It has long been known that stepping out of your comfort zone is where magic happens. Most of us have seen the motivational illustration of this theme somewhere on the internet. It seems trivial and common knowledge to most; then why is it that most people are terrified of stepping out of their comfort zone and stretching the limits of where they feel safe?Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone Risks and Rewards
Well the reason is the perceived risks we see ourselves facing when we dare to even peek out of the comfort bubble we have created. It is important to understand the word perceived and why I use it. Most risks in life, except the ones that is imminent and right in front of you like a speeding car coming at you when crossing the street, are perceived risks that our psyche creates in an attempt to shelter us from the consequences it perceives. Our subconscious has a way of painting a dark picture of what the consequences could be if we challenge it. No doubt that the subconscious is our friend, it wants to keep us safe and connected to what is normal and comfortable but it can also be our greatest foe when it comes to growth. Growth happens only when we are willing to stretch and embrace the rewards as well as the risks that come with it. But then why should one want to grow? Isn’t it better to stay within the comfort zone and be comfortable? The answer to this question can only come from the person that asks it. But to shed some light on the topic let’s look at what are the risks, real or perceived, that we may face and why growth can be so rewarding.
- Fear of failure: This might be the single biggest reason why people stay within their comfort zone, the fear of failure. Trying new things is intrinsically difficult and its difficulty stems from our fear of it not working out. We need to get comfortable with failure because failure in this moment is a sure step to moving towards success in the next. The concept of turning mistakes into stepping stones is what John C. Maxwell popularized in his book Failing Forward. Reaching new heights involves the risk of attempting something we might not succeed at.
- Judgment from others: This one is closely related to the fear of failure since we are most afraid of the judgment that comes when we fail, or think we have failed. Think about it, if there was no one around wouldn’t you take all the risk possible and not worry about it? We must understand that the judgment we fear from others is truly a reflection of the judgment that we create on ourselves. Knowing this as we get closer to loving ourselves, wholly and truly, we get farther away from judgments of others and more importantly of our own.
- Losing the known: Another risk we perceive is losing what is known to us, what is familiar and what is comforting. To step out of your comfort zone by definition means stepping away from the known and this is a scary prospect for our subconscious that wants to keep us safe. Let’s remind ourselves that for everything comfortable that we may lose we may gain something new and exhilarating for it is outside our comfort zone that we realize what we have been missing.
- Growth: When we were children risk taking was natural, as adults we learn to become fearful of failure and tend to hold ourselves back in attempting new things. Author of Self-Renewal, John Gardner says “We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure — all your life. It’s as simple as that.”
- Confidence: confidence is something that rises significantly as you make the conscious choice to step out of your comfort zone. Experiencing the results of your courage makes you more confident in your abilities to move past challenges.
- Peak performance: When we step outside of our comfort zone we naturally feel anxious. A little anxiety can help us perform at our peak, psychologists have found. In other words, when we challenge ourselves, we tend to rise to the occasion. We cannot expect to evolve in our lives and careers if we only stick to what we know.
- Fulfillment: the funny thing that we all chase, either knowingly or unknowingly starts to materialize itself as we challenge ourselves overtime by constantly stepping out of our comfort zone. We start feeling fulfilled in our work and happy in our lives, our relationships get deeper and stronger as we start feeling more alive and present.
- Wealth and Financial Freedom: A byproduct of all the above is the possibility of creating wealth and financial freedom. The money you make is directly proportional to the value you create in the marketplace. Stepping out of your comfort zone creates value for you and in turn that inspires you to create value for others.