The comfort zone is a mental state or situation where you feel safe and in control of your life. In it, exist only familiar situations, people, and routines. Stress levels are quite low in the comfort zone because you aren’t required to do anything new, and don’t have any challenges to face.
No, stress or challenges?! Sounds pretty great right?"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." -Unknown Click To Tweet
But the problem is, that if you want to grow or change in any way, staying in the comfort zone makes it nearly impossible.
To form new habits, learn new skills, accomplish new things, discover new passions, and meet new people – you must venture out from the safety of your comfort zone.
It is not an easy thing to do – but it can be done!
In this post, I will present a 3-step process for how to make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone so that you can improve your habits and live life to the fullest!
I will even present a method for stretching or expanding your comfort zone so that things that were once uncomfortable and out of reach, become possible!
Shall we get started?
The Benefits of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
We’ve all likely heard the quote by Neale Donald Walsch stating that, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.
But what does that actually mean? Why is it important to step out of your comfort zone, and is there really any harm if you decide you’d rather not?
I’ll let you decide for yourself. Here’s what science has to say about it.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone:
- Helps you realize your full potential and discover what you are truly capable of.
- Allows you to try new things and take risks presenting opportunities for you to learn, discover new talents and passions, and grow as a person.
- Helps you learn how to deal with the unknown, cope with change, and overcome challenges.
- Builds courage, independence, and self-confidence.
- Makes life more interesting, and can improve overall happiness and quality of life.
How One Man Set Out On A Quest To Flip His Comfort Zone Upside-Down
So now we know the benefits of stepping out of the comfort zone – but how do we actually go about doing it, both purposefully and consistently?
One man named Jia Jiang took the idea of regularly stepping out of his comfort zone to the extreme. He undertook a quest in which he subjected himself to 100 days of what he called public “rejection therapy”.
Each day, for 100 days, he did a task that he expected to get rejected at and then posted the video on YouTube for the world to see.
Why on earth would anyone do this to themselves you might ask? Jia explained that he decided to undertake this quest after his pitch for funding for a new business venture was rejected. He was devastated by this rejection, and wanted to make sure he would never be caught off guard by it again – hence his rejection therapy.
Jia started out slow, making small requests from strangers like asking if he could get a “burger refill” at a restaurant.
At first Jia said it was really uncomfortable and embarrassing, but he found as he continued his quest, that each rejection got a little easier.
Soon Jia was making bigger and bigger requests like asking to cook his own food at a restaurant, and (my personal favorite) visiting a fire station and asking the firefighters if he could slide down their fire pole.
By the end of the100 days, Jia said he felt more bold, confident, and even “rejection-proof”.
If you want to learn more about Jia Jiang’s experiment in rejection and where he’s at now, check out his:
- TED Talk entitled, What I learned from 100 days of rejection.
- Website, Rejection Therapy
- Book, Rejection Proof
How You Can Make A Habit Of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone Too
Don’t worry, your ventures outside of your comfort zone need not be so extreme as Jia Jiang’s (unless you’re a glutton for punishment of course, and in that case, go for it!).
But how can we take the lessons from his experiment, and apply them to enrich our own lives and help us achieve our goals?
I think there are 3 big takeaways from Jia’s experiments, that you can use to make a habit of stepping outside your comfort zone when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
First, figure out what makes you UNcomfortable. For Jia, it was rejection.
Second, commit to doing one thing outside of your comfort zone each day. Note, that it doesn’t necessarily have to be every single day. It could be once a week or three times a week etc. The important point here is that it should be a regularly scheduled thing so that you don’t procrastinate.
Third, start slow, and build up to tasks that are further and further outside of your comfort zone. For example, Jia started with asking for a burger refill, and worked up to larger tasks like the fire pole etc.
[Sidenote: this advice also follows that of one of my favorite quotes. “Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt]
Example Of How Consistently Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone Can Help You Achieve Your Health And Fitness Goals
To understand how this 3-step process mentioned above can help you achieve your health and fitness goals – let’s examine a case study – meet Mary.
Mary has over 50 pounds that she would like to lose to get her blood lipids and blood pressure back on track, and to feel more comfortable in her own skin.
Mary has tried to lose the weight many times, using many different methods including multiple crash diets and exercise programs.
She has told her friends and family of her goals before each of her previous attempts, and each time she failed to lose the weight and ended up quitting on her goal.
Due to these past failed attempts, Mary is extremely embarrassed and uncomfortable to even be attempting to lose the weight again, despite the goal being very important to her.
She has decided to give it another try but is extremely nervous to do the following things: go shopping for workout gear, be seen wearing workout gear or at the gym, to tell her friends and family that she’s trying again, and to join group exercise classes.
Possible progression for gradually stepping out of her comfort zone:
- Window shop online for types of workout clothes she thinks she’d be least embarrassed in.
- Figure out what store near her carries that brand of workout clothes.
- Go to the store and buy one outfit.
- Wear the outfit at home alone so she can get used to it.
- Try a short workout at home (repeat until ready to move to the next step).
- Start walking around the neighborhood (repeat until ready to move to the next step).
- Tell someone about her goal.
- Call the gym to ask about a membership.
- Go in and sign up for a membership.
- Walk on the treadmill at the gym (repeat until ready to move to the next step).
- Join a beginner level group exercise group.
Note that these tasks address a lot of Mary’s fears around working out and losing weight. They also start out small, and work up to bigger and bigger tasks. Some of these smaller tasks could be completed every day, but the larger ones might be a bit more spaced out.
Each one of these tasks will feel uncomfortable to Mary at first, but as she completes each one, she will slowly and steadily increase in her confidence levels and we’d likely see that she would be willing to venture out to work on bigger tasks that are further away from her original comfort zone.
Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Think of the comfort zone like a muscle. The more you challenge a muscle, the bigger it grows. As the muscle gets bigger, the tasks that were once difficult for it, become easier.
The comfort zone is the same. The more you challenge your comfort zone, the more you’ll feel it expand and grow. As your comfort zone expands, you’ll realize that what once made you uncomfortable, no longer does.
By growing, the muscle is preparing itself for larger challenges that it may be faced with in the future.
The same is true of your comfort zone – when it expands, your confidence grows and you will be able to venture further and further from what was your original comfort zone. And this will be an incredibly liberating realization!
Recall that we saw this happen with Jia Jiang an his Rejection Therapy – he was embarrassed by even the smallest rejections at first, but soon became accustomed to them, and by the end of his 100 rejections, he was actually enjoying it!"As you gain confidence, 'I can do this!' becomes 'What else can I do?'" – Chris Guillebeau Click To Tweet
In the image below, the blue innermost circle shows the original comfort zone. Each of the bigger (grey and white) circles shows how the comfort zone can expand through the effortful practice of stepping out of the comfort zone on a regular basis.
By purposely stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis, you will build confidence, and gradually be able to take on larger tasks – tasks that you were once too afraid or uncomfortable to even attempt!
To make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone:
- Figure out what makes you UNcomfortable.
- Commit to doing one thing just outside of your comfort zone each day (or at least on a regular basis).
- Start with small tasks and gradually work up to bigger ones.
And there you have it, an easy-to-follow 3-step plan for how to make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone so that you can achieve your health and fitness goals and live your best life!
What did you think of Jia Jiang’s Rejection Therapy?
Is there a part of your life where you would like to step out of your comfort zone more?
Please share your experiences in the comments – you never know what might motivate others to make their own change!
P.S. – don’t forget to check out my brand new Free Resource Library! It’s got all kinds of checklists, templates, and worksheets for building healthier habits and living your best life! All you have to do to get instant access to my entire library is sign up below.