When you hear the term “comfort zone” what comes to mind? Your favorite pair of bedroom slippers, your cozy chair where you love to curl up with a book on a rainy afternoon, the old robe you wear when you are home alone? Not necessarily. When we speak of our comfort zone, we are not referring to physical things but to a psychological and emotional state of familiar routines and habits where you feel safe, unthreatened, comfortable.
Even though you may feel comfortable in your comfort zone, the physical or emotional reality may be anything but. For a Biblical example, let’s look at the Israelites. They were in slavery in Egypt for four hundred years. Every year, the Egyptians made their work more difficult. The Israelites cried out to God, and He sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt. But guess what happened? They didn’t want to go. When Moses finally got them to leave, they rebelled against him and gave a lot of trouble.
As a secular example, think of a woman who stays in an abusive relationship. Friends, co-workers, relatives beg her to leave, but she stays. As the abuses grow, the woman thinks of leaving but still can’t bring herself to do it. Why? In both examples, the situation is familiar. If they ever leave, there is no telling what lies on the other side. So they stay. They make lame excuses to justify staying in their comfort zone.
You may not belong to either of these groups. Nobody is keeping you in slavery—not in the type mentioned above anyway—and you are not in an abusive relationship. Still, your job, the place where you live, the same old ways of doing things may be your comfort zone. And they may be limiting you.
You would love to get out of your comfort zone but either don’t know how, or are too scared to take a chance.
Here are 5 things you can do to help you step out of your comfort zone:
- Make the decision to step out. You may speak to someone, write it in your journal, get information.
- Start small. Let’s say you want to change your eating habits. Start by making small changes, like adding a vegetable to your dinner, substituting water for juice at one meal etc.
- Look back to the past. You did not get where you are by accident. You took certain steps to get there. Looking back at the past will remind you of your strengths. Now see how you can build on those strengths to move forward.
- Make SMART goals. The woman wanting to get out of the abusive relationship must be Specific about what she wants to do. She may have to save money in order to leave. Her goals must be Measurable. How much will she save? They must be Achievable. How will she do that? Will she take an extra job? They must be Relevant, e.g. paying money on a new apartment; they must be Time-bound. Leave by so-and-so month.
- Reward yourself for accomplishing the above steps. Celebrate with a friend and write it in your journal.
Your comfort zone can be very comforting, safe and stress-free; it can also be confining, limiting, and in some cases dangerous. If you are beginning to feel imprisoned in your comfort zone, it might be time to use the tips outlined above to step out. You may experience some anxiety at first, but that’s okay. Keep following the steps until you climb out of your comfort zone and into a new, free and exciting life.