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Six Creative Ways to Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Comfort Zone Infographic showing six creative ways to move forward on your journey.

At some point, you may have heard the advice that if you want to succeed you need to step out of your comfort zone. Why? Our human brain is wired to take short cuts that eliminate risk. Our comfort zone invites rote, time-tested behaviors, routine solutions, and flourishes on non-action. It lulls us into thinking that we are in a risk-free environment and it's better to be safe than innovative. But are we really risk-free? Rarely. When we are in our comfort zone, we become less alert, less willing to change, and less creative. The comfort zone invites us to sideline our aspirations and ideas to make room for giving into self-doubt and status quo. Potential obsolescence and dwindling self-efficacy seem like pretty big risks in a world that continues to change at record pace. The first step to moving outside your comfort zone is learning to move from wondering to doing.

Moving from "Why" to "How"

Understanding why we are creatures of comfort is only the first step. I've spent decades working alongside creatives in the performance and design space. Creators, performers, designers, etc. can only do their work if they venture outside of their comfort zone. As a listener, a learner, and a practitioner of bold creative journeys, I'm happy to share six creative hacks used by actors, writers, directors, and artists to venture on a quest to the other side of comfort.

  1. Claim Your Values: How do you take a sense of security on a bold, good-risk journey? By identifying and staying close to your personal values, you can begin to mitigate risk by not abandoning what you believe. Map your journey by being values-centric. How can your values guide you?

  2. Act vs. Judge: Think about relevant, present-time steps that you can do to keep forward momentum moving. When we analyze and judge the big leaps, our protective comfort zone comes calling asking us to keep risk at bay. Think of actions and simple steps that move you forward. Questions such as "what is one easy action I can take today?"

  3. Be Curious: Our comfort zone wants us to believe that we have to know every step and be an expert before moving off the safety of our proverbial couch. Remind yourself that adventurers are curious and ask questions as they act to continue to learn, move forward, and harness potential. What can you discover? What don't you know? How could you find out? Who could you talk to?

  4. Name the Fear: When we take the time to name what we are afraid of or what seems risky, we demystify it. We also make it something that is right-sized to the situation rather than a looming monster we don't want to confront. After naming the fear/risk, ask one of your values to join you in meeting the monster or greeting the risk; and then use your values to navigate the path forward. Take one small step and see if the risk is as big as you imagined.

  5. Choose a Metaphor: Often if we put the fear or our perceived risk in the form of a metaphor we can move beyond non-action. I often use the red tape metaphor with my clients to move beyond obstacles. What if (the risk/fear) was a story with a happy ending? What would happen? How can you integrate that into your journey?

  6. Direct the Movie: What if you switch roles and become the director of your play/movie rather than the actor? How would you change the script? What if you asked the actor to get off the comfy couch by changing the lighting or changing the perspective? Change the setting and move it out of the comfort zone by changing the scene and/or changing the players in the scene.

Don't Abandon Your Comfort Zone Completely

Our brain can't sustain constant adventure all the time and we need periods of rest, comfort and security. When you return from your journey or take a recess to replenish yourself and your supplies, you can use your comfort zone as a reward or in celebration of reaching a milestone. The key to creativity is being intentional when it comes to the comfort zone. Know what role the comfort zone is playing and whether it is calling you to move forward or whether it is a distraction from a bigger more creative calling.

Break the Tape Leadership helps leaders unleash creativity and potential in themselves and the organizations they lead to generate meaningful momentum. (And we joyfully help leaders/teams get out of their comfort zone to move forward on their journey.)


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