Stepping out of comforst zone by hitchhiking

How To Make A Habit Of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

The comfort zone is a mental state or situation where you feel safe and in control of your life. In it, exist only familiar situations, people, and routines. Stress levels are quite low in the comfort zone because you aren’t required to do anything new, and don’t have any challenges to face.

No, stress or challenges?! Sounds pretty great right?

"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." -Unknown Click To Tweet

But the problem is, that if you want to grow or change in any way, staying in the comfort zone makes it nearly impossible. 

To form new habits, learn new skills, accomplish new things, discover new passions, and meet new people – you must venture out from the safety of your comfort zone.

It is not an easy thing to do – but it can be done! 

In this post, I will present a 3-step process for how to make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone so that you can improve your habits and live life to the fullest!

I will even present a method for stretching or expanding your comfort zone so that things that were once uncomfortable and out of reach, become possible!

Shall we get started?

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The Benefits of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

We’ve all likely heard the quote by Neale Donald Walsch stating that, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. 

But what does that actually mean? Why is it important to step out of your comfort zone, and is there really any harm if you decide you’d rather not? 

I’ll let you decide for yourself. Here’s what science has to say about it.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone:

  • Helps you realize your full potential and discover what you are truly capable of.
  • Allows you to try new things and take risks presenting opportunities for you to learn, discover new talents and passions, and grow as a person.
  • Helps you learn how to deal with the unknown, cope with change, and overcome challenges. 
  • Builds courage, independence, and self-confidence.
  • Makes life more interesting, and can improve overall happiness and quality of life.
When you make a habit of stepping outside of your comfort zone, life becomes an adventure! Click To Tweet
Hitchhiker on a country road, representing stepping out of your comfort zone.

How One Man Set Out On A Quest To Flip His Comfort Zone Upside-Down

So now we know the benefits of stepping out of the comfort zone – but how do we actually go about doing it, both purposefully and consistently?

One man named Jia Jiang took the idea of regularly stepping out of his comfort zone to the extreme. He undertook a quest in which he subjected himself to 100 days of what he called public “rejection therapy”.

Each day, for 100 days, he did a task that he expected to get rejected at and then posted the video on YouTube for the world to see. 

Why on earth would anyone do this to themselves you might ask? Jia explained that he decided to undertake this quest after his pitch for funding for a new business venture was rejected. He was devastated by this rejection, and wanted to make sure he would never be caught off guard by it again – hence his rejection therapy. 

Jia started out slow, making small requests from strangers like asking if he could get a “burger refill” at a restaurant. 

At first Jia said it was really uncomfortable and embarrassing, but he found as he continued his quest, that each rejection got a little easier. 

Soon Jia was making bigger and bigger requests like asking to cook his own food at a restaurant, and (my personal favorite) visiting a fire station and asking the firefighters if he could slide down their fire pole. 

By the end of the100 days, Jia said he felt more bold, confident, and even “rejection-proof”. 

If you want to learn more about Jia Jiang’s experiment in rejection and where he’s at now, check out his:

How You Can Make A Habit Of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone Too

Don’t worry, your ventures outside of your comfort zone need not be so extreme as Jia Jiang’s (unless you’re a glutton for punishment of course, and in that case, go for it!).

But how can we take the lessons from his experiment, and apply them to enrich our own lives and help us achieve our goals?

I think there are 3 big takeaways from Jia’s experiments, that you can use to make a habit of stepping outside your comfort zone when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

First, figure out what makes you UNcomfortable. For Jia, it was rejection.

Second, commit to doing one thing outside of your comfort zone each day. Note, that it doesn’t necessarily have to be every single day. It could be once a week or three times a week etc. The important point here is that it should be a regularly scheduled thing so that you don’t procrastinate.

Third, start slow, and build up to tasks that are further and further outside of your comfort zone. For example, Jia started with asking for a burger refill, and worked up to larger tasks like the fire pole etc. 

[Sidenote: this advice also follows that of one of my favorite quotes. “Do one thing every day that scares you.” –  Eleanor Roosevelt]

Example Of How Consistently Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone Can Help You Achieve Your Health And Fitness Goals

To understand how this 3-step process mentioned above can help you achieve your health and fitness goals – let’s examine a case study – meet Mary.

