Going outside your comfort zone is a part of learning and growing, whether you’re advancing in your job or career, or achieving personal or professional goals.
Stretching your boundaries is important, but is it always necessary in order to be successful? According to Andy Molinsky, Professor at the Brandeis International Business School, the answer is a big NO.
However, in order to figure out whether staying in your comfort zone is sensible or just rationalization, you need to ask yourself a series of questions.
Have you prepared well enough?
Whether you’re giving a keynote address or speaking up in a meeting, the last thing you want to do is fumble over your words.
If you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, you must be prepared in order to have a good chance at success. Of course, you can never fully prepare for something you’ve not done before, but you definitely don’t want to wing it.
You should ask yourself questions like:
- Have you studied how to be successful in this situation?
- Have you learned and watched from others?
- Have you practiced in less-consequential versions of the situation?
Learning to act outside your comfort zone is a skill. So if you find you’re unprepared, it’s best to wait until you face a situation when you’re ready.
Is the situation in question something you actually care about?
So, maybe giving public speeches isn’t an important part of your job. That’s fine.
There are many situations in life that are outside your comfort levels that are unimportant. Not everyone is destined to stretch themselves in every way possible and aren’t even interested in trying, and that’s okay.
However, it’s important to think about and be sure that having no interest isn’t simply an excuse for not wanting to try something new.
Is this the right time?
Sometimes wanting to learn the skill or do the behavior just isn’t enough; it has to be the right time.
For instance, you may want to enhance your pitching and promoting skills, but you simply can’t devote enough time to that single task. You have to consider your current responsibilities and position before you prepare to branch out.
It can be difficult to leave your comfort zone, and for good reason; that’s where you’re secure, and it feels natural. If you’re not ready to go outside your comfort zone, you will always get another chance in the future.
Perhaps it’s best to wait for the right time so you’re fully prepared for the next opportunity to shine.
For more ideas and details on this topic, keep a lookout for Andy’s upcoming book – Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge , and Build Confidence.