The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should)
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Your comfort zone is a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. That provides a state of mental security.
You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress.
A state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance. In order to maximize performance, a state of relative anxiety is needed—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called "Optimal Anxiety," and it's just outside our comfort zone.
Too much anxiety and we're too stressed to be productive, and our performance drops off sharply.
Without the sense of unease that comes from having deadlines and expectations, we tend to do the minimum required to get by.
We also fall into the "work trap," where we feign "busy" as a way to stay in our comfort zones and avoid doing new things.
By challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn't do, you can experience some of that uncertainty in a controlled, manageable environment.
Learning to live outside your comfort zone when you choose to can prep you for life changes that force you out of it.
As you challenge yourself, your comfort zone adjusts, so what was difficult and anxiety-inducing becomes easier as you repeat it.
"Productive discomfort" becomes more normal to you, and you're willing to push farther before your performance falls off.
Even in the short term, a positively uncomfortable experience can help us brainstorm, see old problems in a new light, and tackle the challenges we face with new energy.
Going back to your comfort zone from time to time will help you process your experiences.
The last thing you want is for the new and interesting to quickly become commonplace and boring.
It is our natural tendency to be impressed by new things, only to have the incredible become ordinary after a short time.
It's why we can have access to so much information instantly and still get so bored.
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