Most days, I’m very comfortable. I’m behind my computer, typing away. And, because I don’t have a desk yet, I’m often sitting on the couch (although that’s not as comfortable as it used to be).
The point, of course, is that I don’t often get out of my comfort zone. In fact, I regularly box myself in. I spent time developing filters to help my social awkwardness, and letting my introversion limit me in terms of friends and what I was willing to do in public. In a lot of ways, these are still issues I deal with in settings where I’m not entirely comfortable.
But I’m also learning that sometimes it’s important to get out of your comfort zone if you expect to grow as a person.
Above, you can see two pictures. On the left is a picture of karaoke during FinCon13. On the right is a picture of me singing karaoke during FinCon 14. Getting up in front of people to sing is not something remotely within my comfort zone. And it is very obvious in the older picture. I am not getting into it, and I’m even on the completely opposite side of the stage to my duet partner.
Since that picture was taken, though, I’ve stretched myself in a few ways. I released a book. I moved across the country. I put myself out there to form potentially deeper friendships. These are all things that shook me up a bit, and forced me to move beyond the confines of what’s comfortable.
I was still uncomfortable singing karaoke this year at FinCon14. However, as you can see, I dug down deep, found some confidence (probably helped along by the fact that I had done this before), and even shared personal space. I’m still a terrible singer, but at least this time I approached it with enthusiasm. And I had a lot more fun with it as a result.
Challenge Yourself Outside Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone is important. Whether you are trying to advance your career, grow your business, or enrich your life, you need to move beyond if you expect to make real progress.
Your comfort zone is where you stagnate. You might learn a few new things, and you might muddle through adequately, but you give up true growth when you avoid challenges. Just as you don’t end up developing muscles without putting stress on them and feeling a little sore, you aren’t going to develop yourself as a person if you hang out in your comfort zone.
Challenging yourself can force you to stretch and to grow. If you challenge yourself in your career, you have opportunities to advance and take on new responsibilities. Challenging your beliefs, your knowledge, and your abilities forces you to do something new and different — and possibly develop strength in ways that might surprise you.
Singing karaoke is hardly changing the world. However, my two karaoke experiences illustrate some of the changes I’ve gone through over the past year. While this past year (especially the last few months) has been challenging, I’ve also grown a lot. I’ve been more willing to make myself vulnerable before others, and I’ve learned a lot about putting myself out there and trying new things.
It’s led to two interesting collaborations with other bloggers, as well as possibilities to take a more active role in my community. I’ve also gained a little more confidence in my ability to express myself, and I feel more like I have something to offer others. I still have plenty to work on, though.
Because now my comfort zone is bigger, and even though I’ve made some solid progress, I won’t go farther until I step to the new limit of my comfort zone and cross that line.