Why Leave the Comfort Zone?

Apr 14, 2016 | Confidence

What’s outside the comfort zone?

Comfort is like a warm blanket – enticing – but beyond it is growth, excitement, confidence and a better brain!

The zone of comfort

How do you feel when faced with trying something new? Whether it’s a new food, a new place or a new activity, sometimes our first reaction is one of fear or resistance – as in, “No thanks, I’m fine.”

It’s understandable. We are mostly creatures of habit. And most people like routine. It gives us a sense of security – hence the “comfort zone.”

But staying in our comfort zones can also stunt our growth and our confidence.

Scaredy Squirrel

One of my favorite stories to read with my daughters is “Scaredy Squirrel.” Scaredy Squirrel has a carefully planned daily routine that involves preparing for disaster and never leaving the nut tree. Every day, he does the same thing, at the same time, in the same place… until one day Scaredy Squirrel accidentally falls from the tree – yikes!

But in the process of falling he discovers that he is not an ordinary squirrel, but a flying squirrel! Very cool. Suddenly he’s exhilarated. Realizing that flying out of the tree was actually fun, Scaredy Squirrel schedules a jump from the tree into his daily routine.

And so a new and improved comfort zone is created!

Why comfort zones are overrated

Comfort zones are like curling up in a cozy blanket on the couch in front of the t.v. Enticing, yes. But good for us? Maybe not so much – at least not all the time.

However, throwing off the blanket and stepping out of our comfort zone is good for us, for several reasons.

Like Scaredy Squirrel, it expands our horizons and makes us feel more alive.

It also grows our confidence.

When you notice strong resistance to something new, then you’ll need some courage to take action past the fear or resistance. But this is is a good thing because this is the type of courageous action that builds confidence.

Doing something new and challenging builds the muscle for real change and growth. And the more challenging the new action, the more meaningful it will be.

Beyond boosting your courage and confidence, taking new action is good for your brain. It capitalizes on that wonderful thing in our brains called neuroplasticity, which is to say that we can actually grow our brains by moving out of your comfort zone!

Neuroscience has shown us that when you do something new – whether that’s solving a new puzzle, learning a new dance, or taking a new way to work, your brain becomes more alert and active, and you build new neural pathways.

Taking new action is like a workout for your brain!

What about you?

So what will you do this week that’s a little out of your comfort zone? Get up earlier than usual, do a different kind of exercise, learn a new skill, do something new at work or in your community…? The options are endless.

Perhaps you’ll discover a new talent, like Scaredy Squirrel did.

Perhaps you’ll publish a comment to this post  😉

And if you really want to expand your horizons, you can challenge yourself to do one thing different each day for the next week.

Have fun!

Photo by Matthew Wiebe at unsplash.com.



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Jen Riggs Blog

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Jennifer is the creator of Pathways to Change, a framework for mindful leadership development that integrates coaching, neuroscience, mindfulness and mind-body principles.

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