5 Ways To Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone For Maximum Personal Growth

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woman breaking out of her comfort zone
Self

Learning how to get out of your comfort zone is not always the easiest thing to do.

Improving your work situation, relationships, and other important aspects of your life can be especially daunting, especially during these uncertain times of new challenges and accelerating change.

Yet, this might be the time to loosen some self-imposed constraints. There are opportunities to experiment and expand during the flux.

Though that can involve initial discomfort, you’ll open space and time for adventure and productive choices as you move beyond your comfort zones.

RELATED: Here’s How To Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone & Live The Life You Secretly Want

What is a personal comfort zone?

Many constraints are internal, even self-imposed. They include comfort zones such as habits, routines, and assumptions. Just be alert to when they create boundaries that limit your possibilities.

Other comfort zones are connected to external situations that you choose to continue.

For example, in relationships that primarily serve others’ interests, your partner may be the "taker." Are you usually the "giver"?

Such constraints actually offer opportunities for useful action, despite some possible discomfort as you move beyond the comfort zones that no longer serve your interests.

Start within yourself where you have immediate choices.

Moving forward this way is efficient and effective, not to mention accessible!

Who else knows you as well as you do? Focus on what you can do within yourself first to help avoid distractions from externals.

They can range from theories and labels to assumptions and activities that gobble time from making progress with your priorities. They also obscure what you actually want and need.

Be honest with yourself about what you can really control.

To stay off a repetitive trampoline — bouncing between "maybe this, maybe that" — sustain the clarity that comes from being honest with yourself.

Possibly identify emotional jams from resolvable issues that contain worthwhile opportunities to go beyond a comfort zone of conflict avoidance.

When you trade the illusion of control of what’s outside yourself for internal focus and useful action, use the bonus of released time to enjoy testing and exploring dreams and aspirations.

Perhaps there's something you've been avoiding due to perceived resource constraints, assumed requirements of daily routines, and readiness.

Dare to dream about the possibilities beyond your comfort zones.

As feminist, journalist, and social activist Gloria Steinem said, "Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

In comfort zones that provide opportunities for improving your quality of life, some hide parking places for inhibitions, blocks, and activities that you prefer not to do.

Which aspects would you want to set aside, limit, or find assistance in order to release time and strengthen focus for what you truly want to do?

As you wish, play with the ideas below and adapt them to help you escape the emotional limbo of inaction. Your choices could also free you to make manageable transitions to a better situation now and improved outcomes over time.

Here are 5 ways to break out of your comfort zone for healthy personal growth.

1. Identify matters beyond your control.

Write down the few major, intrusive issues to return to later when you have additional information or situations that have changed enough to open possibilities.

Then, stop thinking about them for a while.

2. Ignore others’ opinions about you.

Unless there are insightful lessons in them, you can instead revel in what you respect about yourself. Nourish a few abilities that you want to strengthen.

Only explore and embrace offered or solicited opinions that are accurate and useful. Then, ignore the rest — you can’t control what other people think, anyway.

3. Find security in accurate information and perceptions.

Gather and learn from sources and impressions that are most important and relevant for your situation and current, practical action. Keep brief notes for reassurance and recall.

If financial security is a challenge, explore temporary arrangements and cut back on expenditures that are no longer necessary or can be postponed.

Who can you count on for assistance? How will you pay them back in concrete and intangible ways?

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

4. Convert fear of the unknown to your favor.

Imagine the worst-case scenario and the most effective steps to deal with it. After some creative thinking, note your better ideas.

Avoid assumptions taken from past and present experiences that you don’t want to repeat.

Until the situation becomes clearer, put your fears in storage to avoid distractions and overthinking that usually result in sucking time, energy, and hope, as well as avoiding action supporting better outcomes now.

When you let present fear related to the past or even the present dictate your actions, you succumb to it.

As Congressman John Lewis said, "When you lose your fear, you’re free."

5. Learn from issues related to past mistakes or detours.

Identify one significant, representative mistake that you’ve made. Briefly describe — ideally in writing — any pattern or tendency you notice.

How does it relate to people, behaviors, and choices, associated fears and anxieties? What main emotions or assumptions prompted your unhelpful choices or actions?

Consider that information to figure out how to avoid repetition and additional wasted time and energy. Do the same for a major detour.

You can free yourself — or at least take a mini-vacation — from comfort zones in which you lose yourself, blocking progress that’s important to you.

Choose among and adapt any of the previous five matters that relate to your situation.

Invest in yourself by working through them on your own. Reach out to trusted colleagues, friends, family, and professionals for their ideas, assistance, and suggestions.

Continue moving beyond your comfort zones.

Keep appreciating your small steps forward, preferably with simple notes and reminders of regular gratitude to yourself and sources of assistance.

As you make smart choices, you could also navigate around any fear of missing out (FOMO).

For example, I have anxiety about learning and using technology. Yet, in order to be effective in my work and serve clients’ needs, continuing to skirt that issue is not in anyone’s best interest.

Eventually, I found a way and purpose to dive in by exploring technology matters for my new book, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future.

That commitment has kept me learning about and alert to constantly-changing technology.

I’m now past hiding out in the comfort zone of ignorance. But, I still grapple with being current about what I need to know, let alone using  technology where there's likely no comfort zone ─ for me, at least!

Whenever you berate yourself or find yourself repeating tendencies that let assumptions, irrelevant boundaries, or any other blocks intrude, be a peacemaker with yourself.

Don't get in your own way of progress. 

One way is to practice figuring out how to thwart, move through, or around what’s getting in your way.

After all, old habits and actions, especially what feels comfortable, don’t magically disappear. They are abetted not only by fear but also by laziness, the two factors philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche says are limitations for personal growth.

Let playfulness and reasonable expectations invigorate your progress.

Imagine yourself as a high-jumper using your pole to vault over a barrier you have created or accepted. Or, revisit your inspiring images or positive memories to free yourself of hangovers or hideouts.

They could include negative emotions, mental and physical clutter, and other limiting tendencies that you may have.

For any progress, give yourself a gift. Maybe create an enjoyable graduation ceremony to celebrate the move you’ve made beyond a comfort zone that postpones your progress in life and work.

What’s the first one you want to leave behind?

Journalist Chris Cuomo recently said, and I take this to heart, "We are what we do, not what we say."

Could it strengthen your credibility to yourself and others, as well?

Ultimately, what you choose to do proves you can move beyond a limiting comfort zone to authentic action that contributes to your quality of life and possibly to the well-being of people in your life.

RELATED: Why It's So Much Easier To Say 'No' To New Opportunities

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Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. Obtain the bonus first chapter of the upcoming, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future. Find your invitation to a free consultation as well on her website.