving more and getting more out of life.

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The question is what kind of methods are there? Well here are some brief examples:

Consider What’s Beyond Your Comfort Zone

When you have an idea of what the change looks like, you can be motivated to make that vision a reality. Try writing down three new things you would like to try. Tackle one of them each month. By starting small with things you are interested in, it will motivate you to step out more often.

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Always wanting more and never settling can seem scary for those in their comfort zones, but I’d say this is how you ought to live your life. Always strive to make changes, big or small. Will the changes be uncomfortable for a time? Probably. But after some time, it will become your new normal, and you won’t even remember the discomfort that came before.

See Failure as a Mentor or Teacher

I hinted at this as lessons can stem from failure. By training yourself to see failure as a teacher before experiencing failure, the experience will be easier for you. In an instant, you reframe yourself as a student, someone who is learning the right way to being more successful.

Final Thoughts

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. This quote makes more sense once you understand what your comfort zone really is and look at what comes when you begin to make changes in your life.

And the glorious thing about comfort zones is that it is never too late to stretch them and to break them. You can begin to make small changes in your life today and watch over time as they transform your life into something better. All you have to do is have a plan, adopt a method, and take action.

More Tips on Breaking out of Your Comfort Zone

Featured photo credit: AJ Yorio via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: The Comfort Zone
[2] SELF Research Centre: Fear of Failure: Friend or Foe?

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Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

Whenever you hit a rough patch in life, it can seem like the problems you’re confronting are unique to you and that the whole world is closing in. It might be that you are struggling to find a way out and just can’t see the light of hope anywhere when the going gets tough.

Thankfully, although you might not see it, there is always hope. Nothing lasts forever—not even bad times—and doing things like remembering why you started in the first place and practicing using your courage muscle are just a couple of things that can shorten the difficult times.

If you could find a way to not only survive but thrive when the going gets tough, how would your life change for the better?

Here are ten ways you can do to make that happen today.

1. Realize How Far You Have Come

Whenever you get discouraged on the path to wherever you want to go, it is usually because you are only looking forward, not around you or behind you. Your journey through life will last until your final day, so it is no wonder that you still see a long and sometimes daunting path ahead.

To keep going despite this, it’s important to take a moment or two to look around. Look at where you are standing now compared to when you first started. Look at how far you have come since you first began. Look at how many obstacles and challenges are behind you that you managed to overcome successfully.

The benefits of reflective practice are also extensive, and it is little wonder why.[1]

Looking back at how far you have come is usually the fire you need to keep on burning brightly into the future.

2. Remember Why You Started

When the going gets tough, you need something to cling to in order to keep your grit and remind yourself why you started doing something in the first place. Without this all-important “why, you will be quick to wander from your path.

Whenever things are at their worst, your number one reason for doing the thing is going to be what pulls you through.

As ex-Navy Seal and motivation master David Goggins puts it:

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“‘Why am I here?’ If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped to make the split-second decision to ignore your weakened mind and keep moving. Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight!”

Sometimes, life can be a bit of a fight, especially within yourself. So, having your reasons for continuing will always help pull you out when times are tough. Try writing these down and posting them in places you look at every day to help them have even more impact.

3. Make It a Habit to Move Forward

Habits are some of the strongest behavioral predictors that we have. Most of our habits happen in our subconscious and are triggered by external or internal cues.

The great thing about habits is that they can be formed through conscious, repeated behaviors, and when practiced enough, they can eventually take their place in the subconscious and guide your life.

Of course, you want good habits to be guiding your life in the background, not bad ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to make it a habit to always move forward.

Contrary to what most people say, moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be better every single day for the rest of your life. There are going to be slip-ups, bad days, and circumstances that blow you off course.

Moving forward is all about getting back on track as fast as possible. If you can make that a habit, you can always get closer to where you want to go.

4. Use ‘If-Then’ Planning

When the going gets tough in your life, one of the most effective frameworks that you can put into place is called the ‘if-then’ planning.

This is the simplified version of something called Implementation Intention, a concept created by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer in the mid-’90s.[2] It helps you to make sense of confusing situations and to be able to take action when you are really struggling.

The simplified process is as follows:

“If x happens, I will do y.”

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For example:

“If I start to have negative thoughts, I will take ten seconds to just breathe.”

“If I feel extremely stressed for three days in a row, I will take the fourth day off to recover and reset.”

If-then planning puts a strategy in place for when times are tough. It takes away the element of thinking, planning, and worrying as you already know exactly what you need to do in each situation.

The beauty of using if-then is that you can change the if and then for different situations based on whatever works best for you at any given moment.

5. Find Some Mentors

With the internet becoming more expansive and accessible as it has ever been, there are so many ways to get a peek into the world’s top minds and see what they do in their own lives when the going gets tough.

