A stack of cookies next to a glass of milk
A stack of cookies next to a glass of milk
#comfortzone #creativity

You Comfortable? Good, Now Get Uncomfortable and Get Creative

Paul Kiernan

A comfort zone is a unique place, depending on the individual. We all have a comfort zone, but each person’s comfort zone is particular to them. In general, the comfort zone is where a person feels ultimately at ease and knows they are far from any danger or mistakes; in that, people find comfort, and thus their comfort zone.

What is the comfort zone, and why do we want to spend so much time in it? What gives us comfort? We take comfort in and from; what is it that we seek comfort from when trying to get creative?

A comfort zone is a unique place, depending on the individual. We all have a comfort zone, but each person’s comfort zone is particular to them. In general, the comfort zone is where a person feels ultimately at ease and knows they are far from any danger or mistakes; in that, people find comfort, and thus their comfort zone.

There is nothing wrong with having a comfort zone and spending time in it—no reason to feel guilty about dropping into a safe zone to regain peace and sanity. The trouble arises when you overstay your time in your comfort zone and decide this is good; I like safe, I like no risks, and I will now live in my comfort zone.

For creative types, especially entrepreneurs, sitting too long in their comfort zone is dangerous and soul-killing. Overstaying your time in your comfort zone also destroys the drive and the creative impulse. Though it feels warm and cozy, it’s easy to choose safe and familiar, but here are a few reasons why staying in your comfort zone is deadly.

No Real Self Discovery

We love to do the things we’re good at; we feel strong, valuable, and secure when we can strut our stuff. Problems arise when you decide only to do the things you’re good at all times. Why? You never learn what else you’re good at or where your other strengths lie.

The moment you step out of your comfort zone, you’re forced to reach deep into your tool bag and employ tools you may not have known you had in there. Stepping away from the known, the usual, you discover strengths, ideas, and solutions that you wouldn’t have before because now you’re in a world where the routine, the familiar, just isn't going to get it done. Although this may sound terrifying, it’s really, really good.

We, as humans, are ever-evolving. We are not the same today as we were yesterday. It’s subtle; we’re not saying you wake up one day and discover you’re a completely different person, but what you learned yesterday affects who you are today. When you live in your comfort zone, you’re not giving yourself the chance to grow or evolve. Part of that growth and evolution is discovering things you didn’t know about yourself.

Stepping out of your comfort zone means stepping into a world of possibility that you’ve left untapped by opting to remain safe and comfortable. For creatives and entrepreneurs, this is death.

In order to create, innovate and lead, you’ve got to know all facets of yourself, be open to self-discovery, and be willing to embrace new discoveries all the time. None of that can be done from the comfort zone.

You’ve Already Learned What You Can in Your Comfort Zone

A barefoot man seated in a chair with an open book on his head surrounded by flying papers

One of the things about the comfort zone is you know what’s going to happen next. You know how Bob is going to react to a joke. You know how Cindy will say good morning or what she will say about the news. You know everything, all the time. There are no surprises, and there are no chances for mistakes. Yay, right?

What if Darwin decided that getting on The Beagle was too much, and he decided to just look at his own backyard instead of schlepping off to the Galapagos? His “Origins of the Species” would be very different and probably very wrong. But he would be safe in his little garden and his comfort zone.

If you never leave your comfort zone, you never give yourself the chance to learn. True, you will probably make some mistakes, which never happens in our comfort zone, but our best discoveries often come from our failures or mistakes. Leaving the comfort zone means mistakes, but that also means growth, self-discovery, and new skills and ideas.

Your Routine is Promoting Laziness

Your comfort zone is, by definition, comforting. You are superhuman, flawless, and infallible in your comfort zone. You are also very lazy or building the strong potential to be so.

When people sink into the comfort of this zone, they quickly become content, and when one is content, the drive slowly, steadily slips into the annals of history. All those goals you once had become distant wishes, and you become one with the rut and see no reason to get out of it because you know it so well, and it fits you now like a nicely tailored suit.

That content can easily trend toward laziness; once that happens, your creative drive and entrepreneurial goals all fall by the wayside. Why bother taking risks or trying new things when you’re comfortable, and you know the routine? It all becomes mechanical and thoughtless. The literal definition of thoughtless, you no longer need to think because you know exactly what the routine is.

