EDITION: August - October 2015

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

By Ruth Osborn
‘Great love and great achievements
all involve great risks’
(The Dalai Lama)
When you’re in your zone of comfort things are familiar, known and certain; stress and risk are minimized and you feel secure. When you step out of that zone of comfort you take a risk because it puts you in an unfamiliar situation. You don’t know what will happen next, and are unsure how you will react. You can experience anxiety or stress because you might not get the outcome that you hoped for… but then again, you just might! By stepping out of your comfort zone you are stepping into the possibility of self development and life enrichment.

As a child you probably took many risks, often oblivious to the consequences. Age and experience teaches us to be cautious, so we avoid risks, but when you stop taking risks your growth and self development stops as well. The next time an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone presents itself rather than dismiss it as too risky ask yourself what might you miss out on by not taking that step? What is the worst that can happen?  
“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.

Often the worst thing that can happen when you try something new is that you might not achieve the desired outcome. The way to overcome this obstacle to your growth is simply to let go of your attachment to the outcome. Go ahead and do whatever it is you want to do, and accept that the outcome will be whatever it will be. Sometimes things work out as you’d like them to, and other times they don’t… such is life. Whatever happens remember that the personal development you will gain from the experience is invaluable.
‘A person who never made a mistake
never tried anything new.’
(Albert Einstein)

Whenever you take a risk it means that you have had enough belief and courage to step out of your comfort zone – so congratulate yourself on trying something different. You will probably learn that it wasn’t as scary as you thought it might be, and the more risks you take, the easier it becomes. With greater awareness you will learn how you react to stressful unknown situations, and to manage your reactions better. You might find yourself easily dealing with situations that were once stressful, and that such situations now form part of your new enlarged comfort zone. It is likely that your confidence will grow; things that once seemed impossible will become possible; your courage to try new things will be greater. With practice you may just learn how to embrace risk, make changes and face fears. Within your expanded comfort zone you will feel more at ease with risk and the unknown.
By regularly stepping out of your comfort zone you will become better equipped to manage and deal with life’s uncertainties. It will open you to opportunities for greater fulfillment, more enriching experiences and a deeper understanding of life. Some of the greatest lessons you can learn come from taking risks, following your dreams and stepping outside your zone of comfort. Embrace not knowing, embrace the adventure, embrace the growth in yourself. Be brave, take risks, do the things that make you afraid, and you’ll realise that they weren’t so scary after all. •