Outside your comfort zone can be a good place to be, as long as you don’t tip the scales too far. It’s important to remember there’s a difference between the kind of controlled anxiety we’re talking about and the very real anxiety that many people struggle with every day. Everyone’s comfort zone is different, and what may expand your horizons may paralyze someone else. Remember, optimal anxiety can bring out your best, but too much is a bad thing.
Optimal anxiety is that place where your mental productivity and performance reach their peak. Still, “increased performance” and “enhanced productivity” just sound like “do more stuff.” What do you really get when you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone?
- You’ll be more productive. Comfort kills productivity because without the sense of unease that comes from having deadlines and expectations, we tend to phone it in and do the minimum required to get by. We lose the drive and ambition to do more and learn new things. We also fall into the “work trap,” where we feign “busy” as a way to stay in our comfort zones and avoid doing new things. Pushing your personal boundaries can help you hit your stride sooner, get more done, and find smarter ways to work.
- You’ll have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes. In this article at The New York Times, Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, explains that one of the worst things we can do is pretend fear and uncertainty don’t exist. By taking risks in a controlled fashion and challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn’t do, you can experience some of that uncertainty in a controlled, manageable environment. Learning to live outside your comfort zone when you choose to can prep you for life changes that force you out of it.
- You’ll find it easier to push your boundaries in the future. Once you start stepping out of your comfort zone, it gets easier over time. This same NYT article explains that as you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll become accustomed to that state of optimal anxiety. “Productive discomfort,” as they call it, becomes more normal to you, and you’re willing to push farther before your performance falls off. This idea is well illustrated in this infographic at Future Science Leaders. At the bottom, you’ll see that as you challenge yourself, your comfort zone adjusts so what was difficult and anxiety-inducing becomes easier as you repeat it.
- You’ll find it easier to brainstorm and harness your creativity. This is a soft benefit, but it’s fairly common knowledge (and it’s easily reproducible) that seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way that little else does. Trying new things can make us reflect on our old ideas and where they clash with our new knowledge, and inspire us to learn more and challenge comfirmation bias, our tendency to only seek out information we already agree with. Even in the short term, a positively uncomfortable experience can help us brainstorm, see old problems in a new light, and tackle the challenges we face with new energy.
The benefits you get after stepping outside of your comfort zone can linger. There’s the overall self-improvement you get through the skills you’re learning, the new foods you’re trying, the new country you’re visiting, and the new job you’re interviewing for. There’s also the soft mental benefits you get from broadening your horizons.
If you missed last weeks blog which was part 1 of this blog topic you can find it here: Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Stay tuned for next weeks addition titled “How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone”
You’ve seen inspirational quotes that encourage you to get out and do something strange—something you wouldn’t normally do—but getting out of your routine just takes so much work. There’s actually a lot of science that explains why it’s so hard to break out of your comfort zone, and why it’s good for you when you do it. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and do great things.
It’s important to push the boundaries of your comfort zone, and when you do, it’s kind of a big deal. But what is the “comfort zone” exactly?
What you do EVERY day is important.
Not just on the days that are flagged in your calendar as “important” – appointments, meetings, celebrations.
But every day.
All you have is today. Tomorrow, that’s simply a myth until it happens. Yesterday, is simply a memory, It’s TODAY, and today alone that is your only reality.
In 2002 I was given a second chance at life. Surviving 60% burns to my body after being hit by a terrorist bomb, you think that would have been enough for me to grab life with both hands and really start ‘living’.
But after surviving the blast, I still had to overcome the biggest battle yet, the battle we all face, and that’s LIFE.
Alive, but caught up in depression, spiralling out of control with alcohol and drug abuse, I was barely surviving the long days that were dragging out before me.
Everyone is working towards something.
Some people may have plans and goals firmly in place, others may be working towards a ‘vague’ idea of what they want out of life, either way, everyone is plodding along, day in, day out, until they reach that place.
A lot of people I speak to have told me that they feel overwhelmed by goals or plans and sometimes it can be all to hard to just get started.
Everything we do as living beings communicates a message. Both verbal and non-verbal communication – body language, a glance with your eyes, words and even sounds is sending signals to those around you.
However, all communication is not born equal and being able to communicate clearly and with confidence is key to being able to achieve your desired outcomes. Essentially, what you put out there is what you can expect to get back from others.