Comfort Zone

How do I get out of my comfort zone?

Getting stuck and procrastinating

Have you ever had a goal and found it challenging to get started and take that first inspired action step?  Perhaps it has been a vision of weight loss, money, a career change or even a business goal.  The good news is that you have been visualizing desired growth and change.  The reason people get stuck and procrastinate is typically due to the lack of skill, knowledge, limiting beliefs, and their current self-image doesn’t match the goal achievement.  This is very common, and most people prefer to remain in their comfort zone to conserve energy and play it safe.  In this post, I will share content that I’m repurposing from Tony Robbins that answers the question, how do I get out of my comfort zone?

Tips for leaving your comfort zone and accelerating growth and productivity

The human brain is powerful. It allows us to build rocket ships, explore physics and overcome unimaginable challenges.  Yet, it also craves comfort.  In many ways, the brain is a creature of habit. It creates neural pathways that it refers back to whenever it needs to make a decision.  These pathways become patterns in our thoughts and behaviours.  That’s why it seems like we get stuck in a rut sometimes.  If you feel like your life is on a loop, you may need to leave your comfort zone.

What is the comfort zone?

The comfort zone is a psychological state in which individuals feel safe. It fulfills our need for certainty, one of the most powerful Six Human Needs.  When we’re in our comfort zone, we know what to expect and we know how to react.  We feel that we have some control over the situation.  All of our immediate needs are filled, and we feel at peace.

When we leave the comfort zone, we’re no longer in a familiar and controllable situation. The brain hasn’t created the pathways it needs to know how to react – and we may feel anxiety and fear.  Yet learning to leave your comfort zone is essential.

Why leave the comfort zone?

Living life in your comfort zone has obvious benefits: low stress reduced anxiety, and general feelings of well-being.  But it can also make you feel like you’re in a holding pattern.  That’s because uncertainty and growth are also human needs. It’s a paradox: Too much certainty, and we won’t fulfill our need for growth and new experiences.  But too much uncertainty can lead to anxiety and lack of productivity.

The ability to move out of your comfort zone in regular, positive ways allows you to strike the right balance between certainty and uncertainty.  Pushing your boundaries can make you more productive, more adaptable and more creative.  As you push your personal boundaries, you train your brain to adapt to new situations and create new neural pathways that make you a better problem-solver, decision-maker and leader.  You truly become unstoppable.

How to leave your comfort zone

To leave the comfort zone, you must learn how to control the natural fear and anxiety you will feel when trying new things. It starts with getting in touch with your emotions and transforming your mindset.

Find your baseline

To move out of your comfort zone, you must determine your risk tolerance.  Most people think they’re more risk-tolerant than they actually are – and many people don’t actually know their risk tolerance because they’ve never been faced with an extreme situation in which it’s been tested.  To find your baseline, determine your driving force.  If your number one human need is certainty or connection, you may need to leave your comfort zone more than others.

Master your emotions

Those who can easily leave comfort zones may have more emotional mastery than those who stay stuck in routines. This doesn’t mean that they repress their emotions – in fact, they do the exact opposite. They acknowledge that their emotions are there to guide them. They feel their feelings fully and ask themselves, “What is this emotion really telling me?” When you leave your comfort zone, anxiety is normal. It’s telling you that you feel vulnerable. Acknowledge it, then move past it.

Growth vs Fixed mindset

Develop a growth mindset

Growth is one of the most essential human needs: If you’re not growing, you’re dying.  The most successful people in the world have a deep need for growth that pushes them to leave the comfort zone in search of new things.  This is called having a growth mindset – the belief that humans can improve their skills. In contrast, people with a fixed mindset don’t believe they can improve themselves and may not bother trying.  When you develop a growth mindset, you’ll unlock your inner power.

Start small

You don’t need to go big immediately.  Start small: Say “hi” to a coworker you’ve never said hi to before.  Make a quick company announcement.  Take a different route to work.  Try a new restaurant.  Begin to create new habits that turn your ability to leave your comfort zone into something that feels natural and becomes a part of your daily routine.

Find like-minded people

If you want to leave your comfort zone, you must. Surround yourself with the right people.  People with a growth mindset. People who challenge themselves to be better and do better on a daily basis.  People who will celebrate your accomplishments and help you learn from your failures.  This could be a mentor, a results coach or a group of supportive friends.  When you learn to leverage the power of proximity, anything is possible.

Accept failure – and find the lesson.

Fear of failure is one of the most common fears that hold us back from achieving excellence.  When you look at the best athletes, business people and actors, you will find they have one thing in common: they have all failed spectacularly at some point in their lives.  The difference is that they don’t let failure hold them back.  They know that in every failure, there is a lesson – but you must move out of your comfort zone in order to find it.

