Does Stepping Out of a ‘Comfort Zone’ Lead to Greater Success in Life?

It is easy to fall into a routine and be comfortable. If you’re happy with your life and like it the way it is, why take risks, and possibly make it worse, you might ask. Pushing yourself to step out of your comfort zone can do a number of things. It can help you be more productive and it can make it easier to handle unexpected situations that may happen in the future, because you have already pushed your boundaries. Pushing yourself does not have to be extreme, by any means, and everyone has a different level of comfort. It does not mean you should take on a project that you have no background knowledge on, or jump out of a plane (like I did)! It is hypothesized that yes, stepping out of a comfort zone does lead to greater success in life. (Full Media)

Over the summer, I went skydiving as my brother’s eighteenth birthday present. It is easier to step out of your comfort zone with someone else. Initially, I was very nervous, thoughts popped in and out of my head of the sort of things that you hear about happening in movies, but I told myself that would not happen to me, that I was going to do it, and my brother reassured me of that. It was only a few days after that I realized what I had just did. For the hours after it I was still hyped up on adrenaline. In the days following I caught myself thinking of more things I wanted to do, that before skydiving I would not have thought about doing. I jumped out of my comfort zone, quite literally, and realized several benefits. Which posed me to this question.

There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, except when you start to hold yourself back instead of challenging yourself. Challenging yourself can make you achieve goals you never thought you could, thus making you more ‘successful in life’. Psychologists found that a little anxiety can help us preform at your peak. (Gregoire, 2014)

In Sally Eden’s “Out of the Comfort Zone” student’s essays emphasize how being pushed out of their comfort zone forced them to be more proactive, tackle unfamiliar activities, and develop emotionally. It emphasizes the importance of higher education institutions supporting work-based learning outside of the classroom. Likewise, in Brian Starks “Outside the Comfort Zone of the Classroom” he describes a style of learning that takes students out of their comfort zone, and into the real world. It explains how experiences impacted the student’s education, as well as their lives. He hopes to influence teachers to re-think their way of teaching by understanding the importance of service.

Michelle Regalla’s study focused on teachers. She examines the impact of a service-learning trip to Costa Rica for teachers at a small, liberal arts university. Three trips were taken over the summer semesters from 2010 to 2013. The trips were all organized and conducted by the same faculty member. There were a total of 28 teachers, 22 of them enrolled in a Master’s of Arts in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL) program and the other 6 were enrolled in other education programs, including English and elementary education, at either the graduate or undergraduate level. The data includes the teacher’s responses to writing prompts, field notes, and follow-up questions. One shared, “I don’t speak much Spanish so it was uncomfortable being in a room with my host family and not being able to communicate much. But then I remembered that I came on this trip because I needed to get out of my comfort zone!”

In the nursing field, a third-year student recounts an experience that helped her realize her potential and gain confidence. She no longer hides behind senior members or staff, or stays away from any new challenges. Now she embraces them. She said “ Working within my limitations as a student, I recognize my boundaries as well as my capabilities, meaning I was able to deliver safe and effective patient care.” Val Freestone, a nurse for the elder said, “Don’t be frightened to step out of your comfort zone and make a change. It’s about stretching your networks – thinking, ‘Do I need to stay where I am or could I still offer a career to somebody?’ It’s never too late.” “Lilly is the reason I became a nurse,’ Freestone says. ‘She screamed, shouted, punched and bit, all because she was scared. She didn’t know what was going on. But if you could get past that you got such a huge reward because then you could get her to speak to you and respond to reassurance. She’s the reason I do what I do.” She shared this in Daniel Allen’s “Stepping out of the Comfort Zone.”

