The Cambridge dictionary defines our comfort zones as being a behavioural space or situation in which you feel comfortable and do not have to do anything new or difficult. 98% of the world’s population are guilty of preferring to stay within their comfort zone, however as a student or graduate there is nothing more important that stepping out of this bubble and allowing yourself to be tested in order to develop your skills.
From that very first university lecture, to presentations and interviews as a new graduate, your journey through higher education will continuously push and test you. Whilst this can be a nerve-wracking experience and leave you pondering the unknown, these situations are crucial for your personal and professional development.
As a student myself I know first-hand that standing at the front of a lecture theatre to deliver a presentation, preparing for that all important interview or sitting an exam can leave you questioning not only yourself, but your own ability “what if I get it wrong?” “what if I forget what I am meant to say?” “what if I don’t know the answer to a question?”.
We cannot always know what will happen when we step out of our comfort zone, but what we do know is it means we are taking a risk, doing something we’ve never done before and developing our own skills all at the same time. We all doubt our own ability when it comes to doing something new, but we rise to the occasion and overcome the fear – with this comes a new found self-confidence and positive mind-set in knowing that you can in fact do what you thought you could not!
If you still are not convinced that leaving your comfort zone will help you to develop your skills, here are our top 3 reasons to join the 2% of the people living in a different mind-set;
1. You will start to take more risks
Finding myself leaving my comfort zone has seen me saying “yes” more often rather than saying “no” or “I’ll think about it…”. This change in attitude has seen presented me with more opportunities that I could have imaged; from travelling on my own around Australia, to working in Los Angeles and accepting a placement year in London. When you begin to test your own ability and step out of what may seem like a small, tight space, you will realise what you are actually capable of doing and how endless the possibilities in life are. You’ll find yourself starting to do new things, not just in university but in general day-to-day life, and in turn your comfort zone will expand, leaving your confidence boosted. Whilst the risks, or opportunities, as I like to call them, that I have taken may seem excessive to some, this isn’t to say that the only way to expand your comfort zone is by travelling to the other side of the world (however I would recommend it if given the chance!).
2. Change in perspective
Our outlook and take on milestones in life can leave our field of vision narrow, in turn leaving us apprehensive and unsure of taking on any new tasks and responsibilities. As discussed above, taking risks often lead to new opportunities, likewise a change in perspective can leave us feeling more confident. Over the last three years, I’ve found my personal perspective change for the better. As a first year student, standing in front of my peers to deliver a presentation seemed like the unimaginable. I assumed that because I felt nervous, I came across the same way. However, by gaining feedback from lecturers, I started to realise that I was actually capable of coming across as calm and confident. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes and seeing things from a different standpoint, led me to change the way I saw delivering presentations. Rather than being nervous and having to try and persuade myself it would be okay, I actually started to believe in my abilities.
3. Broaden your own horizons
There is nothing worse that stopping yourself from applying for your dream job because it doesn’t sit within your comfort zone. We are all aware of the dualistic voices that often control our thoughts (yes for those wondering I am talking about the little devil and angel sitting on the shoulders of a character in television program) telling us not to do something, or to do something.
“Should I apply for the job I’ve worked hard for over the last three years? Or shouldn’t I?” “Should I stay living in my own home town, or should I move somewhere I know will have endless opportunities for me?” are quite often the battles we have with ourselves, especially as graduates. However, as we leave our comfort zones, we find ourselves wondering what else is out there and how we can get to where we want to be. As you push yourself little by little, you’ll stop limiting yourself and start doing the things you want to do because you believe you can!
Whilst leaving your comfort zone is definitely beneficial, you shouldn’t push yourself too fast or rush into things. Build and develop your confidence by stripping back the task at hand and allow yourself to gradually leave the zone.
Written by Rebekah Litherland