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
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.
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
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.
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.
July 24, 2022