7 Life-Changing Reasons You Should Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone More Often

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When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone? And what does stepping out of your comfort zone even mean?

We all have routines. You get up and do certain things, often in the same order. Whether you work from home or go to an office, have kids you must feed and transport, or animals to walk and care for, there is probably a general plan and rhythm to your day.

I love my routines. I like eating the same things, going to the same places, talking to the same people, even running the same route.

That said, when was the last time you changed it up? Changing it up means getting outside your comfort zone.

It can be something small, like stopping at the coffee shop you pass daily and picking up a cup of joe. It might be slightly bigger, like saying hello and possibly prompting a conversation with someone you normally walk past without a smile. Or it could be something major, like quitting your job in a big firm to go it alone, starting to write your first novel or speaking up to decry an injustice.


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No matter what level of change you're considering, here are 7 reasons it's important to step out of your comfort zone:

1. See what you can accomplish when you face your fears.

We all have fears. For you, it might be remaining within 15 miles of where you were born because moving away from everyone and everything you know is too scary. For someone else, it’s not taking a fantastic job offer because you’ll have to do some public speaking and you think you might not be able to pull it off without crying or barfing.

There’s a long list of things we fear, and that list keeps us from moving forward in life.

People move away from home, speak in front of groups, and do many other terrifying things, and they survive. You find that after you take the plunge, it’s generally not as terrible as you expected it to be. It gets easier the more often you do it. It gives you a chance to see that you’re able to do so much more than you thought you could.

2. Recognize you are more than your fear.

When you’re about to do that frightening thing, be it starting a new job or going on a first date, you experience more than simply fear. In the new job, there’s the excitement of a challenge. On a first date, there’s curiosity about who this person is and whether you’ll have a connection.

It helps to notice all the emotions and thoughts you’re experiencing. There may be feelings like excitement, curiosity, desire, and pleasure. There may be thoughts about taking on a challenge, what changes will come as a result and what other opportunities may arise.

Noticing the things you’re feeling and thinking, other than the fear, will help motivate you to keep moving ahead.

3. Expand your social networks and create opportunity.

Sticking to your routines means you probably encounter the same people in the same places on the same days. You may even have the same conversations, each time asking about the same things, their job or their mother, or each time avoiding conversation entirely. This keeps things static.

In a TED Talk about creating opportunities, Tanya Menon points out how widening our social network can create job opportunities, open us up to different ideas and allow us to have access to new resources. Most job opportunities come from new contacts, as opposed to the people we’re closest with.

Sure, there’s a little anxiety when you deviate from your routine, but it’s worth it when you consider the possibilities.


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4. Speak uncomfortable truths to provoke change.

Remember being in a group and hearing someone say something so cringe-worthy you could barely stop yourself from going on a rant? Why did you stop? Probably because you didn’t want to bear the discomfort of making others uncomfortable or the worry they would be upset with you.

The #MeToo movement has emboldened people to speak out about various injustices. How about you? Kindly pointing out a sexist or bigoted comment is not the most popular conversational strategy, but it can create change.

You can make a difference. Stepping into that discomfort is liberating. It feels good to get others thinking and be part of the change.

5. Follow your dreams to achieve them.

There’s pretty much only one way to achieve your dreams, and that’s to move toward them. Whether it’s the relationship you desire, a more fulfilling career or that side-hustle you think could turn into something big, you must sacrifice comfort to give it a shot.

You may have to try something new like online dating and face all that anxiety about possible rejection. You may have to start putting feelers out and then people will know you’re not deliriously happy in your job. But it will get you a few steps closer to your dream.

6. Be kind and increase your happiness.

It may seem like being kind doesn’t mean stepping out of your comfort zone. Consider whether you chose to have a brief conversation with your last restaurant server or whether you made eye contact and smiled at the person in the convenience store as you thanked them for your receipt.

We often automatically neglect these small kindnesses, even though they're often deeply appreciated. When you unexpectedly ask someone how their day is going or smile when you interact with them, you can see the pleasure it brings, and, in turn, you experience that same positive feeling.

7. Remove yourself from an unhappy situation and find the new.

We all have ways of remaining in an uncomfortable situation because it is known. Making a change means facing the discomfort of the unknown. As Cheryl Strayed noted in Wild, while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, “There was no escape or denial. No numbing it down with a martini or covering it up with a roll in the hay.”

You don’t know what will happen when you call off the wedding the day before, give up a long-term vice, or acknowledge that you were just not cut out to be a lawyer after three years of law school. What you do know is that staying is making you miserable.

The alternative is unknown territory. It’s also new possibilities.

When you pop into that coffee shop, the one you never go to, you might just meet the love of your life. That first conversation you have with the person in the downstairs office could lead to an intro to the editor for your novel, the one that’s going to be a bestseller. You will meet someone else, you will survive rehab, you will find another career.

But only if you step into the unknown — outside of your comfort zone.


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Judith Tutin, PhD, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at drjudithtutin.com where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and wellness to your life.

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