Ahh the comfort zone, so named because it’s the mental equivalent of being wrapped on the sofa smothered by a duvet. Well ok, Lifehacker actually defines it as “the behavioural space where your activities and behaviours fit a routine and pattern that minimises stress and risk.” But either way, it’s all about the cosy sense of familiarity, security and certainty. There’s nothing scary in the comfort zone!
Sure, the comfort zone does indeed have its benefits. Us humans are creatures of comfort, it’s our natural neutral state. There’s little stress in the comfort zone, there’s consistency and you’ve probably reached a consistency in your performance, or maybe even in your emotions? But be honest with yourself, isn’t also a little bit boring? When did you do something exciting in your comfort zone? When did you last do something that makes you proud?
Melinda Beck for The Wall Street Journal has successfully argued that a little anxiety, can actually be the magic ingredient in our growth. Stepping outside of our comfort zones is our way of challenging ourselves and reaching new heights. Without risk, how can we prove that we can rise to the occasion of attempting something we might not be any good at!
Think back to when you were a child (the time in your life when you did nearly all of your growing), think about how many risks you took. No stream was too wide to leap, no colour-combo was too wacky! It’s only as we grow older that we learn to fear failure.
Beyond growth, leaving the comfort zone can also help our creativity flourish. Trying something new gives you a blank canvas of exploration and experimentation, that would simply be impossible in the confines of the comfort zone! By its very nature, creativity is inherently risky. When we show our creativity, we feel vulnerable and terrified of possible rejection. But the rewards that can be reaped from creative achievement will more than make up for it. Plus, the more you do It, the easier it becomes, until one day, taking risks, well…becomes part of your comfort zone!
By taking calculated risks and continually challenging ourselves, we’re effectively self-improving, it’s easy to cultivate openness, imagination and a higher intellectual curiosity! It allows you to become more astute and will also help with making spot-on decisions. All of a sudden, a situation which would have once made you extremely uncomfortable, becomes the perfect arena to allow you to look around, observe, absorb and interpret everything you see. Your decision making abilities will improve tenfold!
When you escape your comfort zone, you are effectively vanquishing your mental barriers, it’s a huge personal achievement. Whilst we can’t always promise the results will be equally fantastic, the sense of pride you will feel will make taking away that cosy duvet, indescribably delightful!