We usually avoid difficulty whenever possible, but if you make an effort to do something difficult every day, you will really achieve something big one day. In this video, we will explain the three main reasons for taking this approach to learning how to come out of your comfort zone. And maybe by the end, you’ll be inspired to do something difficult yourself.
The majority of people are concentrated in this circle. This is our comfort zone. We all have one, and we enjoy being in it. Typically, it looks like this: Going to school or working where we do what is necessary to get by, but not necessarily more. Getting quick dopamine hits on our phones or other devices throughout the day. Spending weekends with the same people with whom we’ve always socialized. We’ve been holding onto the same beliefs for years, refusing to consider alternative viewpoints.
It essentially means choosing the path of least resistance. Life becomes a predictable routine with few real challenges, and we become stagnant. And it’s easy to see why the majority of people live here for the majority of their lives. As the name implies, we’re at ease here because we’re not pushing ourselves. At first glance, nothing appears to be wrong with that. Why would we willingly put ourselves in a position of conflict if we didn’t have to? However, if we only live our lives in our comfort zone, we may be unknowingly doing ourselves an injustice.
While our comfort zone is pleasant, it does have one major downside. People who are stuck here for too long don’t just stagnate, but they often regress backward as well.
When you do the same things in the same way over and over, your comfort zone shrinks. Things that used to make you happy are now making you less happy. Let me explain with an example. Someone who is socially anxious and fears social interaction usually dislikes the prospect of meeting new people. Experiencing something out of their comfort zone. As a result, they prefer to spend their time alone, or if they do socialize, it is with people they are familiar with. That’s perfectly fine.
But suppose this person begins to spend less time with their current friends and more time alone. Their current comfort zone will gradually shrink. Because they do not confront their fear, it grows larger. And even calling their current friend group may become more difficult. As you can see, giving in to current comfort can paradoxically lead to future discomfort.
When a muscle is not used for an extended period of time, it withers and shrinks because there is no reason for it to remain large. The same thing happens when we don’t push ourselves. We become less capable of dealing with the challenges that life throws at us. That is the first reason I try to do something challenging every day. I don’t want to become stagnant, and I don’t want my current comforts to become uncomfortable in the future.
We leave our comfort zone when we push ourselves and do something that is a little more difficult or challenging for us. Then we enter the zone of expansion. This is where we struggle and feel like inept fools, but it is also where all real progress is made. You’ve probably noticed this as well.
If you lift the same weight every time you work out at the gym, you will not improve. If you only practice what you already know when learning a new language, you will not progress. To progress and improve, you must leave your comfort zone and increase the challenge. This could include increasing the weights on your lifts or reading something new and attempting to recall that information without assistance. Yes, it will be unpleasant. You will, indeed, struggle.
And, yes, you will most likely feel stupid. But doing anything worthwhile necessitates going through this because the things with the greatest payoff are always the most difficult at the moment. There can be no advancement without adversity. Keep that in mind.
Of course, there isn’t just one comfort zone for everything. We have several zones. You may be pushing yourself in some of them while stagnating or deteriorating in others. For example, you may be regressing in your social skills while stagnating in your work and pushing yourself to the limit at the gym. It is up to each of us to determine which zones require additional attention. And it’s perfectly fine to pause progress in some areas if you’re content with where you’re at. There’s no need to overdo everything you do. If you’re unhappy with your current situation, there are a few options for moving from comfort to growth.
You’ve probably already identified an area where you’re stuck and want to improve. There are three approaches you can take. The first is to do it more consistently. The second method is to do it more intensely. Finally, the third method is to do it for longer periods of time. All three will make whatever you want to improve more difficult. I believe they are mostly self-explanatory, but I’ll go over them quickly using running as an example.
To begin, doing it more consistently means that instead of running three days per week, you try to increase it to four. It becomes more difficult as you do it more frequently. However, this also helps to consolidate the behavior and makes it more likely that you will repeat it in the future. Second, doing it more intensely implies doing a more potent version of what you normally do.
