Stepping out of your comfort zone

Let’s begin our exploration into stepping out of your comfort zone with a quote from Brené Brown: “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both”.

In this blog our guest writer and mindfulness, yoga and stress management consultant, Bev Alderson, shares her top tips for stepping outside of your comfort zone.

There is nothing wrong with choosing a comfortable life. To be content with your partner, your family and friends, and where you have chosen to call home. To have a career you don’t mind, and a few hobbies to enjoy in your spare time. But what if this is your life and it feels like Groundhog Day?

There can be many reasons for life getting stuck on repeat, one of which is being caught up in your comfort zone. In some ways this article is about courage. The courage to proactively change what is not working, or to set a course towards a more inspiring and fulfilling life day to day.

So, let’s take a look at what a comfort zone is all about and decide, for ourselves, whether we choose to live within it or step out of it. Whether we choose comfort or courage.

What is a comfort zone?

There are literally hundreds of definitions of what a comfort zone is. For example, the Oxford Learners Dictionary defines a comfort zone as “a place or situation in which you feel safe or comfortable, especially when you choose to stay in this situation instead of trying to work harder or achieve more”.

We each have a brain full of learnt behaviours and tasks, that we can perform each day, without our having to consciously show up. The order in which we get dressed (yes, we all have one!), our response to questions such as “how are you today?” or the routes we take to the places we regularly go. Once we have learnt how to do something, and can repeat it effortlessly, we generally don’t have to think, or stress, about it too much. It is this that principally enables us to comfortably and safely go about our day, or aspects of our day, feeling in control and without having to put in a lot of effort.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

It is actually a brilliant system, when you think about it. Imagine if we had to think our way through the hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitive things we do each day! However, if key aspects of our life, such as our careers and/or relationships, are essentially being run on repeat it is likely to be a different story. Here we may find ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, in what is deemed to be a comfort zone – in our own version of Groundhog Day.

The theory is that, if we step out of our comfort zone, we will break the cycle. This generally means choosing courage over comfort, but the results can pay dividends. When we learn new skills, achieve a goal, or work our way through a challenge, we become better equipped for future experiences and perhaps more resilient in dealing with the ebbs and flows of daily life. We expand ourselves and our horizons. In the wise words of John Assaraf:“a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”