The power of stepping outside your comfort zone, Jane McKenna



How often do you step outside your comfort zone? I did something this week that put me

WAY outside mine. But it was worth it – it has made me fear similar activities a little less

and I definitely felt a sense of achievement once I had done it.


So, what is our comfort zone? Why is it so difficult to move out of it? And most importantly,

what are the benefits if we do?


Our comfort zone is characterised by a feeling of calm, security and stability. This often

takes the form of routines or regular activities – a bit like operating on your life’s auto-pilot.

In fact, it’s not really about comfort at all, it’s about fear. Specifically, the fear of the

unfamiliar and not being able to predict what might happen when we take the first step into

the unknown.


During the pandemic, my life, like many others, became smaller, more self-contained and

easier to control. But this way of living cannot continue into perpetuity – if we want to

change, grow or progress we need to switch off the auto-pilot, take the steering wheel and

step out of the comfort zone.


Here’s how.



Identify what you would like to achieve


The problem with staying in your comfort zone, is that you miss out on experiences. Can

you name something you’d like to do, but just haven’t been able to? It doesn’t have to be

huge, just something that will give you a sense of ‘I did that!’ once you have done it.



Work out what it is specifically about this activity that is uncomfortable for you


I like to think of the comfort zone as a cosy house, and the front door is a gateway to new

experiences. I don’t want you to open the door just yet, but to visualise the other side of it

and reflect on exactly what it is about that activity or experience that makes you fearful of

it.



Get comfortable with being uncomfortable


The goal here is to get over the initial fear of the unknown. Travel back to the cosy house,

the next step is to open the door and cross that threshold. Now, different people will

approach this in very different ways. The bravest of us will take a deep breath and fling the

door open and step through it with purpose, eyes bright with possibility; others might step

onto the front porch but spend time here surveying the scene before taking the next step.

Each approach represents progress, and each of those individuals has pushed themselves

outside of what is comfortable to them and taken the first step.



Go at your own pace


As we’ve just explored in the metaphor above, everyone’s progress is personal. If the goal

you are aiming for feels overwhelming, break it down into smaller steps – no one is judging

you for how long it takes to cross that threshold - these small steps will soon build up to

something much bigger.



Keep going


The brilliant thing is that even the smallest step has expanded the parameters of your

comfort zone, making it so much easier to continue to do it again and again, and challenge

yourself more and more. By pushing your boundaries incrementally, who knows

where it could lead. You’ve totally got this!


 

This article was written by Jane McKenna, career and life coach. Jane set up Brilliant Me

Coaching to support women wanting to reshape their work/ life and find their story.


In September 2022, she will be launching the next cohort of her Relaunching Brilliantly group

coaching programme – designed for anyone wanting to make a change in their work/ life but

struggling to take the first step.