For creatives and entrepreneurs getting out of their comfort zone, challenging themselves, taking risks, failing, getting up, and trying again gives you an edge and allows you to continue moving forward, growing, and evolving in your fields. The routine must be broken for any serious new discoveries to have a chance.

You are Unique, But in Your Comfort Zone, You are a Cog

You are an individual, you are unique, and you have ideas, views, suggestions, and solutions to offer from a unique vantage point. These are the things that make you stand out as an individual. These are the characteristics that will allow you to make your mark. There is only one of you, and that should be something you take advantage of to the fullest.

When you allow yourself to live in your comfort zone, what is unique about you disappears. You are just another one of the crowd, a cog in the wheel with no unique qualities or interesting ideas. Living in your comfort zone means sacrificing risk and your potential to shale up the world. It’s safe, sure, and comfortable, but it’s not moving your forward or allowing you to stand out.

5 Ways to Discomfit Your Life

A blue house hanging over the end of a cliff

Basically, your comfort zone is holding you back, and without being too dramatic, your comfort zone is the most dangerous place on earth for you as a creative and an entrepreneur. But getting out of it can seem impossible; after all, it’s so damn comfortable!

Getting out of your comfort zone will not be a breeze; it will require some risk, failure, and uncertainty. Despite all that, it will be worth it, and you will see, feel and understand why it is worth it very quickly.

Here are five quick actions to drive you out of your comfort zone and into a more creative, energized living zone.

Pick a fear and face it

This may seem jarring, but it will quickly snap you out of that comfort zone. Pick something you fear; we don’t recommend this being the fear of death. If you fear heights, go high. Water, go swimming. Speaking in front of a crowd, give a lecture, or do an open mic night. The point is to take a situation where you would typically say, “I could never do that; I’d feel uncomfortable,” and do it.

Why? Because the first thing you’ll notice is you didn’t die. The next thing you’ll realize is, wow, you did that thing you’re afraid of; I wonder what else I can conquer? And then you’ll be motivated to go after another fear and then another and another. Don’t worry that you’ll run out of fears; there’s plenty to go around; you may not conquer every fear, but those fears will benign to seem less insurmountable, and you’ll feel and see changes in yourself and your life once you understand the power you have to achieve,

You’ve always wanted to do that, so do it

How often have you said, “I have always wanted to …” and never followed through? If it’s veen once, that’s too many times. Stop asking for permission; that’s comfort zone thinking. If you’ve always wanted to do something, then do it. Just jump in and do it. That’ll get you out of your comfort zone quickly enough.


Go somewhere you don’t know the language, the customs, the food, the money, whatever it takes; just go someplace new and different. See what life is like when you're navigating a menu in a language you don’t understand. Drop yourself into an unfamiliar culture. What will you do when all the usual tools just don’t work? You won’t die, but you will discover much about yourself and the world around you. Travel pulls you out of your comfort zone.

Take a class

Take a class, and start from scratch on something you know nothing about. Be the new person, be a student and just allow yourself to learn instead of doing only what you know. It can be anything, a new language, a cooking class, or even something in your field that you don’t know anything about. Stop knowing exactly what is going on and start fresh.

Turn your routine upside down

A man walking down a wet street his reflection in the wet stones makes him appear upside down

You’d be amazed a how changing even the smallest part of your routine will wake you up from the comfort slumber you’ve fallen into. So, change it up. Simple things, such as if you’re right-handed, brush your teeth with your left hand. If you drive to work, take public transportation. If you always go to your favorite place for lunch, go somewhere else. Start small and then expand. Just stop falling into a routine. Routines require no thought, so they produce no excitement, discovery, or growth.

Stop Waiting for Permission

Those who dwell in the comfort zone with you are not going to give you permission to leave or even encourage you to do so. If they admit the need to get out, they have to act as well, and most don’t want to.

Stop waiting for the go or some undefinable sign; it will not happen. You must seize opportunities and make the changes to get out of your comfort zone.

It’s not easy, it just isn’t, but once you move the last box out of the old comfort zone and start living in the life zone, you’ll wonder why it took you so long, and it will be worth it.