Five Keys To Stepping Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”  Anonymous

Let’s face it, we all want to be comfortable in life. At times factors such as managing change, reaching new levels of performance, establishing stretch goals can be difficult if not exhausting. You want to feel that you’ve arrived at a special place in life and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Over time you fall into the comfort zone. Life can be repetitive and boring. You know what to expect at every turn. This leads to complacency and for some of us you can easily fall into a rut. You’ve heard the old adage time and time again, “we are all creatures of habit”. There’s a lot of comfort in knowing your routines and what’s around the corner. Sometimes these repetitive routines can be like boundaries that hold us back and keep us inward thus keeping us from experiencing new things. When you have a set of predetermined activities and approaches that become second nature you are then able to minimize stress and risk. The comfort zone is a state of mental security that provides regular happiness and low anxiety. The problem is that this state if prolonged will keep you from feeling challenged and experiencing new things.

I recall growing up as a “military brat”, and moving eight times. It seemed as soon as I was getting comfortable with my environment, the school, friends, surroundings, etc., it was time to move again. This carried into my adult life with an additional seven corporate moves. I’m not knocking a stable environment and those who have lifelong childhood friends and know the neighborhood grocer. But, each time I moved I had to adjust to a different environment, a new culture, and establish new relationships. This was to be the foundation of dealing with change, taking new risks, and understanding fundamentally, that change won’t kill you, it might even be good for you. I try to treat each move as a new adventure and as an opportunity to meet new people and explore a new environment.

One fundamental fact about venturing into the unknown and trying new things as a financial advisor is the fear associated with reaching new heights of performance. You’ve been successful, a great family provider, you serve on a couple of non-profit boards, and maybe coach the kid’s sports team in your spare time. In the winter you go skiing and during the summer you visit the lake or the beach. You’ve grown accustomed to this life and the pattern and on the surface it feels pretty good. However, something is missing. You know what it is, you could be doing more or doing better. However, stepping outside your comfort zone seems risky, scary, and downright uncomfortable. You must ask yourself a fundamental question and be honest with yourself. What’s the one or two biggest impediments to breaking out of your comfort zone? If you answered me, me, and me, well then you are well on your way to breaking –out of your comfort zone. It’s not your boss, your firm, family, or resources that are holding you back!

Our obsession with comfort can haunt us and keep us from realizing our full potential not to mention some new and exciting adventures we might miss out on. Be careful of tried and true bench marks or comparisons. Expressions like, “I’m outperforming everyone in my office”; “I’m number one in my district”; or, “I’m highly ranked in my class”; and “I’m making more than I ever have before”. Sure, be proud of your accomplishments and achievements, however, set benchmarks that stretch you beyond your comfort zone.

When we get comfortable in the “zone” it is like a gravitational pull that moves us toward what is fun and easy, rather than towards what is difficult challenging and goal achieving. Remember the teacher, the coach, your parent, or maybe that drill instructor that pushed you beyond your boundaries and so called limitations? It wasn’t easy going through it, however, you succeeded and went on to higher levels of performance. You had to first let go of the chains that bound you. For the most part these chains were mental. Once you break through you feel elation and accomplishment. That’s a feeling that you have to play back in your mind from time to time. It gives us strength.

It’s not all about success; it’s about the journey and sometimes there are set backs along the way. There are no guarantees and sometimes we get derailed. The thrill comes when we get back up and try again and later overcome the obstacles that hinder our success.

Let’s recall Bethany Hamilton a surfer at 13, she lost her arm and nearly lost her life in a vicious shark attack. One month later she was back on her surfboard with a determined spirit and positive attitude. Two years later she won first place in the Explorer Women’s Division of the NSSA National Championships.

How about another familiar name, Dr. Seuss, who wrote 46 books that sold over 200 million copies. His first book (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street) was reportedly rejected by 28 publishers before being published. His persistence in the face of rejection paid off. Big time.

One of my favorite stories about a person who literally ran out of his comfort zone is Roger Banister. People had been trying to break the four minute mile since the time of ancient Greece. Everyone believed that it was physiologically impossible for a human to run a mile in four minutes. Experts said the bone structure was inadequate and that lung capacity wouldn’t allow it. Soon after Bannister broke the four minute mile in 1954, 37 other runners broke the four minute barrier. The following year 300 runners broke the four minute mile barrier.

The theme in the above examples reveal true human break-through in attitude. There are many examples of people doing extraordinary things to overcome adversity and step outside their comfort zones. You can get a little inspiration by reading stories about human potential to break-through life’s challenges from time to time.



There are some steps or keys you can use to break-out of your comfort zone despite the psychological and physical discomfort you might face in the very beginning of your transformation.

  1. You have to come to grips with your fears or inhibitors that hold you back. Write them down and then ask yourself, “What are the positive outcomes if I make the change”? Don’t lead with the negative by asking, “What’s the worse thing(s) that can happen to me?
  2. Remind yourself of your core values and dedication to helping others reach their dreams and goals. You have to believe that when you wake up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror, you are trying to do good for others.
  3. It’s okay to think about yourself and your family’s quality of life. You can create balance for a win/ win outcome.
  4. Don’t forget how far you’ve come. Recall those situations when you stepped out of your comfort zone and those positive outcomes. Take some solace that you have broken through previously.
  5. Don’t go it alone. Get a coach, find mentors, and establish your personal advisory board. Sometimes a third party can help you through some of the challenges you might be facing. Seek feedback from people you can trust.

It takes tenacity to embark upon a personal change strategy or reinvention as some say. The first has to do with attitude. A positive attitude will allow you to face the challenges of everyday life.  It’s your state of mind and your outlook and view on things. The second component to your change strategy is your belief in yourself and what you’re doing. It’s not arrogance its confidence. The third component is commitment. When you are committed to something, you make no excuses, the debate is over, and there is no more lengthy analysis, just action.

Today, change the words from, “I’m not comfortable doing that” to “my life experiences have prepared me to accept new and exciting challenges.”

Let a Supernova consultant help you lead change and improve your productivity.