If you enjoy reading posts like this and are determined to make changes in your life, I invite you to subscribe to my reader’s list and access the 3 Pillars to upgrade your health.

15 thoughts on “How do I get out of my comfort zone?”

  1. This is an excellent post on progressing beyond one’s own comfort zone, especially since we have been living in a protective shell the last twelve months. I worked in jobs that had deadlines, so I always got an automated kick in the pants when the deadline approached. But no deadline? Forget it. I’d put off the work until the last minute where there was suddenly no room for mistakes. Like your illustration and article points out– it’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, or at best get frozen in the fear zone. The learning zone is always productive for me, but making it to the growth zone is a challenge. Procrastination kills progress, and like you said, fear of failure will cause us to freeze up, but your most important point is accepting failure and finding the lessons within. Thank you for the excellent article.

  2. This is an astounding post on advancing past one’s own usual range of familiarity, particularly since we have been living in a defensive shell the most recent year. I worked in positions with cutoff times, so I generally got a robotized kick in the jeans when the cutoff time drew closer. Yet, no cutoff time? Disregard it. I’d put off the work until extremely late where there was abruptly no space for botches. Like your outline and article brings up, it’s not difficult to remain in your usual range of familiarity or, best case scenario, get frozen in the dread zone. The learning zone is consistently useful for me, yet making it to the development zone is a test. Hesitation murders progress, and like you said, dread of disappointment will make us freeze up, yet your most significant point is tolerating disappointment and discovering the exercises inside. Much obliged to you for the great article.

  3. Hey Michael, love the post!

    I’ve read a bit into growth mindsets before but you’ve added a lot of depth and detail I didn’t know I was missing!

    The concept of the “Six Human Needs” is really interesting to me, do you have any content that delves into this a bit deeper?


    1. I appreciate your comments, Meg.   Currently, I don’t have further content on the 6 Human needs and it is definitely a topic I will include in the future.   In addition to Growth, they are 1 Certainty, 2 Uncertainty/Variety, 3 Significance, 4. Connection/Love, 5. Contribution    

  4. Hi Michael,

    People also get stuck because of fear. The question that crosses most people’s minds is, what if I fail? – Or, failure is not really a failure. It is a step to success. As a result, people will prefer to entertain their comfort zone because they do not accept failure.

    To be honest, I have enjoyed reading your article. You have offered us nice tips and keep the good work up.

    Thank you.

  5. You are so right, us humans are creatures of habit and therefore find it hard to leave the protective cocoons that we live in. I have a fear of the unknown, which often means that I don’t venture off to do things on my own, I would rather let someone else take the lead and suggest something that I then do with them.

    But I do want to get out of my comfort zone and do different things, as I also do enjoy a challenge. Do you have additional material on how to overcome fear of the unknown? 

    1. Hi LineCowley.   Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

      Your fear of the unknown is completely normal because our brain’s highest

      priority is to protect us and keep us safe.   Take a few minutes to watch the following Youtube video

      from on Fear.   Anytime we want to make change in our life we must be prepared to break through a

      terror barrier towards growth.  Enjoy. 

  6. Joseph Stasaitis

    This information is so important and I like how you presented the progression of movement out of the comfort zone. Your images help with the understanding as well as creating a viable path to take. I agree that finding your baseline is extremely important. Breaking old habits that keep us in a repetitive pattern is necessary and will occur as we emerge from our comfort zones one step at a time. Dealing with resistance along the way will only increase our confidence and inner strength. You have provided many important concepts as well as ways to proceed. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded folks is certainly one of those ways.

    1. Hi Joseph.  Thanks for sharing your comments.   Yes its so important for us to break through fear barriers in order to change, grow and get what we really want.  As Joseph Campbell once said “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”.   Be well.  

  7. Thanks for your post. I find fear of failure often drives me to stay in my comfort zone. Is there an easy way to get past fear of failure?

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been limiting ourselves from going forward. Any suggestions on how to put ourselves out there again?

    1. Thanks for your comments Carolyn.  The key is becoming aware of the fear in the moment that you are thinking of doing a task outside of your comfort zone (big or small).   Understand is Fear due to a lack of skill or knowledge?  Is it fear of being judged or criticized?   Or is there a real threat of danger?  Awareness is the key and Fear should not be a signal to stop.  If there is something you really want to do and have been holding yourself back, take several deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth to calm the sympathetic nervous system and push through to take action.   With repetition you will cross over from your comfort zone and crash through the terror barrier that’s been holding you back.

  8. Great site and great content. I support this idea, all the way. Comfort zone is really toxic, and you must realize it before it’s too late. I believe, comfort zone and fixed mindset is like smoking. It kills a person slowly. Just like you have to quit smoking, you have to quit living in your comfort zone!

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