Mary has over 50 pounds that she would like to lose to get her blood lipids and blood pressure back on track, and to feel more comfortable in her own skin. 

Mary has tried to lose the weight many times, using many different methods including multiple crash diets and exercise programs. 

She has told her friends and family of her goals before each of her previous attempts, and each time she failed to lose the weight and ended up quitting on her goal. 

Due to these past failed attempts, Mary is extremely embarrassed and uncomfortable to even be attempting to lose the weight again, despite the goal being very important to her.

She has decided to give it another try but is extremely nervous to do the following things: go shopping for workout gear, be seen wearing workout gear or at the gym, to tell her friends and family that she’s trying again, and to join group exercise classes.

Possible progression for gradually stepping out of her comfort zone:

  • Window shop online for types of workout clothes she thinks she’d be least embarrassed in.
  • Figure out what store near her carries that brand of workout clothes.
  • Go to the store and buy one outfit.
  • Wear the outfit at home alone so she can get used to it.
  • Try a short workout at home (repeat until ready to move to the next step).
  • Start walking around the neighborhood (repeat until ready to move to the next step).
  • Tell someone about her goal.
  • Call the gym to ask about a membership.
  • Go in and sign up for a membership.
  • Walk on the treadmill at the gym (repeat until ready to move to the next step).
  • Join a beginner level group exercise group.

Note that these tasks address a lot of Mary’s fears around working out and losing weight. They also start out small, and work up to bigger and bigger tasks. Some of these smaller tasks could be completed every day, but the larger ones might be a bit more spaced out. 

Each one of these tasks will feel uncomfortable to Mary at first, but as she completes each one, she will slowly and steadily increase in her confidence levels and we’d likely see that she would be willing to venture out to work on bigger tasks that are further away from her original comfort zone.

Expanding Your Comfort Zone

Think of the comfort zone like a muscle. The more you challenge a muscle, the bigger it grows. As the muscle gets bigger, the tasks that were once difficult for it, become easier.

The comfort zone is the same. The more you challenge your comfort zone, the more you’ll feel it expand and grow. As your comfort zone expands, you’ll realize that what once made you uncomfortable, no longer does. 

By growing, the muscle is preparing itself for larger challenges that it may be faced with in the future.

The same is true of your comfort zone – when it expands, your confidence grows and you will be able to venture further and further from what was your original comfort zone. And this will be an incredibly liberating realization! 

Recall that we saw this happen with Jia Jiang an his Rejection Therapy – he was embarrassed by even the smallest rejections at first, but soon became accustomed to them, and by the end of his 100 rejections, he was actually enjoying it!

"As you gain confidence, 'I can do this!' becomes 'What else can I do?'" – Chris Guillebeau Click To Tweet

In the image below, the blue innermost circle shows the original comfort zone. Each of the bigger (grey and white) circles shows how the comfort zone can expand through the effortful practice of stepping out of the comfort zone on a regular basis.

Diagram of how stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis can cause your comfort zone to expand and grow.

Conclusion

By purposely stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis, you will build confidence, and gradually be able to take on larger tasks – tasks that you were once too afraid or uncomfortable to even attempt!

To make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone:

  1. Figure out what makes you UNcomfortable.
  2. Commit to doing one thing just outside of your comfort zone each day (or at least on a regular basis).
  3. Start with small tasks and gradually work up to bigger ones.

And there you have it, an easy-to-follow 3-step plan for how to make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone so that you can achieve your health and fitness goals and live your best life!

Your Turn!

What did you think of Jia Jiang’s Rejection Therapy?

Is there a part of your life where you would like to step out of your comfort zone more?

Please share your experiences in the comments – you never know what might motivate others to make their own change!

~Clarissa

P.S. – don’t forget to check out my brand new Free Resource Library! It’s got all kinds of checklists, templates, and worksheets for building healthier habits and living your best life! All you have to do to get instant access to my entire library is sign up below.

Step out of your comfort zone and see where life takes you.
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Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a teacher, a coach, and an avid adventurer! Armed with a master's degree in Exercise and Wellness, she is on a mission to teach people how to build healthier habits that support the adventurous lifestyle of their dreams. There is nothing Clarissa is more passionate about than helping people get active and live their lives to the fullest!

