You must have noticed that all of us tend to create our comfort zone and love to remain within the precincts of that comfort zone. This is just a human nature. This might be the case with most of you that while preparing for your competitive examination, you are able to concentrate on your studies only when you are sitting in the coziness of your study room. That is your comfort zone. Or you have developed a certain way of studying—by memorising a topic, or making notes in your own specific way—that is also your comfort zone. Or you complete your engineering education without much liking and then choose to switch over to, say, IAS or writing, that is how you find your comfort zone. While growing up, consciously or subconsciously, mostly subconsciously, we keep on creating our comfort zones and gradually get accustomed to them. To the extent that a slight idea of coming out of our comfort zones makes us jittery.
But have you ever realised that the boundaries of your comfort zones are always a limiting factor in your personal growth? Every comfort zone you create around yourself to some or large extent limits your capability to try and be comfortable in new situations. More importantly, you are seldom conscious of the fact that your comfort zones have injected a fear of the unknown within you. Many people do not get out of their comfort zones because they nurture all kinds of apprehensions about being in a new situation. Yet, getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things is one of the most effective ways to challenge yourself and make you a better person.
As Mr. Chetan Bhagat, the famous author and columnist, who graduated from IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad and served as an investment banker for a few years before finding his true calling, has aptly said, “Once you taste failure, you have no fear. You can take risks more easily. Then you do not want to snuggle in your comfort zone anymore—you are ready to fly.” And fly he actually did—as Mr. Bhagat never rested in his comfort zones and always ventured out to find new avenues, new skies. His education took him to become an investment banker, like many of his ambitious peers, but he left it after a few years to pursue writing. His first novel, ‘Five Point Someone’, based on his experiences at IIT, was published in 2004 and later adopted into a Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots in 2009. Both the book and the film were instant hit with the youngsters who got enchanted with the message that do not allow your creativity stifled by the system, instead pursue what your heart is at. From a mechanical engineer to student of management to investment banker to writer to columnist to motivational speaker to YouTuber and one of the ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People’ (Time, 2010) in between, he wears many hats today and nobody knows where his constant longing for something new will lead him to next.
Getting out of your comfort zone is actually a four-stage process, if we go by what psychologists suggest. When you leave your comfort zone, you first win over your fear zone, then enter a learning zone and finally get into your growth zone. Here are some simple tips to accomplish the journey from comfort zone to growth zone. First, make a list of things that you find yourself “uncomfortable” with. Secondly, do one thing every day that scares you. Third, ask deep questions like: what holds me from applying newer methods of studying? Fourth, switch up your routine just a little. Fifth, make it a habit to try out something new. Six, as you enter the learning zone, try adding a new skill to your arsenal—anything that you have not tried your hand on yet. Seven, work out in a new fun way—this is one of the techniques that takes you out of your comfort zone mentally and physically both. Finally, start a creative endeavour as creativity is all about stepping into the unknown and learning in a new environment.
Having learnt to live out of your comfort zone, you will find that you have grown into a more confident, more positive, more energetic, more risk-free and more rejuvenated person. Growing from your comfort zone grants you all new experiences and novel tools to keep and build upon as you move further into your growth zone. And remember, it all starts with just one small step. With best of wishes for your success in all your endeavours.