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Some people have dedicated their lives to being their best version, setting and achieving goals, and contributing beyond themselves. We often call them high-achievers. But at the end of the day, they are just the ones who break free of their comfort zone and take risks.

To understand how important leaving your comfort zone is, you must first be aware of how living in it limits you. How can living in our comfort zone block success, confidence and happiness? Because progress is only possible when trying new things, doing what’s uncomfortable and scares us, embracing uncertainty and taking action besides not knowing the outcome. All this isn’t possible in a comfort zone. It’s the place where you feel safe and do only what you’ve always been doing. Which means there’s no possible way to achieve a different result.

Living in a zone of comfort where everything is familiar prevents us from generating ideas, dreaming bigger, changing our behaviour and mindset, and reaching our goals in life. It also decreases our levels of confidence and happiness. People are made to always take risks and do what scares them. It’s how we learn and grow. By denying that and avoiding any form of change, we get stuck and this makes us unhappy. As there’s nothing we actually see progress with, we also can’t boost our self-esteem. The solution to that is to begin taking risks. However, a risky life doesn’t mean an irresponsible one. The kind of risk we’re talking about that can get you out of your comfort zone is also the one that leads to self-reliance.

What does it mean to take responsible risks and how does it lead to self-reliance? Successful people plan before doing anything. But in the end, they still take action even though nothing is certain from then on. And that’s the beauty of self-improvement. It’s how we move forward and get further than we ever imagined. Choosing this approach in life also leads to believing in yourself, trusting your intuition and being self-reliant. These are all practical and help you fix your relationships, take control of your time, develop a powerful mindset, excel in your career, and more. Let’s see what you can do now to break free from your comfort zone and start living life on a new level.

1. Challenge yourself as often as you can

Comfort is the enemy of success. To grow, you need to constantly challenge yourself and do things that feel uncomfortable.
A good exercise is talking to strangers. There are social anxiety and resistance in the beginning. Overcoming these and starting a conversation with somebody will immediately leave all fears and doubts behind and make you feel good.
There’s nothing you can lose, really. Every time you practise this, you’ll also become a better communicator, feel more comfortable in your skin, and boost your confidence. And each next time it will become easier to approach strangers.

2. Analyse your fears

Most fears are irrational. Sit down and set some time aside to list anything in life that scares you - the big and the small things. It’s shocking how most people live a life defined by fear, when actually we are the ones in control. Once you have a list of things that scare you, try to see that nothing is really that bad.

3. Do what scares you

The next step is the solution to leaving any form of comfort behind and using more of your potential. Whatever it is that scares you, there’s one way to deal with it - face that fear to see it has no power over you. Do bungee jumping, travel solo, sing in public, wear clothes others don’t approve of, break up with the partner you’ve been with for so long but know isn’t your soulmate, etc.

4. Try new things

The next thing you should add to your weekly schedule is novelty. New activities engage our brains in ways we can’t imagine and help us deal with our insecurity. Action leads to more action and we soon find ourselves taking chances and making the most of each opportunity in front of us.

5. Change your routine

While routines help us be disciplined and productive, they are also barriers to achieving more and being creative. Change yours to see what will happen. Do things in a different way. That might mean taking the long way back home, walking instead of driving, waking up an hour earlier to have a workout, etc.

These five ways to break free of your comfort zone are also a pretty enjoyable way to live life. You’ll feel energised all the time and motivated to do more and be more. Don’t let that feeling go. It’s what drives progress.

Steven J Pinto is a psychotherapist, entrepreneur/executive coach and motivational speaker. Learn more by visiting his website at www.stevenjpinto.com.