Welcome to the FemalExperts Podcast – Your podcast by women, for women, about women.
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I’m so glad you decided to listen to mine of all the countless, exciting podcasts today. I hope I can surprise you thematically today, because I want to talk about the exciting topic of “comfort zone”.
What does “comfort zone” actually mean? If you look at the common definition on Wikipedia, it reads:
The buzzword comfort zone describes an individual area of private or social life that is characterized by comfort and freedom from risk.Wikipedia
I don’t know about you, but that sentence not only sounds boring, it feels like it. Nothing against comfort and also risk I don’t necessarily have to have at any time, but you can surely think: Who always strives for a comfortable and low-risk life, will probably hardly develop within this life, because development comes through movement and this in turn is triggered by decisions. Surely you can imagine that these decisions are not always low-risk, but can have an incredible effect.
Let me give you an example of incredible courage and getting out of your comfort zone
On March 02, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin took the public bus home in Alabama. She sat in the area that was designated for black people at the time.
Briefly to explain: the buses at that time were divided into several sections, so only white people were allowed to sit in the very front, seats were provided for black people in the back, while sitting in the middle was also allowed, at least until a white person wanted to claim a seat there. When this occurred, all black persons in that row had to stand up and move to the back in order to maintain legally mandated racial segregation (source: Wikipedia).
When a white woman boarded, the bus driver ordered Claudette Colvin, among others, to stand. When she refused, she was arrested and taken to jail. She was the first black woman not to pay the required fine and instead went to court. The resulting process ultimately led to, among other things, the elimination of segregation in bus transportation.
So in terms of today’s topic, it’s fair to say that when Claudette Colvin decided that day that she wasn’t giving up her seat, she not only showed incredible courage, but she also stepped out of her comfort zone. She has accepted the risk of a fine, if not imprisonment, by challenging the status quo. In retrospect, we can clearly say:
With her behavior, she questioned not only the racist behavior of others, as well as the legislation that legally legalized structural discrimination, but also the entire country, including its historical responsibility. So leaving your comfort zone not only impacts you, it can move entire countries.
Even today, with movements like #MeToo, #FridaysforFuture, or the Last Generation, we see the importance of stepping out of comfort and the low-risk realm to make a difference that is sometimes much bigger than us. Of course, this behavior can lead to resistance, especially when it touches the comfort zone of others. No one wants to be caught out, perhaps classifying their own behavior as not quite right.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can result in great changes, for yourself and for others, but it can also mean encountering resistance and hostility as you also challenge other people’s values and attitudes.
I want to give you a slightly less political example regarding the comfort zone and dive into entrepreneurship
Going into business for myself must have been a difficult step for those around me. If I were to describe the basic attitude of my family and friends, the word “safety” probably tops everything.
This means a stable partnership, a regular salary and a secure job.
When I decided not to go down the path of marriage, building a house, and parenting, and instead started two businesses with my partner, parted with almost all of my possessions by moving, and invested in stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies instead of savings accounts, I was appropriately not surprised that it felt like an act of insanity to others.
I was moving far away from the norm that we as a society had so painstakingly established over decades, or to put it bluntly, the norm that was predominantly MEN in society.
Yet it is so important to challenge the status quo. We already know that change is not something that comes with coziness.
But in case I can’t convince you just yet because you’re sitting comfortably on the couch or letting the sun shine on your face in the garden, I’ve brought you 5 more reasons why it’s important to break out of your comfort zone.
5 reasons why you too should break out of your comfort zone
- Personal Growth: By stepping out of your comfort zone, you open yourself up to new experiences and learning opportunities. This can help you develop personal skills and competencies and boost your self-confidence.
- Adaptability: In a constantly changing world, adaptability is an essential factor for personal, professional or corporate success. “Cognitive flexibility” enables us to react agilely and quickly to new circumstances. This is clearly one of the most important “future skills” we will need in the future.
- Creativity: stepping out of your comfort zone can also boost creativity by opening your mind to new ideas and perspectives. This can help find innovative solutions to problems or discover new ways to achieve goals. I’m sure you’re familiar with Albert Einstein’s quote here, “You can never solve problems with the same mindset that created them.” It is therefore inevitable to leave the comfort zone so that something new can emerge at all.
- Resilience: This may surprise you at this point, but challenges and difficulties experienced in particular can help build your resilience. The experience of stepping out of your comfort zone will help to better manage future challenges.
- Seize opportunities: If you always stay in your comfort zone, you miss opportunities that lie outside it. Whether it’s professional, personal or social opportunities, stepping out of your comfort zone can help you recognize and actively seize those opportunities.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, okay, okay, I get it. Getting out of your comfort zone is important, but how do I do that specifically, please?
I’ve brought you 5 steps for this as well, to make your leap into the unknown a little easier.
Get out of your comfort zone with these 5 steps
- Set goals: Determine what you want to achieve and set clear as well as specific goals (The SMART rule can help you with this). A goal gives you direction and incentive to get out of your comfort zone, and brings security as well as structure.
- Small steps: It is not necessary to make radical changes. It’s not about quitting your job tomorrow. Instead, start with small, achievable steps that slowly take you out of your comfort zone. Maybe you can change conditions or create new opportunities (new hobbies, meeting exciting people, learning a language, etc.) to get back the feeling you are missing.
- Learning and expanding skills: Personal development lays the foundation for all further development steps. Take classes, read books, listen to podcasts, or watch webinars. The more knowledge and skills you have, the more confidence you will have to try new things, but beware: don’t become a so-called “certificate hunter,” that is, a woman who moves from course to course without ever applying her knowledge herself. So you get stuck in a comfort zone again, even if you don’t notice it right away because you are acquiring new knowledge.
- Take risks: You don’t have to be risk-averse, but you shouldn’t be afraid of calculated risks either. We must never forget: Failures are part of the process. It’s better to try something and fail than not try it at all. Exceptions here are, of course, life-threatening risks.
- Seek support: It can be helpful to have friends, family, or even a coach to support you along the way. They can give you encouraging feedback and help you see your progress. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, my family here is reacting rather “semi-enthusiastically” to my idea,” I’ll just say: Welcome to the club. Don’t worry. It just means that your development will touch their comfort zone and they may be afraid that they will have to change along with it. Of course, not everyone likes that, because the comfort zone is already quite cozy. Here it is generally advisable to look for mentors, coaches or trainers in networks outside the family who can provide mental or professional support.
My conclusion about leaving your comfort zone
Basically, I can tell you: Since I’ve been an entrepreneur, I’ve not only left the comfort zone for the most part, there are times when I practically live outside of it and I have to say: Yes, it’s exhausting and costs overcoming, but I’ve grown so much in the last few years as a result, developed incredibly quickly and also lost a lot of fears than in all the years before combined.
So the next time you’re faced with a decision that makes you a little nervous so you don’t know if you can do it, I’m sharing my golden graduation tip here:
“Raise your hand first and then figure out how to make it happen.”
In my experience, we women “overthink” decisions far too often and block many opportunities in the process.
Of course, at this point I would be very interested to know when was the last time you left your comfort zone and how did it feel for you? Feel free to get in touch with me about this on social media or drop me a comment.
Of course, I hope I was able to lure you out of your comfort zone a bit today by giving you some exciting perspectives and thoughts, and I look forward to hearing from you again for the next episode.
Until then, I wish you another wonderful day.
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.