Each article in Balanced Achievement’s ‘Conscious Questions’ series focuses on a particular question that you can ask yourself to increase your levels of success, happiness, and fulfillment. By consciously asking yourself transformative questions that are geared towards inner exploration and personal growth, you will be able to get in touch with your untapped creative resources and find innovative ways to get more out of life. Each and every question that we present is uniquely designed to bring more blissful understanding into your life. In this article, we look at the question ‘How can I step outside of my comfort zone?’
It was in the early 1900s when a number of now-immortal success figures pioneered the modern industry of personal development. Thanks to the work of America’s first inspirational icons Wallace D. Wattles, Dale Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill, we now have access to an ever-expanding base of self-help literature that we can use to further our lives. Since these three motivational giants inspired the masses with their historical books, new leaders in the industry have helped to advance the field and personal growth strategies found within it. Today, the likes of Jack Canfield, Steven Covey, and Tony Robbins continue to conceptualize new tools and methods that help individuals grow in different ways.
While the self-help leaders of the past and present disagree on which personal development strategies help individuals grow the fastest, they all agree that happiness, success, and fulfillment can only come when individuals are willing to step outside of their comfort zone.
There are a seemingly endless amount of ways that we can challenge ourselves and expand our comfort zones. One of the surest ways to do so, on a regular basis, is to ask ourselves “How can I step outside of my comfort zone?” and use the answers we discover to further our personal growth. When we take steps to improve the quality of our lives, in any area of life, we will be handsomely rewarded both internally and externally. As the prominent American author Neale Donald Walsch told us:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Why Expanding Our Comfort Zone is So Important:
There isn’t much debating the fact that as human beings we share the common goal of finding lasting happiness and fulfillment. Even though individuals aim to fulfill this desire in many different ways, every action that a person takes is in some way geared towards creating higher levels of life satisfaction. Two of history’s most famous psychologists, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, understood this truth quite well and used it as the basis for the humanistic psychological perspective they developed.
When Abraham Maslow conceptualized his widely acclaimed Hierarchy of Needs, he pinpointed personal development and growth as the catalysts that could help individuals find the meaning in life that they desire at the deepest level of their being. Maslow also understood that only by challenging one’s self and stepping outside of their comfort zone could individuals reach their highest potential. He tells us:
One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
Since at the deepest level of our beings, each of us yearns to transform from the person we are today into the person that we know we are capable of becoming, we must be willing to challenge ourselves to grow as individuals. When we consistently step outside of our comfort zone, we will not only be rewarded with external successes and improved relationships but more importantly the internal satisfaction that comes from improving one’s self. By asking ourselves each day “How can I step outside of my comfort zone?” we can discover countless opportunities for personal growth, and when we act upon these answers, we will be taking steps towards finding the fulfillment we crave at the deepest level.
The Countless Ways to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone:
Whenever individuals consciously act in a manner that goes against the comfort of their normal routine, they are stepping outside of their comfort zone. By purposefully thinking about the numerous ways that you can expand your comfort zone, and acting upon the answer you contrive in the process, you can move closer to reaching the ultimate goal of self-realization. Since each and every human’s life is uniquely complex and contains numerous facets, there is a wide range of ways that each of us can grow.
By regularly asking ourselves “How can I step outside of my comfort zone?” we can find a seemingly endless amount of ways that push us towards the life-affirming uncomfortably that comes with personal growth.
One of the most useful things that we can do to discover comfort stretching activities is to create a vision statement for ourselves that outlines the person we would like to be in every area of life. By thinking ahead and envisioning your ideal self, you can begin taking challenging steps toward becoming that person. If you are struggling to think of activities that push you outside of your comfort zone, however, here is a list of potential challenges, across every area of life, that can help you get started:
Relationships & Communication:
- Connect with an old friend that you lost contact with.
- Ask someone on a date.
- Focus on making more eye contact when communicating.
Career & Finances:
- Go to a networking event or professional conference.
- Give some of the money you spend on unessential items to charity.
- Put a portion of every paycheck into savings to help you save for big goals in your life.
Health & Fitness:
- Try a new physical fitness activity such as yoga.
- Try a new restaurant with foreign and exotic cuisine.
- Eat as a vegetarian for a day.
Personal & Intellectually:
- Take a course at a local community college.
- Plan and take a trip to a foreign country.
- Join a group or club such as Toastmasters.
- Learn how to meditate.
- Volunteer at a local nonprofit.
- Speak during a service at your local place of worship.
As you can see, there are a number of ways that we can step outside of our comfort zone in search of personal growth. This list here only touches the surface and could be expanded to include an almost infinite amount of activities. It is important to remember that there are both smaller steps that we can take on a daily basis to stretch our comfort zone and massive actions that we can take every once in a while to expand our comfort zone further. Regardless of your individual situation and circumstances, each of us should aim to push ourselves towards growth by stretching our comfort zone as much as possible.
Universal Truths to Remember when Challenging Yourself:
As you set out to expand your comfort zone through personal development and growth, there are a number of important universal truths that you should continuously remind yourself of. In particular, you should make an effort to regularly recall the following four truths until they become ingrained beliefs, as these will ensure your reasons for growth are pure and push you through the inevitable setbacks that come with comfort zone expansion:
- Redefine What Failure Means: The number one reason why stepping outside of our comfort zone is so challenging is because it stirs fear inside of us. Instead of thinking about growth-promoting activities in terms of wins and losses or successes and failures, we should aim to see them as nothing more than opportunities to learn and grow. By redefining what failure means, and searching for positive learning experiences in negative situations, we can reduce the fear that we feel when we challenge ourselves.
- Personal Growth is Uncomfortable: To push yourself and grow as a person is a process that is filled with not only feelings of fear, but also frustration, doubt, and discomfort. It is important to remind yourself that unwanted cognitions, emotions, and feelings are normal for individuals expanding their comfort zones. Instead of thinking about these things negatively, view them as a clear sign that you are moving your life forward. Take it from legendary self-help leader Brian Tracy, who tells us:
Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
- There is No Final Destination: For all too many individuals, the process of personal development that stretches one’s comfort zone is seen only as a tool to get them what they want. They believe that once they achieve their goals, they will be able to relax back into comfort. In reality, however, you should make the commitment to self-improvement for the entirety of your life. By doing so, you will ensure that you are continuously reaching evolving levels of passionate living that produce higher levels of life satisfaction.
- Find Joy in the Process of Reinventing Yourself: Just as many individuals think of personal development as having an endpoint, all too many people think it is about things that should be of secondary importance. While one may obtain new material possessions, more financial wealth, and improved social status as a byproduct of personal development, these things should be viewed as insignificant compared to the life-affirming internal feeling that is naturally generated from the process. When an individual is able to think in this way, they remain in control of their feelings of happiness and joy.
Asking Yourself “How Can I Step Outside of My Comfort Zone?”:
If you are serious about your own personal development and growth, there may not be a better question to ask yourself than “How can I step outside of my comfort zone?” By committing yourself to ask this question each and every morning, you can continuously discover new and challenging ways to grow as a person. It is important to remind yourself that personal growth is one of the biggest pieces of the fulfillment puzzle, and by regularly stepping outside of your comfort zone, you will be on your way to finding the lasting happiness you deeply desire. Now, to end this installment of Balanced Achievement’s Conscious Questions series, we can remind ourselves of a quote from the celebrated politician and human rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt:
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”