Fear is a natural and essential part of growth.

We know on an innate level that growth is what life is all about, and when we get out of our comfort zone, we stretch and grow.

Still, most of us would agree that we don’t enjoy being afraid or uncomfortable, even though we appreciate growth.

Our comfort zones are generally reliable places where we can catch our breath in a world that is quickly changing and is often unpredictable. The problem is it’s easy to get stuck there without even realizing what’s really happening.

But understand this…

There are ways to escape the inherent danger of staying locked in your comfort zone. Here are eleven things you can do to break out of your comfort zone and into a life of greater meaning and possibility:

1. Make Snap Decisions

If you tend to overthink your options before you make decisions, it’s time to shake things up.

Start making choices that are unusual for your routine—without weighing your options over and over. These don’t have to be million-dollar or life-or-death decisions. Start with simple things, such as choosing a restaurant, a movie, or new furniture.

Quickly making decisions teaches you to trust both your judgment and your gut.

2. Consider Different Perspectives

Surround yourself with successful people who offer different perspectives on many things. Look at things from their point of view. Being open to other points of view will cause you to re-examine your beliefs.

Also, instead of thinking of an unpleasant experience as a failure, consider it a temporary defeat. Temporary defeats cause us to redirect our energies along a different path. They strengthen us and give us the courage that’s required to stretch ourselves and reach our goals.

3. Say “Yes” More Often

Start saying “yes” to things that will allow you to explore, empower, and applaud your true self. Also, say “yes” more often to having difficult conversations about relationships and situations that are holding you back.

If you have a job, say “yes” to new projects, new assignments, and new roles — even when you think you’re not ready. It opens up tremendous opportunities in your career.

4. Remember Your Greatest Accomplishments

Stepping forward in faith and looking fear in the eye isn’t easy, but it enables us to realize what we are truly made of. Revisiting your greatest successes and accomplishments helps you remember that courage is one of the qualities that got you there.

5. Find A Compelling Reason

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be difficult without a compelling reason to do so. So, take some time to think about what it could be like to take that step.

How will you feel? How will you act? What will others say to you and how will they treat you? Create that image in your mind. Then, focus on that idea long enough to get emotionally involved with it, which will propel you into action.

6. Shake Up Your Routine

Routines are a normal and often helpful part of life. However, they are as much about comfort as they are about efficiency.

Study your daily habits and routines. Then, switch things up in small ways. Choose a new route when you take your daily walk, stop for lunch at different times of the day, and get up 30 minutes earlier each day.

Small shake-ups in your routines lead to meeting new people, seeing different sights, and seeking new experiences. All these things help you expand your comfort zone.

7. Catch Reactive Thoughts And Change Them

Piggyback a new thought pattern onto an automatic, unconscious response. For example, if you’re typically offended by negative feedback, start to associate that feedback with an opportunity to grow.

When your initial reaction is to avoid, reject, or deny feedback or sulk, pause for a second to evaluate. Ask yourself, “How can I grow from this?” Then, listen and realize that the person is handing you a gift for you to grow into your fullest potential.

8. Reframe What It Means To Be Comfortable

Think about what you feel when you’re in your “comfort zone?” Your first thought likely includes words like “safe” and “secure.” But when you go deeper, what else might you feel? Stagnant? Bored? Inflexible?

What if your “comfort zone” was also your “play it small zone” because nothing ever changes or grows? Reframe “comfort” to mean growth or learning and see what changes.

9. Embrace The Idea That You Are Unbreakable

When you’re thinking of making a big move, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Would it be that you’ll lose your job? Or maybe that you could lose everything you have?

Embrace the idea that even the worst that can happen won’t break you. If you lose your job, it would not be the end of the world. If you lost everything, remember that if you created what you had once, so you can do it again.

Then, set that idea aside and put your energy where it belongs—on things going just as you want them to—or even better. Start training yourself to look for the good in everything.

10. Move Toward Your Fears

Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

Indeed, the things we’re afraid to do are often the things that have the greatest potential to expand our lives. Consider that when you feel fear, it may be an indicator that you should move toward it, instead of backing away.

Make a commitment to lean into that idea every day for a week. It might be really uncomfortable at times, but there’s a good chance it will also be responsible for some great memories and a deeper level of personal satisfaction.

11. Act As If You’re The Person You Want To Be

All the pep talks in the world won’t make it easy to step out of your comfort zone. However, starting to see yourself as and acting like the person who you know would have no problem taking this step will help make accomplishing the feat easier.

Do what you really want with your life

Although they might make you feel slightly or even wholly uncomfortable, try these out, one after the other.

This is how you push past your comfort zone and change the paradigm you were raised in. It’s how you dissolve the beliefs you were brought up with and told not to question.

Most importantly, stepping beyond your comfort zone allows you to achieve things that once seemed unreachable and move forward in your life goals, so you can do exactly what you want with your life.

To more and better,