Susan Manning
4 min readMay 31, 2022

The Importance of Venturing Out of your Comfort Zone

Take a moment and think back on the past few months. When was the last time you can remember saying ‘Yes’ to something you were afraid of? Whether it may be riding a roller coaster or accepting a new project or promotion at work.

Last Thursday evening I went to a book launch on my own, I knew no one there except the author who I had met a couple of times in the virtual world. After the initial walking through the door to a room full of strangers, I am proud to say I really enjoyed the event. On my drive to the event while sitting in busy traffic, I did think to myself why am I doing this? Why am I not at home and staying within my comfort zone?

As a HR Professional, I know you are a competent, capable team player who can be trusted to carry out your duties effectively, efficiently and to a high standard. While these are all great qualities, they can lead you to stagnate if you are not careful.

Years of time spent in a current role can pass you by and before you know it you have been there for a longer time period than you expected to be or more importantly should be. Personal and professional growth may falter, and you become stuck in your own comfort zone!

The comfort zone is described as ‘The areas in life or work where a person feels at ease’. Circumstances are familiar and you feel safe in your comfort zone, often you are not struggling with anxiety or stress, because you are in control.

Sometimes the comfort zone may not be a bad place to be in. It can allow for high performance and strong productivity and it can be where you can shine and demonstrate your capability.

However, at the same time, staying within your comfort zone all the time is not good either. An important part of improving yourself and extending your abilities is taking on difficult, unfamiliar challenges.

Does your workday drag? Do you start clock watching at 9.35am? Is getting to lunchtime the only thing that motivates you so you can leave your desk? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may be suffering from “rust out” stress.

‘Rust Out’ stress is a term used to describe the symptoms arising from a role that leaves you feeling apathetic. It may be caused by a boring job that leaves you restless, unhappy and stuck in a rut. Or a role that you have been doing for so long that nothing feels new or different for you.

This can result in a lack of creativity or new ways of thinking. Your productivity slows, mistakes increase, and the quality of your work suffers.

Research by occupational psychologist Dr Sandi Mann, found that a third of British workers find their jobs boring. Worse still, Mann believes that the harm caused by boredom may exceed that caused by overwork.

Unchecked rust can lead to depression and in some cases physical symptoms can appear

One very easy way to move out of the ‘rust out’ zone is to do something that is going to challenge you or energise you. As implied by the term itself, getting out of your comfort zone means experiencing some discomfort.

Be honest with yourself and reflect on your current position in your comfort zone

If your work has almost seemed too easy recently, then that’s a strong indicator that you have been spending too much time in your comfort zone. Boredom and the sense that your work is unsatisfying is another sign.

Encountering a big, unfamiliar challenge may not exactly be enjoyable but it can greatly increase your productivity, creativity, and ability to cope with change.

Stepping out of your comfort zone and doing things that give you a healthy amount of anxiety will give you a new energy for life and your current role.

Here are some ideas to help you break free from your comfort zone at work

Ask for something new

One of the quickest ways is to take on a new responsibility. The goal is not to pack more work into your already busy schedule, but to allow a new challenge to break your routine just enough that you are stretched to think and act differently than before.

How can you get involved in something new? If there is nothing new happening, can you create a new initiative for your team, department or company? I believe there are always ways to make an impact and introduce a new initiative, just sometimes you need to be creative with your thinking, especially if you don’t have the support of your manager.

Be honest with yourself

Sometimes people remain in their comfort zone because it prevents them from having to engage in activities they find scary or intimidating.

Be honest and ask yourself what is holding you back? If you have not applied for a job promotion because you feel that you don’t have the right skills or competencies ask yourself is that the truth? More importantly, how do you know it is the truth! Are you afraid that if you got the promotion or new role you will fail?

Once you know what is holding you back, you can address your fears and it is so much easier to overcome them when you have articulated them.

Learn something new

No matter what type of role you are doing there is always an opportunity to learn something new. Maybe that is a new technology, a new skill, a new way of doing something, or even something creative that has nothing to do with your current role but will give you the energy and motivation you need to learn.

Learning something new will exercise your brain, which can help improve cognitive functions such as concentration, attention to detail, memory recall and problem solving.

Susan Manning

Leadership Consultant and Clarity Coach — Providing essential CLARITY for greater effectiveness in a chaotic world.