People are programmed to keep themselves safe. It’s part of what makes us human. We want to stay healthy, comfortable, and alive because those are the things our brain rewards us for.
What would it look like, though, if you took a step outside of your comfort zone? Sure, you can stay where you are, completely safe and comfortable, but will you feel fulfilled doing so? Is that the place where you’ll reach your goals and continuously learn and grow? My guess would be probably not.
Today, we’re talking about living on the other side of risk and feeling safe enough to walk boldly out of your comfort zone in pursuit of your dreams and ambitions. I’ll talk a little bit about the importance of taking risks, both from a scientific and psychological standpoint, as well as a few ways to stay in touch with yourself while doing so.
Staying in Your Comfort Zone
People enjoy feeling comfortable. When you feel content and fully at peace, your brain releases feel-good chemicals that ultimately reward you for your behavior.
Before I go any further, I want to highlight that there’s nothing wrong with your comfort zone and having it to return to every now and then. In fact, many psychologists believe that staying in your comfort zone for certain periods of time can help increase confidence and give you an opportunity to draw on past experiences.
However, staying in your comfort zone for too long can also inhibit learning. If you’re repeating the same tasks every day and know their expected outcomes, you may find yourself living on autopilot.
It’s when new experiences take over and we start getting a bit uncomfortable that learning begins to happen again and we start to grow.
The Benefits of Taking Risks
Besides activating the learning centers of your brain, what are a few other benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone? Here are just a few:
You are much less likely to be open to new and exciting opportunities while operating on your normal, day-to-day routine. Try to shake things up every now and then: make a new connection, take a class, even change what you have for breakfast.
It’s okay to start out small and work your way up. Just remember to continuously push yourself forward, even when it’s not altogether comfortable.
Let’s not gloss over it: taking risks is hard. It’s emotionally taxing, which can sometimes manifest into physical ailments as well.
However, pushing through will help make you stronger in the long run. It will make you more likely to take risks in the future, because you already have in the past.
Your tolerance for the unknown will increase, and you’ll grow to feel more confident (if only marginally at first) in stepping outside of your comfort zone.
In taking these risks, you’ll probably have more experiences with a wider range of people. These people will have backgrounds and experiences that are completely different from your own.
Building relationships with these people and getting to know them will give you a more well-rounded perspective of the world and the people you come into contact with every day. By making a conscious effort, your understanding of people’s situations and empathy for them may see a boost.
Take an Active Role
By taking a risk, that means you are taking an active stance in achieving your goals. When you’re in your comfort zone, you allow yourself to be more passive. You know what you need to do to be successful, so you do it without thinking.
Stepping outside of this, though, allows you to practice some creative problem solving. You may have to make decisions quickly and might possibly make mistakes, but at least you’re moving forward instead of treading water in the same place.
Taking Risks and Self Care
Just because you’re actively putting yourself out there more often does not mean you shouldn’t make time for yourself in order to recharge. In fact, it’s the exact opposite; you’ll probably need it more now than ever before.
When you take risks, you may find yourself feeling more tired, anxious, and stressed. That’s why it’s so important to check in and take care of yourself each and every day. Here are a few ways that you can accomplish this while also pushing yourself to take risks:
It can be hard finding time for yourself in the midst of a busy period, but it’s so essential to your overall well-being. If you can create a morning and evening practice, even if it’s just 10 minutes each day, you’ll find yourself feeling more balanced.
What you do during these periods is completely up to you, but there are a few suggestions throughout the rest of this list.
Speaking from personal experience, there are so many benefits to meditation and prayer. It provides a chance to connect with yourself, relax your mind, and connect with your Higher Power. Meditation has been shown to be a stress reducer, which will allow more positive thoughts and feelings that help to replace negativity.
As you do this over a period of time, you’ll notice many changes, including improved health and a more centered mindset.
Gratitude draws your attention to the positive aspects of your life, not to the negative. It also bolsters your self-worth. As you express gratitude within yourself, you will experience it in the outer world.
Gratitude will help you build bonds with people, and society, as you find the positive in these relationships. This comes from taking a different perspective, opening yourself to experience an increased understanding of others and how it applies to yourself.
You may even consider taking up journaling and writing down a few things you’re grateful for each day.
Find Small Inspirations
Over the years, I’ve collected several books, calendars and inspirational cards. I will switch things as the mood moves me. The readings, cards, or calendars always have an uncanny message for just when I need it.
If you’re able, try to start and/or end your day with a reading or an affirmation. Find something that supports your daily thoughts and helps to support what you want to create in your day, or your life. Find an inspirational book, and read a chapter a day or a certain number of pages a day. Or, create a list of affirmations that you can repeat during the day, and focus on them.
Take Time to Celebrate
When you make it through a particularly stressful week or day, take a moment to recognize your accomplishments. Even if things didn’t pan out the way you hoped, you still made it through, and that’s something to be proud of.
You might reward yourself with a long walk free from distractions, or even a night in to just relax and watch a movie. Whatever self-recognition looks like for you, be sure to make time for it. You’ve earned it.
Heading to the Other Side of Risk
Risks can be terrifying, but the fact of the matter is that life begins on the other side of risk. Sure, you may feel comfortable staying where you are, but you’ll always be left wondering what could have happened if you’d taken a leap of faith.
There’s no doubt that going through these stressful experiences is difficult and taxing. You may feel isolated in your struggles. Let me assure you that you’re not alone. I’m here to help you with achieving your goals and pushing past life’s discomforts. Schedule a meeting with me to start building your new path forward.