9 Reasons You Should Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

What are you scared of? For me it’s snakes. I have a real fear of snakes. I don’t know where this came from but I don’t like them. Even seeing them on TV or in a movie gets my heart racing and freaks me out.

But besides snakes there are other things that make me uncomfortable. I’m not a huge fan of cold water. I don’t like to do things where I don’t feel 100% prepared or ready. And I don’t like not knowing.

So I guess I should move somewhere with warm water, no snakes and we the answers to all our questions. Kind of sounds like heaven doesn’t it? haha

Seriously though we all have certain things that make us feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s crowds. For many it could be public speaking. I know some people that don’t particularly enjoy air travel, particularly if it’s over water.

And we can look at each other’s fear, anxieties and things weren’t not comfortable with and smile. We might tease them a little bit about having a fear of spiders or swimming in deep water. We might think their phobias are childish because they aren’t our own.

So how does having overcoming our fears, phobias or things that make us uncomfortable help us with our health and fitness? Well below are 9 Reasons Why You Should Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.

  1. You learn about yourself – When was the last time you tried something for the first time? It’s kind of a hard question to answer, isn’t it. And because this is a hard question to answer tells us we are creatures of habit. When we do things the same way all the time we can sometimes run on auto-pilot and miss out on many of life’s lessons. In particular we can miss out on things we are good at, may have a talent or where we have weak links. All of this helps us going forward to achieving our goals, whether they be fitness-related or not.
  2. Growth requires stimuli – One of the early lessons I remember from science class was one of the definitions of a living organism was that it responded to stimuli. And when the stimuli is lessened growth is impaired. I remember a presentation from a neurosurgeon from UCLA who talked about a young basketball player always doing right-handed layups. When the basketball player tried a different sport they struggled. The explanation was that the brain understood one specific pattern for athletic movement. And it eliminated other neural pathways that weren’t involved in doing a lay-up. This was referred to as neural pruning. Variety and new challenges helps ensure we use as much of our brain as possible.
  3. A little anxiety is a good thing – Has there been a time when you had a great performance? Maybe it was in sports? Or at school? Maybe at work? Or anything in life really? If you look back there was usually a certain level of stress or anxiety you experienced prior to your achievement. And this can be explained by something called the Yerkes-Dodson Law.
    The Yerkes-Dodson Law - The right amount of stress is required for optimal performance.

    The Yerkes-Dodson Law – The right amount of stress (arousal) is required for optimal performance.

    Basically when stress, anxiety (or in the case of the graph, arousal) is moderate we can achieve a peak performance. When these are too low or high, performance is impaired. This is similar to the training effect of lifting weights. Too much or too little stress from training is not optimal. However if we can induce the right amount of stress on the system we will achieve the best results.

  4. Failure is OK – Oftentimes we stay in our comfort zones for fear of failure. What will others think of us if we fail? What will we think of ourselves if we fail? And you know what? The answer is who cares? I remember reading failure is a first attempt in learning. And failure is usually a bad thing when we don’t learn from our mistakes.
  5. We can inspire others – Have your noticed someone you know do something impressive? And thought to yourself, ‘I wonder if I could do that?’ Sometimes we think only world records or Herculean efforts impress people. Definitely not. For many people, seeing someone similar to themselves achieve a goals motivates them to try the same. Think back to the things you’ve done in the past and know that you may have inspired others to do the same.
  6. Remind ourselves we’re not perfect – Sometimes the people that under the most stress put themselves in this situation. By trying to be perfect they are under enormous pressure to not fail. Think back to high school when the smartest kid got a question wrong. This would lead to the class clown quickly pointing out their mistake and mocking them in some way. This might drive the academic student to retreat and not stray from their strengths. However when we try something new there shouldn’t be an expectation to be perfect. We should be allowed to learn (i.e. fail) and get acquire a new skill. It’s definitely liberating to step out of your area of expertise and not expect to be perfect.
  7. We will have higher focus – Think about whatever it is you do well. Maybe you’re a skier. And you love skiing a particular run at your local hill. How much do you focus on skiing? Can you relax a little bit and simply get into a flow to get down the hill? Think about trying something new. How high is your focus if you were new to skiing or just at a new hill? You are aware of all the new movements of the sport. You are aware of all the new aches and muscle soreness that ski bums don’t get anymore. Generally our focus is higher with new tasks. And not to get into a whole new blog post but when Buffet, Jobs and Gates were all asked independently what accounted for their success they all said focus.
  8. We become children again – Do you have young kids? If not, have your ever noticed that young kids are fearless? Sometimes this is due to ignorance and not knowing the perils they face by their actions. Sometimes it is due to poor decisions related to incomplete neural development. And other times it may be due to an attempt to attract someone from the opposite sex. Whatever the reason the fact is that our comfort zones shrink as we age. We have a higher aversion to risk as we age. And for our safety and benefit this is sometimes a good thing. However within reason there are huge benefits to stepping out of our comfort zones and taking more risks. If for no other reason than we get to become like children again.
  9. Simulates creativity – Are you a creative person? I’m definitely not. A good stick figure would be considered art as far as I’m concerned. But what I do find is that new experiences and situations gives us new perspective. It allows us to see things through new lenses. And as a result we can sometimes see solutions to things that we didn’t consider previously. If part of what you do involves solving problems and finding better ways to do things maybe getting out of our comfort zone will provides insights that were previously not perceptible to us.

Going forward think of all the new things you can try to get out of your comfort zone. What would be the opposite of what you currently do? What would challenge you the most? For the power-lifter this might be doing a running clinic. And maybe the yogi might do a block on strength training. If I always train but never compete maybe I could enter a race of some type. If I always train alone maybe I could do some Group training. The options are endless.

For many people that are looking to find a new program, they should check out Rock Your Jeans. This gets started October 11 ,with a Nutritional Seminar on October 6, and runs until December 4.

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