Break out of your comfort zone

Mar 07, 2017

Amy Dawson shares the virtues of breaking out of your comfort zone

When was the last time you did something a little bit different, a little bit off kilter from your usual routine, out of your comfort zone?

I don’t know about you, but I have to confess that I basically do the same thing most days. My alarm clock goes off at the same time, I have one of about three breakfast options, I head out to work, usually do the same things on my lunch breaks, and I have a fairly limited evening and weekend repertoire from exercise to family time to visiting friends. Exciting, it may not be but that’s the point. I’m perfectly content in my comfortable routine.

We all tend to perform well within our comfort zones. This is where everything is nice and steady, predictable, unchanging. Where we’re at our best is apparently just a smidgen outside of that.

Why we should get out of our comfort zone

Doing something outside this comfort zone creates what is apparently called the state of “optimum anxiety”. This means that we feel a little anxious and stressed, have a bit more adrenalin racing around. We’re a tad more observant, responsive, active, creative and productive than we might usually be.

Going back to my first question: the last time you did something even a little out of your ordinary. Maybe you missed your bus stop and ended up in the wrong place, went on a different kind of holiday, started a new hobby? Chances are you noticed more and dare I say it, enjoyed it more and did better at it.

Think of the endless celebrity dine-with-me and dance-with-me shows we’re subjected to. We’re always shocked at how good the boxer is at ballroom, how adept the scientist is at soufflé. They’re doing something totally new and alien to them; they’re concentrating and really trying. They are excelling in the novelty.

We can’t exist like this all the time. Being in this state of constant anxiety, albeit low, is not a good thing. But erring to the wild side can be really positive.

There are a few tips to harnessing your inner rebel.

  1. Do something new: volunteer with a charity, start an evening class, book a holiday to somewhere you have never been, take up a new activity or language – it doesn’t really matter what the change is but slot something into your existing life and soon it will merge into your comfort zone. Try to do this once or twice a year to keep you fresh.
  2. Just say yes: of course it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons but from time to time, don’t. Just say “yes” to that invite to the school reunion, the sports and social club’s weekend outing, the request to join the PTA. There’s probably very little to lose and if you don’t pre-emptively rule it out, you may surprise yourself at how much you enjoy it.
  3. Don’t try to be radical: you need not take on adventure sports…just do little things differently and relish the changes. Change how you commute or the route you take, change your evening routine…enjoy that feeling of the unknown for a while.
  4. Make change your new habit: if you can take on little changes, you will learn the positives of taking risks and hopefully accomplishing something new.

And then…get back to normal

Having said all that, it is important to point out how necessary it is to go back to the comfort zone regularly and exist here most of the time. This is where we find the headspace to process and make sense of our new experiences. Just don’t get too comfortable and stagnant there. It’s very easy to say you can’t take on that new work project or request for help from a friend. Be aware that saying “no” can lead you to at least appear or even become uninterested and inhibit your progression, be it personal, social or professional.

The positive outcomes

You will become more productive, more creative and rounded in your viewpoints and perspectives. Facing new scenarios will inevitably help you see and appreciate other peoples’ perspectives and approaches to problems. The old adage to “face your fears and do it anyway” can take you a long way. You will become braver, more adaptable; dealing with change will become easy for you. Change will be the new norm. Don’t confuse change with chaos and flux – it can be positive in small doses.

Can we help?

Maybe you are reading this and thinking of moving along in your career? It could be that you want to try a new area before committing to changing role, organisation or direction? We offer a wide range of CPD and Specialist Qualifications that might help you. We have CPD courses that can help with your leadership skills, confidence and communication skills and networking amongst many others. Any or all of these can cajole you out of that comfort zone. That’s not to mention our specialist qualifications in key in-demand areas like risk, taxation, strategic finance, corporate finance and IFRS. Give us a call today. We’ll be more than comfortable talking to you!