54 Replies to “How To Make A Habit Of Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

  1. I like how you provide and breakdown examples and analogies throughout this post. The stories of Jia Jiang and Mary really helped me understand how to step out of my comfort zone and why this is effective. I’m not too sure if I could do the same as Jia Jang tho lol 😅

    1. I’m with you on the rejection therapy – not for me! But I think the concept is amazing, and I can definitely see how it would help you get over the fear of rejection. Can you even imagine the things you could accomplish if you no longer had to worry about rejection? 🤯

      I’m so glad you found the examples helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! ❤️

  2. This is a huge deal for me. I am an introvert through and through, so pretty much getting out of the house is out of my comfort zone. I started my blog recently, and I’ve found myself challenging my comfort zone every day just by posting it. But it feels amazing and so rewarding! As much as rejection and failure is scary, if you succeed it is so worth it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You are very welcome Lex, I’m so glad you liked it! I think it is amazing that you are able to use your blog to help push the boundaries of your comfort zone. I think only good things can come from putting yourself out there like that. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and best of luck on your journey! 💪🏼❤️

  3. Absolutely love this! As a traveller my life has been enriched by all the times I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, whether it’s an adventure, an activity or simply just getting the courage to join a new group of people.

    The story of rejection therapy was amazing by the way. Not something I think I’ll be trying any time soon, but I’ll definitely continue to push myself outside my comfort zone. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Jamie Boucher | Bristolian Abroad

    1. You’re very welcome Jaime! The rejection therapy is certainly extreme, but I think it is a very amusing example of stepping outside of our comfort zones!

      Your example of traveling is also perfect for stepping out of comfort zones. I just finished reading a book about a man who traveled to every single country in the world and it really did a great job of illustrating the personal growth and journey that he went through in his travels.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and adding to the conversation!

  4. The rejection therapy sounds insane and is definitely something I’m going to look into, although maybe not asking to cook my own food at a restaurant haha. I’ve loved this so much I’ve found stepping out my comfort zone has helped anxiety and I’m looking forward to applying your ideas in the future!

    1. I’m so glad you found it useful Rachel! I also have quite a bit of anxiety, mostly in social situations. The do-something-every-day-that-scares-you technique has helped me come a long way in dealing with that social anxiety!

      I hope this will help you move forward with your own goals! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your experience! 💪🏼

  5. This is quiet detailed and definitely nothing grows in comfort zones.It takes quiet an amount of will and thirst for better to step up especially if the new road is one not traveled before.Thanks for the insight.

  6. I love the idea of thinking about the comfort zone as a muscle. I’m always hesitant to do something I’m uncomfortable with but I’m almost always glad I do. I either achieve something new or learn something about myself. I also find it’s not always as bad as I expect it to be!!!

  7. What a great read! I’ve made tremendous strides outside my comfort zone. Just because it’s scary doesn’t mean it’s not worth pushing through. Great things are on the other side of fear!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it Tanya! I 💯 agree that great things can be found on the other side of fear. I believe that fear is the biggest obstacle standing between people and their goals in the majority of cases. Congrats on challenging your fears by pushing the limits of your comfort zone, and thank you for sharing your experiences with us! 🙏

  8. Hey Clarissa – I’m a consultant and mentor and have been helping friends and colleagues for years on how to step out of their comfort zone. But, It was great to learn about Jia Jiang’s rejection theory and I’m definitely gonna check out the TED Talk on it. It hadn’t crossed my mind to practice this on a regular basis but can definitely see its advantages. Thanks for sharing

    1. You’re welcome Nadim! Jia Jiang’s TED Talk on Rejection Therapy is definitely worth a watch. Stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis need not be as extreme as what he did – but I have found it incredibly helpful to purposely challenge the comfort zone on a regular basis.

  9. I had never heard of that concept of rejection therapy before! Very fascinating post! I like the idea of starting with small things to adjust your mindset to taking you outside of your comfort zone and having the support of friends and family to do new tasks with you, helps too!

