The comfort zone gets you nowhere fast—it’s time to step out of it.
The comfort zone, somewhat deceivingly, feels like a fantastic place to be. It’s…easy and cozy. We have no worries when we’re there. Sometimes this is totally fine…but when our comfort zones become more like “permanent safe spaces,” we may not realize that we’re actually stunting our own potential growth. On both a personal and professional level, stepping outside of your comfort zone can have some amazing benefits.
Especially for those who work in education, the day-to-day tasks can become somewhat of a routine. If you’re years-deep into the “routine” of things and well-seasoned in all that you do, that means one important thing: it’s time to switch things up a bit. Not only can this help to make your days more exciting and refreshing, but it can also make you a more innovative and valued staff member.
In order to effectively step outside of your comfort zone, you have to do more than just switch things up. You have to try new things that make you feel like less of a “seasoned pro” and more of a beginner again—things that make you less comfortable. Statistically, making yourself uncomfortable has proven to promote personal development. A Forbes article on this topic noted, "Routines may make you feel at ease and in control, but what a routine really does is dull your sensitivities...if you don't get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life on a daily basis." Do you feel like you tend to tune out the day? If so, we have the perfect remedy.
TREADING NEW TERRITORY PROMOTES GROWTH
If you’ve ever heard Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Less Traveled,” you know that rewarding things can come out of pushing yourself. "Step outside of your comfort zone” is commonly-heard advice across the board, but it’s important to note that this particular advice is scientifically supported. Studies regularly show that when we try new things, experience new situations and do things in new ways, our brain benefits. Check out these inspiring stats:
- Neuron noted that when people taking a test were suddenly provided with new information in between the questions they were already familiar with, it actually enhanced their learning. It even helped them to perform better on the material they had previously seen!
- New tasks that you’ve never done before tend to challenge the brain more, and these challenges are proven to have the biggest benefits to overall mental health.
- The brains of people who regularly expand on what they learn and experience build dense networks of cell connections in a process scientists call “cognitive reserve.”
- Science shows that one of the reasons babies absorb information so rapidly and learn so well is because each experience they come across is new, exciting and a bit uncomfortable.
- When a person experiences discomfort, it actually activates a unique area of their brain that only responds to new experiences.
- According to The Mission, psychologist and author Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo indicated that those who consistently seek out new experiences tend to be both more emotionally resilient and creatively inclined.
WELCOMING UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS
You’re never too experienced or too old to try new things, break out of habits and push the limits of your comfort zone. And the halls of your school are a great place to test the benefits of getting a little uncomfortable. Bebrainfit.com noted that, "brain information travels up to an impressive 268 miles per hour. This is faster than Formula 1 race cars..." Your brain is an amazing machine—and it’s always ready for more.
When you try new things that make you less comfortable, or try things in a new way that you’re less familiar with, there’s one important thing to note: how to manage stress. Mentally, you have to learn to embrace discomfort in order to grow. Inc. notes that the best place for maximum learning and growth is located between your comfort zone and a zone known as your “destructive anxiety.” In moderation, anxiety can actaully improve learning, but being overwhelmed by it (and tapping into destructive anxiety) can have the opposite effect. The goal is a zone that Russian developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky termed the Zone of Proximal Development. This is where you truly want to spend most of your time. It is a location where you regularly use problem solving skills and have new, exciting experiences, all while feeling somewhat at peace with your discomfort, and being able to better manage feelings of anxiety or stress.So how do you find this “golden zone?” We have great news: the more you push yourself out of your comfort zone and experience new things, the less likely you will be to feel anxiety and stress surrounding them. When you make new experiences a regular habit, stepping into a meeting to tackle new issues could start to feel more like an incredible opportunity than something overwhelming and stressful. While you’re at it, working to consistently understand new perspectives can become very beneficial, too. Only you know the best ways for you to break out of tried-and-true habits and where you can find opportunity for growth. No matter how you go about accomplishing it, though, breaking out of your comfort zone and trying new things will bring you incredible successes and benefits.
Lindsey Elias, Marketing
As our Marketing Content Manager, Lindsey is passionate about producing quality content. When not at the office or planning her next Disney getaway, she loves hanging with her husband, family and fur babies and indulging in the two c's: carbs & coffee.