Cartoon image of a woman leaving comfort zone into growth zone

How to get out of your comfort zone

You may have come across the saying “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” before, but have you really absorbed the truth of it? Most of us get too comfortable in our routines and behavioural patterns – whether that is in our personal lives or professional – and as a result of this, we don’t see a need to step outside of our comfort zones.

Being in the comfort zone isn’t always a negative thing per say, sometimes it’s necessary; it brings familiarity and reliability. However, staying in your comfort zone for too long can pave the way for complacency. People do not always know where their comfort zone begins and ends and they do not know how to step out of it. Staying in your comfort for too long will curb your imagination and curiosity and hinder your opportunities to learn and grow.

We asked our wonderful Yellow Eve community to share their experiences of stepping out of their comfort zones and some life advice about challenging yourself often.

Here’s what they had to say:

Nicky Kendrick, Head of Marketing, Your Employee Wellbeing

Nicky Kendrick

I was about 18 months out of uni when my dream job was advertised. It was over 150 miles away in a city I knew nothing about, filled with people I knew nothing about. All I did know was that I needed that job. I had to get it. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Quite literally. The job was mat cover, but I was willing to give up a permanent, fulfilling role with potential in a very comfortable town surrounded by friends to fulfil my dream. I wouldn’t be telling this story if I didn’t get the job. Of course I did! The most difficult part of it was moving to the new city. The job was great, professionally I made an impact quickly, personally it was more of a challenge. There were moments of real regret. I was flooded by loneliness and craved my friends. But in time it became a new comfort zone. Seven years later, when I was ready to move on I knew I could do it. I had moved my life once, I could do it again. And I did! My advice – if the opportunity of your dreams presents itself grab it with both hands – don’t talk yourself out of it – think logistics later! Mine’s not the most scary move faced by a young person, but the challenges were very real.

Oritseweyinmi Erikowa-Orighoye, Paediatrician, Early Career Researcher. Leeds Beckett University, UK

Oritseweyinmi Erikowa-Orighoye

I would normally have stayed in Paediatrics as I specialised in that. However, the hospital didn’t seem to have it all for me. I had more questions about malnutrition. So I decided to do a PhD. This is my final year of PhD and I keep asking myself, if I had stayed back, what would you be doing? I have learnt quite a number of skills I normally won’t have learnt. Careers are squiggly and one must learn to be open minded. Take every stage as a learning curve. The old skills will help you grow on the new skills.

Leanne Cooper, Empowerment Coach for women, You First Coaching

Leanne Cooper

I spent 10 years doing a job that I did not enjoy. I told myself I stayed put because the money was good, because the hours worked around my kids, because of the security of working for a big company…but the truth is the REAL reason I stuck it out was fear.

The good news is that I overcame that fear. I took the plunge and retrained as a Coach and set up my coaching practice to help others – I am so happy that I did! Don’t do what I did and spend your life doing something that doesn’t fulfil you just because you are scared.

  1. Don’t wait until you feel ready – you will be waiting forever.
  2. Don’t be scared of failing – you will learn from the times when things don’t go the way you intended and can use that learning to help you move forwards.
  3. Manage your internal dialogue – the way you speak to yourself matters, you need to believe in yourself.
  4. Be honest with yourself – are you really too busy to do the thing or are you just not making it a priority/putting it off because you’re scared?
  5. Keep yourself accountable – if you decide to do something make sure you tell someone what you are going to do so you can’t back out of it!
Pardhy Singhania, Lead Business Analyst, Citizens Advice

Pardhy Singhania

As women we have unknown abilities that we only realise once we put ourselves out of comfort zone. I constantly do it in my work space and and it gives a sense of moral boast as well as reflects well in my personal life.

Mandy Tinker, Executive Assistant

Mandy tinker

Earlier this year I was asked to be on a panel for one of the networks that I below to. It is a network I have been part of for a few years now and as with most things over the last year, it has turned to online events which take place monthly. Initially I was daunted at the prospect of being in the spotlight, however, without spending too much thought on it….I said YES! I stayed true to the quote by Richard Branson: ““If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” The end result was a great experience and good feedback. What more could you want!

Ruth Kudzi, CEO, Optimus coach academy

Ruth Kudzi

When I was in my 20s I got an invite for a conference and replied back saying they were missing a trick… before I knew it I was a key note speaker!

Natalie Trice, Author, Coach, Mentor
Natalie Trice

One thing I would say is, why not you? If you see a job you know you could do, find an entrepreneurial opportunity that excites you or a promotion that would make your heart sing, someone has to do it, so why not you? You can wait for the right time or perfection, or you can look at how you can take this forward and own it! Be brave, taking a chance can be so worth it.

Steve Brookes, founder of Expressing Your Authentic Self, NLP Practitioner

Steve Brookes

I know stepping out of your comfort zone can seem hard. I frequently found myself staying in my comfort zone as I doubted my abilities and taking no action was my way of avoiding judgement from others. I also found it easier to gravitate towards anything that would ease my discomfort and provide temporary relief, such as holidays.

I continually reflected on the reasons that led me to that point in my life and what was really holding me back. This allowed me get to a place within myself where I felt enabled to manage my emotions and start to change the way I think and feel and learn from the past to become the person I wanted to be.

My advice would be to take consistent, daily action towards achieving your goal and what really brings you joy in your career and life. Embrace stepping out of your comfort zone as just part of the process. Be kind to yourself and take it step by step. Note, each step does not have to be perfect, learn and adjust as you go, it’s all so absolutely worth it!

Salma Khan, Empowerment Coach 
Salma Khan

Being made redundant quite early on in the pandemic made me think seriously about where I wanted my life to be in 10 years time. I had enjoyed the last 20 years climbing the corporate IT ladder but deep down I yearned for something more. So in August last year I took the plunge and signed up for a coach training programme and I am now a soon to be accredited coach with the ICF and the Sara Davison Coaching Academy. It hasn’t been easy. Putting myself out there and believing that I can help people envisage and achieve a brighter future felt like a huge responsibility. I am now living my passion, have my first few paying clients and I couldn’t be happier. I still have a long way to go in building my practice but I’m learning something new about myself, my skills, my strengths, my weaknesses and my boundaries every day!

Further reading: How to get out of your comfort zone to maximise career success

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