    1. Yes, I think it’s important to start with the smaller tasks first, and then work up to bigger ones as you gain a little more confidence. And I’d definitely agree that having a friend or family member to cheer you on or even try something new with you makes the whole thing a little easier. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  10. Great post. I myself am introvert and I can identify quite a few things that put me outside my comfort. I do try and push myself, when I do I find that I love myself more for it.

  11. This is such a valuable post- I realise that stepping out of our comfort zones stimulates true personal growth. At the beginning of the year I was starting to do this, unfortunately we went into lockdown and it has been put on hold (doing this things virtually aren’t quite the same) but I am setting my sights on pursuing this goal again!

    1. I’m sorry lockdown flipped your goals on their heads! I think this happened for a lot of people unfortunately. So glad you found the post valuable. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your experiences, and best of luck with your upcoming attempt! 💪🏼

    1. Yes I think the build up from smaller tasks to larger one was key in his rejection therapy experiment. It would be tough enough starting with the small ones! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading Nathalie!

  12. What a detailed, insightful post. I love that you provide so many examples, and make it relevant to all areas of life. Stepping out of my comfort zone has been difficult for me, but the older I get, the better I get at it! I will never give up.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading Lori! I’m glad you liked the examples! I’m a big fan of using examples to showcase the different ways the info I present can be used practically. I too have found that stepping out of my comfort zone has gotten a little easier over the years.

  13. The idea that our comfort zone can be expanded by exercising it like a muscle makes so much sense! I don’t feel hugely adventurous but to my partner (who I met after moving overseas on a one-way ticket) my ‘adventures’ were beyond his experiences and therefore his comfort zone.
    I think this shows that upbringing has a fair impact on our ‘base’ comfort zone size- for example being encouraged to climb every tree you see compared to being warned that you might fall if you try it! Given this, your step by step scaling examples are great- we can all stretch our comfort zone, we just have to be patient with ourselves! Thanks for sharing.

    1. You make a fantastic point Helen! I would absolutely agree that upbringing can have a big impact on the initial comfort zone size – the tree climbing example you gave was a perfect one. It reminds me of Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep’s character) from the movie Lemony Snicket!

      But one thing that I would point out is that even though some people might start out with a smaller comfort zone as compared to others, that’s not to say that they can’t increase their comfort zone through purposeful effort. I’d compare it to athleticism – some people are born with more “natural talent” but those born with less athletic ability can often surpass the naturals by putting in the extra effort and time.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post, and especially for sharing your own experiences with us!

  14. Such a well written post and one of my favorite topics! I started trying this whole ‘stepping out of your comfort zone’ thing in 2019. Because of this, I was able to create a blog site and publicly share my writing for the first time in 29 years of life (crazy!), submit an article to a local magazine and get featured as a guest columnist, present one of those articles at a company retreat in France, and those are just to name a few! But your post made me realize I need to stretch even more, so thank you for that reminder. As for the 100 days of rejection, I’m intrigued…maybe one day, I’ll try it out. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Wow, what a fantastic story Angie – that is so much to accomplish in only a years worth of time! So happy for you! I also like that your example of stepping out of the comfort zone is more in the career aspect of your life.

      Looking at people’s comments here I can see that purposefully stepping out of the comfort zone has worked for people in terms of over all self-esteem, in dealing with social anxiety, in their career, and in health and fitness. That’s pretty cool!

      Congrats on all your accomplishments, and thank you for sharing your experience with us! I’m sure there will be a lot more exciting things to come as you continue to challenge your comfort zone.

  15. I love this! I remember learning about Jia Jiang in a performance art class and was really intrigued. Whether you do something that extreme or just pick smaller ways to make yourself uncomfortable, it seems like it’s something you get better at over time. I have this journal called “Do Something that Scares You” and it has little mini-challenges you can do every day to go out of your comfort zone. Your post reminded me of that. 🙂

    1. That journal sounds pretty awesome Amber – what a great idea! I only just learned of Jia Jiang from a book I read called The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau (a really good read BTW). I wish I had learned about him earlier though! I had a lot of friends in the drama department in college and I could definitely see how the Rejection Therapy would be useful in that arena. Thanks so much for stopping by to have a read Amber!

