6 tips to leave your comfort zone

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The human brain is powerful. It allows us to build rocket ships, explore physics and overcome unimaginable challenges. Yet it also craves comfort. In many ways, the brain is a creature of habit. It creates neural pathways that it refers back to whenever it needs to make a decision. These pathways become patterns in our thoughts and behaviors. That’s why it seems like we get stuck in a rut sometimes. If you feel like your life is on a loop, you may need to leave your comfort zone.

What is the comfort zone?

The comfort zone is a psychological state in which individuals feel safe. It fulfills our need for certainty, one of the most powerful Six Human Needs. When we’re in our comfort zone, we know what to expect and we know how to react. We feel that we have some control over the situation. All of our immediate needs are filled and we feel at peace.

When we leave the comfort zone, we’re no longer in a familiar and controllable situation. The brain hasn’t created the pathways it needs in order to know how to react – and we may feel anxiety and fear. Yet learning to leave your comfort zone is essential.

Why leave the comfort zone?

Living life in your comfort zone has obvious benefits: low stress, reduced anxiety and general feelings of well-being. But it can also make you feel like you’re in a holding pattern. That’s because uncertainty and growth are also human needs. It’s a paradox: Too much certainty, and we won’t fulfill our need for growth and new experiences. But too much uncertainty can lead to anxiety and lack of productivity.

The ability to move out of your comfort zone in regular, positive ways allows you to strike the right balance between certainty and uncertainty. Pushing your boundaries can make you more productive, more adaptable and more creative. As you push your personal boundaries, you train your brain to adapt to new situations and create new neural pathways that make you a better problem-solver, decision-maker and leader. You truly become unstoppable.

How to leave your comfort zone

To leave the comfort zone, you must learn how to control the natural fear and anxiety you will feel when you try new things. It starts with getting in touch with your emotions and transforming your mindset.

1. Find your baseline

To move out of your comfort zone, you must determine your risk tolerance. Most people think they’re more risk tolerant than they actually are – and many people don’t actually know their risk tolerance because they’ve never been faced with an extreme situation in which it’s been tested. To find your baseline, determine your driving force. If your number one human need is certainty or connection, you may need to leave your comfort zone more than others.

2. Master your emotions

Those who are able to easily leave comfort zones may have more emotional mastery than those who stay stuck in routines. This doesn’t mean that they repress their emotions – in fact, they do the exact opposite. They acknowledge that their emotions are there to guide them. They feel their feelings fully and ask themselves, “What is this emotion really telling me?” When you leave your comfort zone, anxiety is normal. It’s telling you that you feel vulnerable. Acknowledge it, then move past it.

3. Develop a growth mindset

Growth is one of the most essential human needs: If you’re not growing, you’re dying. The most successful people in the world have a deep need for growth that pushes them to leave the comfort zone in search of new things. This is called having a growth mindset – the belief that humans can improve their skills. In contrast, people with a fixed mindset don’t believe they can improve themselves, and may not bother trying. When you develop a growth mindset, you’ll unlock your inner power.

4. Start small

You don’t need to go big immediately. Start small: Say “hi” to a coworker you’ve never said hi to before. Make a quick company announcement. Take a different route to work. Try a new restaurant. Begin to create new habits that turn your ability to leave your comfort zone into something that feels natural and becomes a part of your daily routine.

5. Find like-minded people

If you want to leave your comfort zone, you must surround yourself with the right people. People with a growth mindset. People who challenge themselves to be better and do better on a daily basis. People who will celebrate your accomplishments and help you learn from your failures. This could be a results coach, a mentor or a group of supportive friends. When you learn to leverage the power of proximity, anything is possible.

6. Accept failure – and find the lesson

Fear of failure is one of the most common fears that hold us back from achieving excellence. When you look at the best athletes, business people and actors, you will find they have one thing in common: they have all failed spectacularly at some point in their lives. The difference is that they don’t let failure hold them back. They know that in every failure there is a lesson – but you must move out of your comfort zone in order to find it.

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