How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone the Right Way

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A few weeks ago I found a YouTube video that taught me that it’s not a good idea to always be out of your comfort zone. That surprised me, as have the other things I’ve learned about the comfort zone since. That’s why today I’m diving into how to get out of your comfort zone the right way.

To get out of your comfort zone set goals for pushing yourself beyond your limits, take small steps, and plan to stay disciplined when you’re afraid or tired. However, you must go back into your comfort zone after a time outside of it because like working out a muscle, your comfort zone expands when you rest.

With these steps, you’ll have purpose, a plan, and a way forward when setbacks come. And most of all, a way to take advantage of the most important part of it all—rest.

Let’s dive right in!

1. Don’t Try to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone — Go Back to It Regularly

I’ve always enjoyed math. In high school, it was one of my favorite classes. But no matter how hard I tried, year after year, there was always at least one concept that didn’t quite click for me.

That was, until the next school year when somehow it made sense. 

For a long time, I didn’t recognize that this was happening. Once I did, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Then I realized that the key to the growth I’d experienced was rest.

During the summer break, I’d take time away from math and my brain was organizing and making sense of everything I had been studying. So when I went back to use those hard concepts for the next level of math, they made sense to me. 

Your comfort zone works the same way. If you are constantly trying to live outside of it, you’ll burn out and never really grow. Same as if I had tried to keep doing math all year long without any breaks.

When you intentionally leave your comfort zone for a set amount of time then go back to it for a short time, you’ll allow your brain and body time to recover and absorb everything you’ve gained while outside your comfort zone. That’s when you’ll truly grow.

So whether you’re trying to start a business, run a marathon, get married, or something else, spend time outside of your comfort zone then take a break. Rest daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly for hours, days, a week, and even a month at a time as needed.

Make sure to be extra cautious about leaving your comfort zone when you’re going through a hard time, are burnt out, or have just failed.

2. Take Baby Steps When You First Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

I like to think of my goals like a fruit tree. If a young peach tree tries to carry the weight of a lot of fruit, the branches will crack and break under the weight. Only when the tree is old enough can it support the load of a large amount of fruit.

In the same way, when your goals are “young” or new, they can’t support much “weight” of you getting out of your comfort zone. So you need to take baby steps so you don’t break your branches. 

Take your time, and soon your ability to get out of your comfort zone and reach your goals will grow as strong as a massive tree.

I saw how this works and the consequences of not following it when I began running a few years ago. Knowing I should start small, I began by running only a few miles at a time. 

After a couple of months, I ran my first 5k.

Once it became easy to run three miles at a time, I trained for six. 

Eventually, I signed up for a half marathon. It went so well that I ran a second one two months later.

The next step was a full marathon, and it only made sense to sign up for one, so I did. As it got closer to race day, however, I realized that I had put too much pressure on myself too soon. 

I knew I wasn’t fully ready, but I decided to give it a try anyway. 

At mile 13 I started to feel my leg stiffen up and by mile 17 I was limping in pain from IT band syndrome. I hobbled across the finish line a miserable hour later than I had hoped I would. 

If I had just taken my time, slowed down, and deferred my entry to the next year, I would have been able to take smaller steps to this bigger goal and likely would have done much better than I did.

No matter how you want to get out of your comfort zone, start small. You might begin by exercising for just 10 minutes a day rather than the 30 you want to. Or talking with just one new person per day instead of 5. 

The point is to not go immediately to where you want to go outside of your comfort zone but to gradually go there and then go back to your comfort zone. 

It’s the only way to maintain consistency, which is the true secret of successfully expanding your comfort zone.

3. Have a Plan for Why You Want to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Another failure of my marathon experience was not having a plan. I did it because it made sense that after a couple of half marathons, I should do a full without thinking about where I really was. 

And how much I probably needed to go back to my comfort zone to rest.

This is the problem with our outlook a lot of the time when it comes to personal growth by leaving the comfort zone. 

We see something amazing somebody is doing that we’d like to accomplish or become, whether in person or on the internet, and that very day, without any plan, we just start to try acting more like we want to.

Only to give up a day later.

But if we would set clear goals, make plans to achieve them that involve getting out of our comfort zone, act on that plan, and track our efforts, we’d be miles ahead of everybody else. And of where we’d be without these steps.

What you should be doing when you see something that inspires you is writing it on a note on your phone as something you might want to accomplish. 

Compile a list and spend some time thinking about how and where you want to grow the most. Then, set goals. I recommend dividing your goals into these four areas of life to start.

Next, make a plan for how you’re going to get out of your comfort zone to achieve that goal. What action steps will you take each day? How and when will you go back into your comfort zone to rest? What end result do you want to achieve? 

Once you have the plan, start acting on it. Take a personal growth challenge or use a Ulysses Contract to help you stay consistent. 

Track your goals and each week check in with yourself to see how you’re doing. Adjust your plan to make sure that you’re not straying too far out of your comfort zone. 

Remember, set, plan, act, track. That’s all it takes. With this system, you’ll be able to consistently get out of your comfort zone and grow like never before.

Let’s Wrap This Up

To review what we’ve learned, here’s how to get out of your comfort zone:

  1. Go back to your comfort zone regularly so your mind and body can grow.
  2. Start small when you first leave your comfort zone to not overwhelm yourself. 
  3. Have a plan for how you’ll get out of your comfort zone and why so that you can stay consistent.

Start today by figuring out how and where you want to grow the most. Then set goals in that area and start getting out of your comfort zone and into the growth zone.