Why is it so important we step outside our comfort zones?


Being in our comfort zone is well, comfortable. It’s a place where your activities fit a routine that minimizes stress and risk. So it’s tempting to stay there, especially if it’s resulting in a steady and consistent performance. But what if stepping out creates the perfect opportunity to improve your performance, to feel proud of yourself and to feel the buzz of achievement? But taking that first step out goes against our hardwiring to constantly seek comfort and security.

We’re not inherently lazy, we are just still living with a primitive brain that is constantly telling us to stay safe, rest and eat, just in case there is a famine or tiger round the next corner.

So how do we go against this when we live in a world of convenience, comfort and an abundance of food? We have to choose to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have to choose to reject convenience, and we have to choose to accept challenge. Starting small is the key. Accept small challenges to your comfort zone, and you will grow in confidence to start taking bigger steps. Your resilience will grow and you will feel stronger mentally and physically, and more empowered each time. You are way stronger than you think you are. The only limit to your abilities is your mind. You really can train your brain.

Being slightly uncomfortable either by choice or not can push us to achieve goals we never thought we were capable of. But it’s important that we don’t challenge ourselves all the time. We need to find a balance where we are not stagnating and feeling unmotivated, but not so overwhelmed and stressed we’re reaching burn out. It’s good to step out of the comfort zone, but it’s also good to go back in.

Understanding what motivates you is a good place to start. Do you want to try something new for your self-development (intrinsic reasons) or for someone or something else (extrinsic reasons). On the whole wanting to achieve for your own health, performance or goals is more satisfying and sustainable, whereas if you are trying to achieve for the praise or recognition of another, it may be harder to sustain and ultimately frustrating.

Here are some great intrinsic
reasons to take the first step:
• Taking risks is what helps us grow
• You will develop resilience, confidence and mental strength
• Challenging yourself can help you perform at your peak
• Trying new things can make you more creative
• Learning new and demanding skills slows the aging process
• You might discover something you love
• You will learn that failure is rare, because the most common outcomes are success, learning and growth

As I embark on my 8th humanitarian trip to Kenya, I will once again be pushing out the boundaries of my comfort zone. There are always surprises and challenges along the way, and the whole team volunteers to choose discomfort and stress in order to help others and develop both personally and professionally.

We will be working with the charity, Divinity Foundation, providing education and treatment for women and children living in extreme poverty, and especially for those affected by FGM (female genital mutilation).

We provide our time and skills for free, and have to self-fund our trip. If you would like to support my work in Kenya, I really would be so grateful for any help you feel able to give. Please go to my Crowd Funding page here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/humanitarianosteopaths
Thank you so much

What will you do to stretch the borders of your comfort zone?
Take that first step, one is better than none, and who knows maybe you will discover something you love.

Emma Wightman – Osteopath
Stockbridge Osteopathic Practice