Why You Should Go Out of Your Comfort Zone

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Manifest" by Roxie Nafousi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is it important to push yourself to go out of your comfort zone? How does doing things that feel uncomfortable get you closer to your goals?

You’ll never achieve great things in life if you don’t step out of your comfort zone. According to self-development coach Roxie Nafousi, you should force yourself to step outside of your comfort zone so you get familiar with the feeling of discomfort.

Here’s why you should push yourself to step out of your comfort zone and some tips to help you make the most out of it.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Nafousi explains that changing your behavior to make progress toward your goals can be difficult because you’re often forced to do new or challenging things that make you uncomfortable. To make this process easier, she recommends regularly stepping out of your comfort zone. You’ll realize that you’re more capable than you think and that hard, scary tasks aren’t actually as hard and scary as you thought.

(Shortform note: In The Power of Discipline, Daniel Walter agrees that stepping out of your comfort zone and getting familiar with discomfort is necessary to make progress toward your goals. He adds that humans have a natural tendency to resist this process for three specific reasons: 1) We’re afraid that trying something new will cause us to lose something valuable that we already have; 2) We’re afraid of failing and regretting our decision to change; and 3) The longer we experience something, the more comfortable and enjoyable it becomes and the less willing we are to give it up.)

Nafousi provides a few recommendations for making the most of your experience outside your comfort zone:

1. Set intentions. When you’re preparing to do something uncomfortable, be clear on why you’re doing it. This will keep you focused and help you push through the discomfort of the experience.

2. Expose your excuses. When you’re afraid to do something, your mind will always provide excuses to justify not doing it. When these excuses pop into your head, immediately debunk them by coming up with reasons and ways to do the task.

3. Persevere through barriers. You’ll always face obstacles when you try something new—this is an inevitable part of the process. If you allow these barriers to stop you, you’re simply using them as an excuse to give up. Pushing through will help you build your self-worth, self-confidence, and resilience in difficult situations.

4. Jump in headfirst. When you’re about to go out of your comfort zone, you’ll often experience a flood of limiting beliefs that tell you you’re not good enough and encourage you to give up. Rather than letting these thoughts paralyze you, take a brief moment to collect yourself and then take action. For example, if you’re about to raise your hand in class but get nervous, take a deep breath and do it anyway.

How to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Nafousi’s recommendations aim to prepare you to step out of your comfort zone with a positive mindset. Experts reiterate many of her points, but they add a few additional recommendations that will help you feel fully prepared to step out of your comfort zone and execute the process correctly. By using these tips in combination with Nafousi’s, you can avoid being overwhelmed or stricken with fear and can make the most of the experience.

1) Before taking action, take a moment to identify exactly what’s inside and outside of your comfort zone.  This will ensure that you’re doing things that actually make you uncomfortable and help you make progress toward your goals, not just things that are unfamiliar but comfortable.

2) Set SMART goals for your experience. While Nafousi recommends setting general intentions for your experience, experts say that using the SMART goal system is an especially effective method to ensure you get the most from it. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. This goal-setting system is highly effective because its specificity allows you to track your progress and clearly identify when you’ve reached your objective.

3) Take small steps at first. Taking small steps will make it easier to get started and jump in headfirst because you’ll feel more comfortable and less fearful than you would if you tried to take on a huge challenge all at once. Starting small will also gradually build your confidence and tolerance for discomfort, making it easier for you to persevere through barriers.

4) Cultivate a positive mindset—have compassion for yourself, frame challenges as opportunities, set ambitious goals, see failures as lessons, and challenge your underlying negative beliefs. Following these steps prevents negativity and uncertainty from halting your progress. As such, this tip will help you expose your excuses and push through barriers by giving you a positive, accurate, and motivated perspective.
Why You Should Go Out of Your Comfort Zone

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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