This could include trying something new, such as sprinting or running up a hill. Essentially, instead of running at 60% capacity, you increase it to 90%. This also adds variety and makes the activity more enjoyable because you are not doing the same thing every time.
Third, doing it for longer periods simply means devoting more time to it whenever you choose. So, instead of going for a 20-minute run, try going for a 30-minute run. Basically, you push yourself and stick with it for a little longer than usual. It’s as simple as that.
All of this can be applied to almost any activity. Do you want to learn a new language? Do it every day, if possible multiple times a day; increase your learning time by 15 minutes, and use active recall along with spaced repetition to remember more. Do you want to improve your social skills? Put yourself in situations where social situations are likely to occur, try saying an extra sentence each time you find yourself in one, and be the one to invite people out.
All three methods are effective for moving from comfort to growth, but some are more effective than others depending on the area you’re working on. For example, if you’re trying to learn an instrument, you’ll discover that playing for 10 minutes every day is preferable to playing once a week for an intense hour. Also, you shouldn’t use all three methods at the same time, or it will be too much, too fast. Instead, you should start with 1 and then expand from there.
The area you want to be uncomfortable in must have a long-term benefit. When you study something, for example, you may feel stupid at first, but as you absorb new concepts, you will become smarter over time. Eating healthily and resisting sugar may be difficult, but it allows you to get into and stay in shape. Saving money instead of splurging on a new pair of shoes may be difficult, but if properly invested and given enough time, it will make you richer. So, these are the areas where you should really push yourself.
The ones who experience short-term pain but gain in the long run. That is the second reason I try to do something challenging every day. Even though it may feel uncomfortable at the moment, I know that my actions will benefit me in the long run. And it is only by entering the growth zone and pushing myself that I will be able to reap those long-term benefits.
So, why don’t more of us leave our comfort zones if it’s clearly beneficial? That’s because there is, in fact, a third zone. If someone pushes themselves too far outside of their comfort zone, they may pass through the growth zone and enter the danger zone. This is why we are uneasy in the first place. There is such a thing as overextending yourself. After all, overexertion can result in injury. Burnout can occur if you work excessively long hours. And discomfort is a very useful alarm, preventing you from getting hurt, which would likely set you back further.
So, it makes perfect sense why most people stay in their comfort zones. They want to avoid the danger zone at all costs. But unfortunately, a lot of people, when they’re looking to make a positive change in their life, go straight into the danger zone. And this is a very common occurrence when trying to leave the comfort zone. However, failing to stick to a plan isn’t even the worst part. The bigger issue people now have is that because they fail at keeping up with their high expectations, they also feed their belief that it’s entirely impossible for them to change and grow.
As a result, they don’t bother trying to improve themselves in the future. They believe they are failures who should not try again. So, what’s the answer here? How can we make it easier to get out of our comfort zones so that we can operate in the growth zone while avoiding the danger zone? Yes, positive change necessitates stepping outside of our comfort zone. However, nowhere does it state that everything must be completed at once. It is far more effective to approach it gradually in small and manageable increments.
After all, if someone has been completely inactive and wants to start exercising, it doesn’t make sense, to begin with two hours of intense weightlifting five times a week. Their chances of success increase dramatically if they start with something they can actually do. As if you went to the gym for 45 minutes three times a week. Only when they can maintain that way they are able to push further.
Remember, if you can’t commit to a minor change, how can you expect to commit to a major one? Just some food for thought. Another advantage of doing it gradually is that it creates a positive feedback loop. You demonstrate to yourself that you can improve and change by accomplishing what you set out to do. And this proof of progress, no matter how minor, makes you feel great and more confident in your abilities.
This, in turn, fuels the determination to overcome additional challenges further down the road. Essentially, success begins to feed on itself, and you continue to push yourself further outside of your comfort zone. Furthermore, once a positive feedback loop is established in one area, it tends to spread gradually to other areas.
This is the third reason I try to do something challenging every day. When I am able to step outside of my comfort zone, even if only slightly, it initiates this positive feedback loop. Success, like falling dominoes, fuels more success. That said, you should not constantly push yourself outside your comfort zone.