Get Out of Your Comfort Zone in 2022

The importance of challenging yourself to break out of a rut.

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Eleanor usually starts the new year with a burst of energy, but this year she’s lacking motivation. The pandemic has dragged on for two years, and she’s tired. In her most recent meeting with her career coach, she asked for some idea to introduce new energy and change up her routine.

According to Psychology Today, leaving your comfort zone helps you learn to deal with change. It may seem counterintuitive to introduce more change into your life at a time when the world is so unstable. But getting out of your comfort zone can be an enjoyable exercise that builds the tools you need to deal with less pleasant, more disruptive changes.

Here’s how to shake things up.

Getting out of your comfort zone can be an enjoyable exercise that builds the tools you need to deal with less pleasant, more disruptive changes.

Decide where you want to grow.

“Look for challenges in the important areas of your life: mind, body, spirit, professional life, relationships, and finance," says Sean Carney, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. Most people already have an idea of where they might have gotten too comfortable. Pay special attention to that little voice in the back of your head — it’s a great indicator of where some change is needed.

Get used to a little discomfort.

A major reason people don’t push themselves outside their comfort zones is the fear of discomfort. But by now, given the pandemic, we all know that we can survive discomfort. And discomfort becomes easier to take on voluntarily when you know there’s a sense of accomplishment and growth on the other side.

One caveat: the point isn’t to push yourself to your personal limits. “Too much change is a fast track to anxiety — or even burnout,” Carney says. Instead, aim for the ‘‘zone of proximal development,’’ a space just outside your comfort zone that allows for gradual growth.

Stay accountable for your progress.

Maybe you’re working to guarantee your professional relevance by learning a new skill or becoming a better cook by trying one new recipe per week. Whatever your challenge, there are ways to stay accountable.

Document your plan on paper, for starters. Break it down into small, manageable action items that don’t feel overwhelming. Since everything takes time, schedule those actions into your calendar. And if it makes sense, work with a career coach who can share practical strategies for staying on track.

Take the pressure off.

Most popular advice about getting out of your comfort zone is centered on self-improvement. But people who have been focused on just staying above water for the past couple of years may need to put their efforts into self-care instead. “Whatever you’re doing to get by is enough,” Carney says. Your challenge can be to take better care of yourself in just one small way, every day.

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