Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Rewards of Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

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From Jeremy: This is a guest post by Jessica McMann. She is a freelance writer trying to change the world one step at a time through blogging about things that matter. Find some of her work over at christiancolleges.com.

We’ve all been encouraged to step outside our comfort zones. It might be a friend doing the encouragement, or perhaps it’s something we’ve arrived at ourselves through thoughtful prayer and reflection.

Sometimes stepping out of one’s comfort zone can amount to a huge phase shift in life, like taking a new job or starting a relationship. Other times the act can be as simple as forgoing a daily routine to do something new and different like socializing with coworkers after hours or finally taking the step to cook more at home.

Whatever the case may be, stepping outside of one’s comfort zone is usually a healthy and rewarding experience.

The problem arises when we can’t see the potential rewards of such an act because of all the anxiety we might be harboring.

Comfort zones are important and powerful parts of everyday living, but there are times when they can hold us back from our true potential.

photo by Mike Baird (creative commons)

Steps Large and Small

Of course there are many ways for us to step outside our comfort zones, and doing so can affect all aspects of our lives large and small.

In my experience what typically pushes people over the edge to try out new things is the overriding urge to resist the predictable and to change for the better.

It’s this desire to resist monotony and try new things—paired with guidance from God—that leads so many people into unknown but fruitful territory. It’s almost as if people who step out of their comfort zone are finally acting on feelings and aspirations they’ve held for quite some time.

For example, someone worried about taking their vacation days for fear of missing work might finally take that road trip they’ve always dreamed of.

Or perhaps someone who doubts their ambition to paint may at long last sign up for the first round of art classes.

The scale of the step doesn’t matter—what matters is that we embrace the chance to step outside of the familiar and experience something new.

Chances are it’s a step in the right direction.

The Steps I Took

I’ll close with a brief anecdote about my own experiences with stepping outside my comfort zone on a grand scale.

For a few years after college I had kept a number of administrative desk jobs, none of which directly related to my aspirations as a writer. But I held the jobs all the same, worrying that if I were to quit and try to achieve my dreams on my own that some unknown calamity would occur and I’d be unable to salvage my life from it.

In other words, I was afraid to take a risk.

Some years passed and suddenly it hit me: I realized that I had to step outside my comfort zone and set out to do what I’d always dreamed of doing.

Within a few short months I had quit my desk job, terminated the lease for my apartment, and sold most of my belongings. With my remaining resources I hit the road to become a travel writer and freelancer.

I took the step—and make no mistake about it, it was a huge step—and tried something without knowing the outcome.

To this day I’m glad I made the decision; it helped shape me into who I am today.

Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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12 Replies

  1. From a fellow freelance writer and desk-job holder in Christian higher education, good for you, Jessica!

  2. I think risk aversion is the single greatest reason people do not pursue their dreams. I know the fear of the unknown is something that shackles some of my dreams.

    1. I agree. We tell ourselves stories of risk when the truth is we are scared to change things up a bit.

  3. I try to make it a habit to step outside of my comfort zone. It’s the area I experience the most growth.

    1. The only other option is to remain stagnant, which might be okay, but probably isn’t better.

  4. Just to counterbalance the thought, sometimes, rare as it may be, one’s “comfort zone” exists to show us where we shouldn’t go. Change and risk merely for the sake of change and risk doesn’t always get results. More importantly, it’s a formula, which means we tend to rely more on the formula than on the direction of the Holy Spirit.

    I’ll admit, more often than not God will yank us out of our comfort zones to get something done. We in the USA are especially fond of our comfort zones, with emphasis on the “comfort.” To say that growth only happens outside of those zones, though, is almost as risky as saying that we should stay comfy & content.

    When I was a young Christian in college, I got to hear missionaries speak. Many, many young people are called to overseas fields for God. I was not, and a friend of mine confirmed that she didn’t see me being an overseas missionary. Rather, God called me to stay here, and (I pray) be a missionary of a different sort: one to the engineering community where I work and have worked, and one on the World Wide Web. That has risks of its own, though not so many as physically being overseas.

    Perhaps the key is to discern between God’s peace in a situation and one’s “comfort zone?”

    1. The goal isn’t merely to take on risk, but to challenge ourselves to do more than we were previously comfortable with.

      1. And my point is that mere challenge or lack of “comfort” isn’t a worthy goal, either. Rather, finding what God wants you to do must be the primary goal, then you deal with whether it’s comfortable or not.
        I took a risk in 1993 to start my own business. I was comfortable with it, because I knew that’s what God wanted for me. The business never got off the ground, but through it I wound up meeting my wife of over 18 years, and my departure from my previous company gave glory to God. Now, I’ll grant you, when the savings started drying up, I got more than a bit uncomfortable, but a lack of comfort wasn’t what confirmed the risk for me.

  5. Rhon

    Thank you for sharing this. Your blog resonated so well with me as I’m pursuing a similar field. I’m moving to LA next week to chase my dream… But honestly, I’m more afraid than excited. Praying that this is the right direction.

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