India. Greece. Morocco. Costa Rica. Mexico. Bali.
All these destinations trigger your imagination. How awesome would it be to book a yoga retreat on a whim? You would treat yourself with an unforgettable experience that definitely would push you towards personal growth.
But there’s something preventing that action. It’s a thing known as the comfort zone. That part of you, which is seeking comfort, constantly fights the part that wants to do more and be more. It convinces you there’s not enough time for a different experience. It tells you that you don’t have enough money. It tells you that you should stay committed to your job, family, and current situation. It convinces you that you’re just fine, right where you are.
But you’re not!
Why Is It Not Okay to Stay in the Comfort Zone?
Back in 1908, the Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology published a study that's become the foundation of research on human productivity. It was carried out by researchers Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson, eminent psychologists who proposed the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which discusses the relationship between habit and motivation. They found that stimulation, up to a certain level, improved performance. That level is known as optimal anxiety. When the stimulation surpasses that level, you’re under too much stress and the performance levels fall down.
Before that level, however, you’re in the state of productive discomfort, which is much different from the comfort zone. In this state, you push yourself towards new experiences and you achieve your productivity peaks.
Let’s discuss this through a common example: a student who has trouble to achieve high productivity levels. That’s because they are in the comfort zone, full of friendships, relaxation, parties, and wasting time. They know they have to get out of that state, take more challenging courses and become more active in class discussions. Still, they find several excuses to procrastinate. They still manage to achieve some goals, mainly because they rely on cheap writing services to complete challenging projects.
But this student takes no risks and makes zero extra effort to become something more. If they manage to graduate, they choose a career path that would keep them in the comfort zone forever. They are not aimed at major achievements, although they dream of becoming something more.
This example was not meant to offend anyone. We’re just trying to paint a picture of the life of someone who doesn't react to stimuli and doesn’t set challenging goals for themselves. You’re not that person. You don’t want to be that person. You’re just trapped in this zone of comfort, and you can definitely find ways to get out of it.
Ways to Exit the Comfort Zone
Learn New Skills
You know how to do something and you’re doing it pretty well. This may be your career, the type of courses you pick at college, or the type of exercise you do. It’s great to stay focused on something you’re good at, but it’s not great when that focus prevents you from trying new things.
Why not sign up for training that would expand your career prospects? Why not take a course from another area of study that you haven’t explored yet? Why not sign up for a challenging type of exercise that pushes your body and mind to their limits?
Set Big Challenges
According to a research study carried out by researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas, simply getting out and doing something is not enough to get you out of the comfort zone. This is what the lead researcher, Denise Park, said: “It is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.”
So strive for big challenges. They help you make huge leaps forward.
Recognize Discomfort as an Opportunity
Brené Brown, the author of The Gifts of Imperfection, sheds some new light onto the comfort zone issue. In an interview for The New York Times, this is what she said: “When we get into times of social, political or financial instability, our comfort zones get smaller. The more afraid we are, the more impenetrable our comfort zones buffers become.”
When we feel vulnerable, we want to avoid challenges, and that’s exactly what we should not do. When your life brings you on an unwanted path, it means there’s a lesson for you to learn. You could remain forever in that small comfort zone, or you could make a change. It’s up to you.
If you just went or you’re still going through a very difficult time, it’s important to give yourself some space for recovery. But the stage of mourn shouldn’t last forever. Take the discomfort as an opportunity to make a big change in your life.
Understand the Cost of Staying Comfortable
Let’s say that you’re so comfortable in your usual setting and the usual vacations you take that you never decide to go on that yoga retreat you’ve been dreaming about. No one wants to take the yoga retreat with you, so that would mean leaving alone. It would also mean spending time away from that comfortable life you’ve created, and you don’t know how to stay away from the people you depend on.
That’s okay. You won’t die from staying in that zone of comfort. But you will miss out on adventures and experiences. You’ll miss out on life!
If you don’t push yourself beyond the box, it will keep getting smaller and smaller. At one point or another, you’ll realize your life hasn’t been as fulfilling as it could’ve been. That’s the price you pay for staying comfortable.
As people often say, they are more disappointed by the things they didn’t do than by the things they do. It’s not just a pretty quote. It’s the sad reality of living a shallow life.
Take Small Steps to Recalibrate Your Daily Life
A huge change is too scary? No worries! No one is forcing you to do anything you don’t want. If you’re not ready for big challenges, you can start making small changes in your life.
Take a different route to work today. Go to a restaurant you’ve never visited and order something you’ve never tried before. Try going vegan for a day or a week. Get a cool haircut and be brave about it!
Every single step you take and every decision you make has the potential to change your perspective. Start changing the small things, and you’ll realize that the place beyond the comfort zone is more fun than you’ve ever imagined.
Whoa, that was some tough love, wasn’t it? Well, a push is sometimes necessary. It’s best when that push comes from the inside, so you’ll drive yourself towards new destinations. Regardless of whether it’s literally, through actual travel, or if it’s metaphorically, new destinations are essential for improving yourself and growing.
Take that step! Make that difference! You’re the one who will benefit from it, and everyone else around you will feel the positive vibes too.
Want to start taking some steps towards exiting your comfort zone? How about a yoga retreat in a beautiful and far removed place? These yoga retreats in Bali are particularly spectacular!