How to Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone 


We all want to feel comfortable. We think that staying in our comfort zone maximises pleasure and minimises pain. When you remain in your comfort zone, you don’t have to face pressure, so it feels like this is the best choice. Naturally, we want to do things that we know have worked before; this is why we like comfort and security.

When you’re in your comfort zone, you experience familiarity. There’s no risk of having to face a difficult situation. Examples of staying in your comfort zone:

Putting in a moderate amount of effort in the gym rather than pushing yourself to your limits

Eating junk food rather than eating healthy food

Staying in the same job for years rather than looking for a new challenge

Watching TV all day rather than studying

Remaining quiet rather than voicing your opinion in a group conference at work

Lying in bed rather than getting out of bed early in the morning when it’s cold

 

What Happens If You Remain in Your Comfort Zone?

Stepping outside your comfort zone is about exposing yourself to the risk of experiencing rejection, embarrassment, pressure, effort, and difficulty. You might be wondering why anyone would want to open themselves up to any of these situations? Isn’t this a form of pain or suffering? At first, you would assume so, but once you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the experience is vastly different.

Let’s say that you’re hesitant to voice your opinion in a group conference at work. By speaking up, you’re subjecting yourself to the possibility of rejection, embarrassment, and conflict. What if the other people in the conversation disagree with your views or make yourself sound stupid, or your opinion offends someone?

Your mind lists all the possible consequences of stepping outside your comfort zone. Most people realise that it comes with many risks, so they choose to stay in their comfort zone. What they’re unaware of is how it makes them feel in the long term. 

If you don’t push yourself, you feel miserable because you don’t have the resources to do anything courageous. It’s difficult to have high self-esteem when you let your fear consume you; it makes you feel weak and deficient. Your comfort zone disillusions you into thinking you’ll feel more content staying in your comfort zone, but that’s not the case. If you have a weekly group conference with your work colleagues, you feel like staying silent protects you from negative emotions like fear or embarrassment, but this backfires. 

Every week you refuse to speak out, you’ll feel scared that someone will ask you a question. Or, you’ll be concerned that other people think you’re too quiet in the meeting room. The same emotions you were trying to avoid, you paradoxically experience by staying in your comfort zone. If you don’t confront your fears, they will consume you, making you feel even worse. 

Another example of this would be when a man is too scared to speak to women. The fear of rejection prevents him from stepping outside his comfort zone. Since he’s not willing to talk to women, he’s not getting the relationship he wants. Since he’s not getting the relationship he wants, he feels rejected by women overall. This feeling is far worse than being rejected once by a woman.

What makes it even worse is that the misery you experience is self-inflicted because you weren’t brave enough to step outside your comfort zone. You’ll experience a lot of resentment and frustration when you see people achieving more success than you. They’re getting great results because they’re not letting their mind inhibit them from personal growth.

 

What Happens When You Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone?

On the other hand, stepping outside your comfort zone offers you so much fulfilment.  One of the primary sources of fulfilment in life comes from integrity. Living with integrity means honouring commitments that you’ve made to yourself. If you tell yourself you’re going to speak up in a conference meeting, you will uphold your integrity if you follow through by speaking up in the conference meeting.

This feeling of integrity creates cohesion in your life. It feels like all the different areas of your life are aligning. You don’t feel guilty about not taking action; you’re not procrastinating or resisting your current situation. Instead, you feel at peace with yourself because you know you’re taking steps that you can be proud of.

Integrity is a fundamental principle of personal development. You cannot live a fulfilling life if you’re not honouring your commitments. After you’ve overcome the initial resistance of making the painful decision, it makes you feel brave and powerful. When you start seeing the results from your bravery, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings you’ll ever experience. 

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone also has a remarkable impact on your self-esteem. When you’re putting yourself in challenging positions and overcoming them, your self-esteem completely changes. One of the core principles of self-esteem is self-efficacy, which is how confidently you believe you can succeed in any given situation. It’s also connected to how much control you have over the direction of your life. Someone with high self-efficacy believes that they can create whatever type of life they want for themselves.

If you’re continually challenging yourself, you’re going to feel highly confident in your ability to overcome difficult situations. You cultivate an attitude where you enjoy challenges. If you push yourself to voice your opinion in a group conference at work, this will increase your self-efficacy because you’re not letting your fear prevent you from taking action. You also develop confidence in your abilities because once you’ve voiced your opinion, it will be considerably easier to do it again in the future.

Someone who stays in their comfort zone has low self-efficacy. The conditions need to be comfortable enough for them to take action, which means they’re not in control of their lives because they depend on the external world. Most of the time, the conditions won’t be ideal; they will be uncomfortable and challenging. So if you have to wait for the conditions to change, you’ll experience slow personal growth. 

Instead, take the view that you’ll continue pushing your comfort zone regardless of the challenge. As a result, you’ll experience extraordinary changes in your personal growth. Any worthwhile goal will require you to step outside your comfort zone.

 

Making a Promise to Yourself

So how do you get all of these benefits? What’s the technique for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone? The method is simple, make a plan of what you’ll do and promise yourself you’ll do it. This technique’s effectiveness is overlooked due to its simplicity, but it will generate extraordinary results if done correctly.

If you want to become more vocal in group meetings, or you want to wake up at 6 am, make a promise to yourself that you’re going to do that. The best way to do this is by writing it down. We usually have these ideas floating around somewhere in the back of our minds, but they’re intangible and quickly forgotten. When you’ve got it written down in front of you, it’s hard to forget.

 

Integrity

When you make a promise to yourself, you’ve already made your mind up. There’s a couple of reasons why this works so well. The first reason is that we all want to live with integrity. It’s painful to break a promise that you’ve made to yourself if that promise is meaningful to you.

Most people don’t step outside their comfort zone because they make a half-hearted promise to themselves. The promise doesn’t mean anything to them. Since it doesn’t mean anything to them, it doesn’t matter if they follow through on it or not. When you make the promise, you have to think about why it’s important to you. Your reasoning needs to outweigh the temptation of making a comfortable choice.

 

Familiarity

Here’s the second reason why making a promise to yourself works so well. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that we like familiarity. By making a promise to yourself and continuing to think about what you’ve promised yourself, you’re making it the familiar choice. When you’ve already decided in advance what choice you’re going to make, your mind then becomes set on that choice.

If you’ve made a promise that you’re going to speak up in the next group conference, and you spend a day or two thinking about that promise that you’ve written down, it will become the most important task for you to complete.

Since you made that promise to yourself, you’ve spent time thinking about it and imagining it happening. Voicing your opinion now becomes the default choice. To choose the comfortable option, you would have to persuade yourself to act differently. 

Of course, it is still possible that you can persuade yourself to choose the comfortable route, but it’s a lot more difficult once your mind is set. This is the opposite of how it works when you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Usually, your mind is fixed on the comfortable choice, and you have to persuade yourself to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

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