Most successful people have had to overcome some serious struggles to get to where they are. Do a simple search online, and you will no doubt find out about all of the challenges that your favorite people have had to overcome.

Because of this, you should try to take inspiration from these people and find your own mentors. It’s worth recognizing that nobody trying to live their best life can ever get through it without their fair share of challenges to overcome. That’s just part of the hero’s journey.

6. Get out of Your Head

Sometimes, all of the reasoning, thinking, planning, and ruminating in the world doesn’t get you anywhere. In fact, for the serial thinkers and problem-solvers out there, it is oftentimes that too much time in your head results in even more struggle rather than a release of it.

Yes, some things can be solved by thinking. But when the going gets really tough, it is usually just pure heart, emotion, and grit that are going to carry you through. Your mind can become a tyrant, and it is worth being aware of this.

When you feel your own thoughts weighing you down and can’t stop the incessant thinking and worrying about the past, present, and/or future, it is time to step out of your mind for a little while and get into your body. Lift some weights, go for a run, or take a pleasant walk.

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The mind and body are much more connected than most people think—especially when it comes to emotions and fears and doing something beneficial for the body often benefits the unsettled mind as well.[3]

7. Ruthlessly Forgive Yourself

One of the worst things you can do when the going gets tough is to come down hard on yourself. Everyone has these external and internal struggles, and the harder you are on yourself for having them, the more difficult and traumatic the episodes will be when you inevitably slip up.

A lot of people are far harder on themselves than they are on other people, and to keep going in tough times, you need to be just as empathetic with yourself as you would be with your best friend.

Made a mistake? Forgive. Are you still giving yourself a hard time? Forgive. Are you still getting angry over small things “even though we talked about this”? Forgive.

The hard times are much easier to get through when you are at peace with yourself. You will be astonished by how much less pressure you feel when this happens.

8. Take Smaller Steps

It is common for people to stumble in life because they are simply taking on too much at once. Whether it be too much ambition, unrealistic expectations of themselves or others, or some extra curveballs, big steps can sometimes be too much to take.

The truth about big steps is that they are rare, disruptive, and difficult to keep up without crumbling. The big steps—the real life-changing goals and dreams that you have—can often be broken into much smaller steps that are more manageable and that will get you to the same place.

If the going is getting particularly tough, it might be the case that you are simply trying to do too much at once. Try taking smaller, more manageable steps, and see if obstacles and difficulties become easier to navigate.

9. Use Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage

Everyone will agree that the courage we have stored within ourselves is often finite and difficult to sustain for long periods. We tend to think that making a big change in our life and getting out of a rut requires courage for long periods that we simply cannot manage.

The good news is that this isn’t true. Most of the pivotal moments of change in your life—including pulling yourself out of a hole when the going gets tough—come from small, courageous decisions in short, precise moments.

Quite often, using twenty seconds of insane courage when it is needed is enough to completely change the trajectory of our lives. Whether it be asking for that promotion, deciding to go to the gym for the first time in months, or having the courage to break through your insecurities and ask someone out, most of these only require a few seconds of insane courage.

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Standing up and walking into your boss’s office, getting the gym kit on, picking up the phone or sending the text—you only have to be courageous in these few moments, and then you can relax and let life unfold.

Twenty seconds? You can do that, easily.

10. Accept That Your Motivation Will Wane

One of the main reasons that people get discouraged and struggle to keep going in hard times is that they never expected their motivation to dip.

When we start a project or enter a relationship or take something new and exciting on in our lives, our motivation is high, and we are in a mindset of excitement. We start thinking about all of the positives that could come from these things.

However, as time wears on, motivation levels inevitably drop, and you start to focus on the negatives of what’s happening or the added responsibility that you forgot to consider.

When this happens, you have two choices:

  1. You can put on your rose-colored glasses of the past and falsely remember how perfect everything was;
  2. Or you can put on your realistic glasses, face the difficulties, and keep moving forward into something better.

The true test of character comes when you hit a dip, motivation wanes, and you just don’t feel like doing stuff anymore. The secret is to realize that all of this is temporary and that you don’t need motivation to act.

It’s nice to have motivation, but the true test of character comes when motivation inevitably wanes. In those moments, will you keep going?

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Each of these ten ideas for how to keep going when the going gets tough is versatile enough to be applied to almost any difficult situation that you find yourself in.

Life is going to present many difficulties. This isn’t something to fear but something to embrace. With these steps, you can navigate these stormy waters a little easier.

More Inspirations to Help You Stay Strong

Featured photo credit: Gaelle Marcel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: What Is Self-Reflection and Why It Matters For Wellness
[2] American Psychologist: Implementation Intentions: Strong Effects of Simple Plans
[3] The International Journal of Psychoanalysis: Emotional Processing: The Mind-Body Connection

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