  16. This is great advice. I think a lot of people will set their sights on some wild, out of their comfort zone thing that they would LOVE to do (if there was no chance that they would fail). However, they either talk themselves out of it for fear of failure or they jump in, fall short and use it as an excuse to remain in their comfort zone in the future. The idea of pushing yourself to do a little something each day is a great way to build up your courage and resilience. I’m going to give this a try.

    1. Sounds like a plan Britt! What I think is cool is that the same technique can be applied to goals in all different aspects of life – health and fitness, general self-esteem, career, social situations etc.

      And yes I definitely agree with your point about starting slow and building up. After awhile it really starts to snowball. The more you succeed in those little tasks the more confidence you build. Then with that new found confidence you take on bigger tasks and the cycle repeats!

  17. Loved this post, Clarissa! It’s the first time I’ve heard of rejection therapy, and while it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find me embarking on that path, I think the lesson there is worthy of remembering. I’ve played safe nearly all my life in pretty much everything… but for the last few months, something inside of me is pushing me to expand, to do more… Playing safe all the time just leads to stagnation after a while. I am certainly making the next few months all about pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the post Shirsha! No need to put yourself through the whole rejection therapy to gain the benefits of regularly stepping out of your comfort zone.

      That sounds like a fantastic plan Shirsha! I’m very familiar with that desire for something more. You’ll definitely find that stepping out of your comfort zone will break up the stagnation and I think overall, it’s a decision you’ll be happy you made. You’ve got this! 💪🏼❤️

  18. Fascinating examples for stepping outside the comfort zone. I could see how the rejection therapy would work, but it might be more suited to an extrovert! I also appreciated your break down of a goal into the small steps that help acclimate someone to doing something outside their comfort zone to work towards their goal. Lots of good tips for your case study, Mary. I’d suggest one more – rather than buying a gym membership, first spend a little extra to pay for a few day passes. Once Mary gets in there and finds she enjoys the classes at the gym, she will feel more confident about signing up for a membership.

    1. I’m glad you liked the examples! Rejection therapy is definitely the extreme and it’s really not necessary to take it that far in most cases. But it does make for a very interesting example!

      Yes, I definitely agree that there could be many more steps in Mary’s progression depending on what she needs. Day passes are a great option to try things out. That’s what I love about this technique – it has endless possibilities for customization!

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your ideas with us! ❤️

  19. I think it’s vital for every one’s personal growth to constantly challenge oneself, plus where would the spice of life be if we wouldn’t? The adventurous nature in us is most often suppressed because of daily routine and commitments but even little changes in habits can already have a huge impact. I personally always look to push myself and test out my boundaries, it’s a personality trait that was given naturally to me whereas sometimes when I meet new people they are cautious and also not so much interested in the world around them. So far change has always been positively worked out for me and I stay curious and taking in as many experiences as I can get from life.

    Carolin | Style Lingua

    1. I definitely agree that life would be pretty boring if we never challenged ourselves Carolin! You make a great point about even the littlest changes to routine adding value. Keep pushing those limits and thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!

  20. Stepping out of your comfort zone is so important! A few years ago, I started doing karate. I didn’t even do sports in school, so this was way out of my comfort zone. Fast forward five years and I’m a black belt who teaches the new comers.

    This was a great read, thank you!

    All the best all the way from South Africa, Michelle (michellesclutterbox.com)

    1. That’s fantastic Michelle, what a great story! While stepping out of the comfort zone is hard to do, I’ve found its almost never regretted. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experience with us! ❤️💪🏼

  21. Very great advice. The way this year has been many of us are having to adapt with life with the pandemic not going out as much and haveing to social distance.

    But your right we have to challenge our self to do new things.

    With out the pandemic I would never of started photography or a blog.
    https://www.wattophotos.co.uk/?m=1

    1. Congrats on the new blog and photography hobby, that’s fantastic! This is a perfect example of stepping out of the comfort zone. I hope it brings you plenty of confidence and happiness! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience with us! This pandemic has had a few silver linings!

  22. After falling down, learning to get back up and trying again can be so difficult . I am big on the idea of trying new things, but I love the idea of doing things you think we will get rejected for … the answer is always no, unless you ask.

    1. I like that Monica! The answer is always no unless you ask – so true. And the funny things is that when he was trying to get rejected, occasionally people would unexpectedly say yes! Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the conversation!

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