Why you should leave your comfort zone

January 16, 2021
Personal Growth

When did you last learn something new? I mean really learn it, in a way that makes your brain hurt like it did at school? I realised last year that I hadn't had that feeling (aside from when I'm staring at an Excel sheet desperately trying to work out which formula is throwing it all off!) in ages and I missed it. That's not to say everything was too easy for me, far from it, just that there was something missing.

I've always been "languages and humanities", so I decided to I set myself a stretch target, something that would take me out of my comfort zone. I decided I wanted to learn webdesign and how to code.

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Aside from the fact that I now have a new skill, and something tangible to show for it, stepping out of my comfort zone and learning something new has been invaluable. I realised that comfort zones aren't rigid, they can shape shift and include something that had previously seemed out of reach.

Here are my three main takeaways:

1. Stepping out of your comfort zone teaches you not to fear failure.

When you do something different or something that scares you, you open yourself up to new experiences. You also put yourself in a position where you could fail. I'll be the first to admit that I don't like failing but pushing through to the other side of it is the most valuable thing you can do. For example, I figured out pretty early on that I wasn't "built" for Python or JavaScript, something just didn't click. I was frustrated - "why can't I do it?!" - but it only made me more determined to become better at the languages that I do understand. Being able to say to yourself "you tried that, it didn't work, let's move on to the next thing" is a bit like exercising a muscle: you learn to be okay with something small not going to plan so that when something big goes wrong, you have the tools to deal with it.

2. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the ultimate confidence boost.

Learning to code is hard. Like headbanging-against-a-wall hard. For every step forward I felt like I was taking three back and some of the exercises made me want to throw my laptop out of my 33rd floor window. But the sense of achievement after nailing a particularly tricky line of code? I cheer every time. Knowing that I can do something I'd previously found so difficult is empowering.

3. Stepping out of your comfort zone makes you better at your job.

By purposefully putting yourself in a position where you can learn something new, you're also improving your primary skill set. Web design might not be directly relevant to my role as an EA but it has taught me elements of design that I can transfer to presentations and any other collateral I create. Strangely enough the logic and mechanics of HTML and CSS also mean that Excel formulas are no longer something to learn by rote, they now click in a different way.

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