How to Escape Your Comfort Zone for GOOD!
All images are by the beautiful Mikayla Christiansen
Let’s talk about comfort zones.
They’re different for every person. They change with culture, upbringing, beliefs, lifestyles, and – get this – circumstances. Extroverted people will have different areas of comfort than introverted people. Musicians will (probably) have different comfort zones than mathematicians. (I just say this because I’m a musician, and very much not a mathematician.) Comfort zones aren’t all bad until they start controlling your life. YOU have to be the BOSS of your COMFORT ZONE! It is okay to have times where you just need to curl up on the couch with your favorite blanket, a cup of coffee, and watch a childhood favorite movie or talk on the phone with someone. This is all part of self-care. But you cannot let your fear of leaving your comfort zone hold you back from purposeful, fulfilling, and all-around amazing opportunities. Being controlled by your comfort zone can stunt personal growth, hold you back in your relationships with others, and make you feel downright miserable!
Allow me to share my journey from comfort-zone clinging to living with boldness.
There are big changes headed my way, and they are taking me thousands of miles OUTSIDE of my comfort zone! Even though that area has grown over the past couple of years, these changes are taking it to a whole new level.I’m moving 3,814 miles across the Atlantic ocean, to a little island called the United Kingdom. Or, more specifically, a town just outside of Birmingham, the second-largest city in England. I will be serving a church in discipling relationships, youth and children’s work, worship, small groups, outreach and practical ministry. I will be working to combat the loneliness, identity crises, and self-destructive habits that the young people in the community suffer from. This is a big, scary, wild transition for someone who is only going on nineteen years on this earth. “So why is this hick-town homeschooler literally flying out of her comfort zone?” Because I have found boldness in my purpose, and I am following it all the way there!
Finding this boldness takes time, effort, and stillness. It will take varying amounts of these things for different people, so I urge you: do not compare your journey to boldness with someone else’s. This will either pump up your pride or drag you down in discouragement. Your journey will be beautiful and unique. My journey to boldness started with some very simple steps that all led to this conclusion of moving to England.
1) Serving Humbly
Humility is quite possibly the most important step in leaving a comfort zone behind. If you think about it, a comfort zone is a very “me mentality.” Why else would I want to stay within my comfort zone, if not to make myself comfortable and keep myself safe? For my personality, the easiest way to lose the “me mentality” is through serving others.
There are tons of wonderful ways to serve others. I’ll give you a quick list to get started. Non-profit organizations: The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Make A Wish Foundation, your local food pantry, benefits held at schools, churches, and university marathons held for a cause. Each of these will have some way for you to physically get out there and serve. Whether it’s packing shoeboxes full of goodies for children in third-world countries, or serving meals to those less fortunate, you’ll be benefitting more than just yourself.
There are so many people in the community who are in need. Assemble and deliver care packages to public servants in your community – firefighters, nurses, police officers, sanitation workers, and teachers. Everyone could use a little extra sunshine in their life, right? My go-to for these care packages almost always include cookies, coffee, and a card. Building relationships and becoming more personal with care packages can lead to some really cool opportunities. Coffee with someone you barely know, delivering food to their home, maybe even driving someone who isn’t able. I’ll be transparent with you, some of these ideas still make me uncomfortable. This is where living boldly comes into play.
2) Living Boldly
How do we learn to live boldly, take the right risks, and become more self-confident? It’s all in habit-building and having the right mindset. Remember that “me mindset?” We can’t focus on building habits of boldness if we are consumed with ourselves. In fact, being able to take the focus off of ourselves is a great step of self-care. It’s like a big chain reaction – service in humility leads to boldness, boldness leads to self-confidence, and all of this leads to positivity that has now affected not only you but those around you.
Remember what I said about finding boldness in my purpose? That’s what helped me in those first baby steps, and now the giant leap out of my comfort zone. Not having a purpose to leaving your comfort zone can be a huge discouragement – especially when people ask you about it. “Hey, Sarah! Why are you going to England for a year?” “Uhhh… I don’t know.” Apply that question to the other things you do. If you don’t have an answer for it, then maybe it should be put on your activity waitlist. However, don’t let others define your boldness.
When people first asked me why I wasn’t going to college (when high school graduates normally do), I didn’t have an answer for them. I didn’t really know why yet. But I could feel that there was something else in store for me. When I was in those “I don’t really know” situations, it was awkward. I felt so much pressure to give in and go to my local community college like everyone else was. Girl, am I glad I waited.
Finding boldness in your purpose – and purpose for your boldness – takes time.
It might take longer than we want it to. It requires time, patience, and hard work. Trying new things (yes – things that are outside of your comfort zone). Sometimes your answer to the world’s question, “Why are you doing this,” is simply going to be “because I need to.” Or even because you want to!
3) Finding Stillness
Lastly, I really want to warn you about stress. I’m sure this is a very familiar element to you, as it affects nearly everyone at some point in their lifetime. News flash: trying too many new things at once can stress you out! In these moments, stillness is imperative.
Racing a hundred thousand miles per hour… speeding along like a wild mustang nearly impossible to reign in… flying and soaring like a flock of geese honking in the distance… exhausted, channeling all of the willpower that one can muster. This is our thought life. Stress, ideas, emotions, checklists, and alarms. Distractions which distract from other distractions. Childhood songs fighting their way back up to the surface of our memories. Family responsibilities and work responsibilities both playing tug-of-war with our attention.
Whether businesswoman, student, mother or teacher, this thought life affects us all.
Some may carry more than one – or all – of these titles. Though I applaud you for your hustle, I am here to reassure you of this: it is okay to stop. There are many pressures out there pushing us to get more accomplished, travel more, be more organized, and look good doing it. Though travel, productivity, and organization are great things, do we ever think to slow down, even for a moment? If nothing else I say here resonates with you, then take this one line: the better care you give yourself, the more productive you can be.
Stillness is something that doesn’t come naturally for me. I don’t mean just sitting still – you can be sitting in one place while still getting work done. No, I’m talking about true stillness. This is silence and solitude. In today’s world, we must be intentional with our solitude, stillness, and self-care. There are few limitations on how you can carry out your restful solitude – and how often.
Unplug from the pressures – which means leave your phone (and smartwatch). Go for a nature walk, sit on the top floor of a parking deck, get some coffee at a quiet café. Have a time of reflection, relaxation, and empty your thoughts. Play an instrument, read a book, knit… the possibilities are endless. Spend some time every week where you don’t think about deadlines, friends, and your comfort zone. Who knows, this solitude (yes, I mean solitude… not inviting your bestie over) could be way outside your comfort zone.
Take that risk. Take care of yourself.
Do you want to grow in confidence, love the reflection you see in the mirror and walk unashamedly in your identity? Click here to download our FREE e-book, EMBRACE, all about loving yourself well.
How do you get outside of your comfort zone? Share with us below! We love to hear from you.
Born and raised in a small, southern town, I love calling North Carolina home. I am saved by Grace, and passionate about helping others find boldness. Though I’m often at home working on my blog, I enjoy exploring new places - England is next on the list! Flannels, coffee, mountains, and deep conversations are essentials.