To research this somewhat open-ended question the researcher would survey a group of participants. The researcher would post a flyer outside of several high schools, colleges, and local libraries, in the general area, to recruit random volunteers. The ideal sample size would be about 200 people ranging in age from 18 to 50, both males and females. The participants would be asked to meet at a community center and plan to spend about 3 hours there, by informed consent. First, the participants would asked to be seated and complete an anonymous paper survey using a pencil. The survey would ask:

  • Have you ever gone out of your comfort zone? Circle Yes or no.
  • If yes, explain an example of a specific time.
  • Would you say the outcome was good or bad? Explain.
  • Would you be likely to do it again, or something similar? Why or why not? Explain.
  • Did you feel more successful, in any aspect, afterwards? Explain.
  • Do you think going out of your comfort zone leads to greater success in life? Circle Yes or no.


  • Circle your age range: 18-28, 29-39, 40-50, 60+
  • Circle your gender: male female

After completion of the survey participants would be asked to pick a card from a box, either picking the number 1 or 2. They would then be assigned to that area. Group 1 would be the control group with the dependent variable and group 2 would be the experimental group with the independent variable. Group 1 would would be shown a slide show with a series of questions. Each number corresponding with a different slide, each shown for three minutes. They would be given a sheet of paper and a pencil with the choices ‘yes’ or ’no’ for them circle in response to the questions projected. The questions would include:

  • Would you take on a work project you had no background knowledge in?
  • Would you go skydiving?
  • Would you eat something from a plate, blindfolded?
  • Would you hike Mount Everest if you could?
  • Would you buy a ‘fixer-upper house” if you were on the market?
  • Would you start up your own company, if you had the background knowledge?

At the same time, in a different area, group 2 would be shown the same slide show of questions but they would be shown an incentive to see if their answer changed. Each slide would be shown for 3 minutes, including the sub slide. The questions would include:

  • Would you take on a work project you had no background knowledge in?
  • What if you were offered a big bonus?
  • Would you go skydiving?
  • What if you were offered $1000 to do it?
  • Would you eat something from a plate, blindfolded?
  • What if you were offered a $200 gift card to the restaurant of your choice if you did it?
  • Would you hike Mount Everest if you could?
  • What if you would become famous, after you did it?
  • Would you buy a ‘fixer-upper house” if you were on the market?
  • What if you were guaranteed to have professionals come in and remodel it, for free?
  • Would you start up your own company, if you had the background knowledge?
  • What if you were told it would be successful?

The data would be analyzed to see if the participants in group 2 answered ‘yes’ more times in response to the questions on the slide show. This would indicate that their response could have either changed when they knew there would be an incentive, or a good outcome.

Some limitations might include the sample size being too small if participants drop out, making it difficult to find significance in the data, or lack of reliable data, meaning untruthful data or data that stands out as an outlier. Some ethical considerations to consider consider are protecting and respecting anonymity and confidentiality

Entrepreneurs require to never give up on their vision or plan. ‘Easy’ is not where success lies. Success means you’ve achieved goals, big or small, and all the ones in between. You must be willing to sometimes take risks, to gradually move yourself in this direction. As a real world example I can use my dad. He was an attorney for a law firm in New York City for several years. At the firm he started to realize he was the ‘mentor’ for the younger, newer, attorneys entering. Except there was just one problem. He felt that he wanted more mentoring, he felt he could become more successful. A few years after that, he decided he wanted to start up his own firm in Morristown, NJ, closer to where our home is. My mom, being the one who keeps my dad on the ground felt excited but nervous. She felt that if my dad was to step out of his comfort zone and do it, she would take some precautions but be a source of motivation too. Now I am proud to say my dad successfully started up his own firm. With his own inner motivation, he pushed his comfort zone, and used the knowledge he had to do something he only dreamed of.

In conclusion, in general, successful people possess some of the same things. Successful people take risks, have a vision, focus on solutions, go above and beyond, and embrace change. If you think about it, every major historical breakthrough is the result of one person taking a risk. This risk was not thoughtless, however. It was evaluated to find the best- case scenario, the worst- case scenario, and the most likely scenario. Weighing your option is very important. Leaving your comfort zone diligently, and ‘being risky’ or reckless, are two different things. Successful people leave their comfort zone by means of reaching higher and higher goals, accomplishments, and overall achievements.

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