Ahhh the comfort zone. Just saying it feels good doesn’t it? The place our insides feel all cuddly and warm. Safe, secure and confident. We love it there. It’s familiar and predictable. The place where things go according to our plan. Where we have a sense of control.
So why would anyone ever want to leave it? This Huffington Post article gives us 6 Reasons To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone.
Taking an intentional trip outside of our comfort zone can be good for us as well as fun. It can help us become more productive and creative. It can help expand our comfort zone. It prepares us for unexpected events in our lives. Especially the times we get forced out of our comfort zone.
Plus – It is exciting! It provides an internal rush of adrenaline and dopamine.
Doesn’t that make you want to go?
But there is a right and wrong way to do this.
How do I know?
Let me tell you a story.
I bought a ticket the other day to take a trip leaving my comfort zone. I got more than I bargained for.
It was not preplanned. I bought this “ticket” by enrolling in a writing course.
I attended a webinar to learn more about writing. That part I planned. I had attended webinars before so they were inside my comfort zone. At the end of this webinar was the opportunity to buy the course and join its amazing community of writers. I wanted to but I didn’t have the funds set aside for it.
The desire for the support and community it offered was overwhelming. But signing up for this would push me outside my comfort zone. I wanted and needed the growth this would bring.
I had passed up this opportunity before feeling it was premature. But this time, it felt like it was time!
I took a leap of faith. It was exhilarating!
But I failed to pack properly.
What do I mean?
There are 3 things needful to pack:
1 – Bravery. Leaving your comfort zone causes anxiety. This does not need to stop you. You simply need to be aware of it and calculate how much you can handle. Neglecting to acknowledge the anxiety or fear will not make it go away. Quite the opposite. The anxiety or fear will become larger unless you face it and choose to be brave. This quote taken from nytimes.com article Tiptoeing Out of One’s Comfort Zone (and of Course, Back In) says it well.
I think the biggest mistake people make is not acknowledging fear and uncertainty.
2 – A return ticket. Doing something outside of your comfort zone expends energy that you need to replenish. Making an intentional choice to venture outside of it for a safe amount of time is quite beneficial. Yet you need to return to it. This is where you process your new experience and refresh. Your new experience must become a part of your normal structure to enlarge your comfort zone.
3 – Self-awareness / Accountability. The excitement can be addicting. Ever heard an adrenaline junkie? You need to know when you have had enough or have someone who will tell you. Going too far out or staying outside of it for too long is harmful.
How did I fail in my packing?
I understood I needed bravery.
What I did not know was that comfort zones are processing centers that we need. I thought they were just nice. I was unaware of how much I was demanding of myself because of the adrenaline. I rode the train of excitement caused by this new venture for too long like an adrenaline junkie.
What began as one step outside of my comfort zone snowballed into another and another…
At least 9 more steps without adequate processing.
At the end of the first week, something simple triggered a panic attack. I started to unravel inside. Nausea, dizziness, lightheaded, the rising feeling in my stomach of a tear-filled meltdown coming.
I had to take a Xanax. I hadn’t had to do that in a long time.
I was unaware of the truth. I thought living outside of my comfort zone was how to make it bigger and so was a good thing. I thought my success at doing so much for so long that I needed a Xanax was like a badge of honor. Like it was something to be proud of.
I was wrong. I over did it.
Blare June helped me see that in her article Don’t Burnout Babe: 8 Signs You’re Seriously Overdoing It
Knowing this I will pack better next time.
Taking a trip outside of your comfort zone is good. Just remember how to pack.Taking a trip outside of your comfort zone is good. Just remember how to pack. Click To Tweet
Leaving your comfort zone is anything that takes you out of the familiar.
Taking a different way home from work.
Shopping at a different grocery store.
Eating at a different restaurant.
Starting up a conversation with a stranger.
Getting a new hairstyle. …and the list goes on.
Everyone’s comfort zone is different, and what may expand your horizons may paralyze someone else.
Says Alan Henry in his article The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should)
Is there something you’d like to do? Do it!
What takes you outside of your comfort zone?
Please share your thoughts.
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Free download of Dare to Believe.