You live a better life when you open yourself up to learning new skills. But learning can be uncomfortable and overwhelming at times. Find your learning comfort zone and discover how to break through it.
This article explains the different zones you go through when learning a new skill. I’ll also explain how to leave your comfort zone to learn a new skill.
What Is a Learning Comfort Zone?
The idea of learning zones was created by Lev Vygotsky and popularized by Tom Senninger. In the Tom Senninger Learning Zone Model, there are three main zones. But many experts have added a fourth zone, the growth zone. Here's an explanation of each zone.
- Comfort Zone. This is a safe space where you feel in control.
- The Fear Zone is also known as the Panic Zone. Learning more than what you’re comfortable and familiar with becomes very hard to do. In this zone, you lack self-confidence and find excuses.
- Learning Zone. This is where you learn new skills and become comfortable with them. In this Zone, you can face problems and challenges.
- The Growth Zone. This is where you grow and excel. You set new goals and realize your aspirations and dreams.
When leaving your comfort zone, it's necessary to pass through the fear zone. After spending time in the learning zone, you become comfortable with new skills and pass into the growth zone. Remember that your path to the growth zone may have ups and downs.
Comfort Zone vs. Growth Zone
People tend to be satisfied with what they're comfortable with and don’t push past that comfort and seek new skills. This zone is the comfort zone. In this zone, we've got a sense of control and security. But nothing new happens, and there are no challenges in the comfort zone.
The growth zone is a zone where you achieve success. In this zone, you grow to the point where you can achieve your goals. In this zone, you can become more ambitious and create goals that you weren’t previously comfortable with.
The question is, how do you leave your comfort zone to get to the growth zone?
How to Leave Your Comfort Zone
Here are ten tips on how to leave your comfort zone:
1. Find Balance
You shouldn’t be living in your fear zone all the time. This is bad for your mental health and physical health. You should have a regulated pace where you can find the balance between moving out of the comfort zone and going to the fear zone.
You need to trust that you can move past your comfort zone. You may need the guidance and encouragement of a manager or mentor (if you've got a mentor).
If you worry that you may have trouble going back into your comfort zone, you should create a skill or procedure that you're familiar with that'll take you back to your comfort zone. If you've got a mentor, they shouldn’t restrict your learning. They should instead encourage and inspire learning.
2. Fix Your Mindset
Some people have a mindset where they think they've got a set skill set and also a set amount of success they can obtain. This kind of thinking means that they never enter the learning zone. Most people who have this mindset are trapped by fear.
If you've got this mindset, slowly try to step out of your comfort zone. Know that failure is bound to happen, and it’s okay. You can learn from your mistakes and move on.
3. Create a Clear Goal
When you step out of your comfort zone and into the learning zone, you need to know your limits. Take time to evaluate your goals against your limits to make sure you're not setting an unrealistic goal. Limits can include:
- not enough time
- or a variety of other things
Not everyone is the same, so your goal and limits will be different for each person.
Have a defined, clear goal set. If your goal is to learn a specific new skill, then remember that. When stepping into the learning zone, you’ll have some fear. Look at what fears apply to each situation. Then, plan out how you'll get over that fear and continue learning.
To learn more about setting goals, read these articles:
- How to Set (+Reach) Your Personal Goals in Life and Work in 2021Harry Guinness31 Dec 2020
- How to Set Goals With No Room For Excuses in 2021David Masters23 Dec 2020
4. Make Changes to Your Daily Routine
When entering the learning zone, you need to make changes to your daily routine.
For example, if you’re learning a new skill, start with practicing the skill for five minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes over a period of time. When you add learning to your routine, it becomes a more manageable process no matter what you’re learning about.
You’re creating opportunities to change and improve yourself by changing your routine. Plus, by changing a little at a time, you ensure that you’re not overwhelming yourself by taking on too much at once.
5. Learn New Skills
You enter the learning zone when you learn new skills or try new hobbies.
After learning a new skill, you become more confident in your abilities to learn new things to add to the skill you or goal you've completed.
6. Face Your Fear
It can be scary trying new things. You don’t know whether you’ll fail or succeed. It can be embarrassing if you fail. But it’s more beneficial to learn new skills than to give in to your fear.
The first step of overcoming fear is to ask yourself why you’re afraid. Once you know why you’re afraid, you can work past your fears.
Overcoming fear is beneficial. By overcoming fear, you’re learning to trust yourself and take control of your life. When you overcome your fears, you also build your self-esteem.
Another benefit to facing your fear is that you'll become less afraid to try new things. Once you’ve overcome your fear, you’ll be able to learn as many new skills as you want.
7. Use Social Media
Feedback can be important when you’re in the learning zone. So, try posting your process in learning the new skill.
For example, if you’re trying to learn to bake, post the recipes you’re trying on social media. You could even use social media to get advice from people who are more experienced.
Feedback can be important when learning a new skill. But some people feel like they're being attacked when they receive feedback. But Cambridge.org says,
"Yet feedback is not criticism, it is a supportive act intended to deal with under-performance in a constructive way and to develop performance to a higher level. The language which we use is important here; not, ‘You didn’t do …’ but rather ‘If you had done xxx, it would have …’ or ‘The customer wasn’t very happy. What else do you think you could have done?”
8. Find a Mentor
The learning zone can be challenging and daunting. So, it can be helpful to find a mentor to help with any problems you may have. Since a mentor would’ve gone through similar struggles to learn the skill, they can give you advice when needed. Not only can they provide you with advice, but they can also encourage you.
Mentors can help you set effective goals as well as hold you accountable by tracking your progress together This can cause you to become more motivated to reach your goals. Mentors can also help you make connections that could help you achieve your goal.
For example, if you're learning to lift weights but you don’t know anything about it. If you've got a mentor, they can introduce you to a personal trainer who would help you learn how to lift weights safely.
Discover how to find a mentor in this tutorial:
9. Be Comfortable With the Uncomfortable
Being in the learning zone can be uncomfortable because you don’t know everything about the skill you’re trying to learn. It’s okay to be a little uncomfortable. It’s natural. But running away from discomfort will stop you from improving your life.
10. Small Steps Towards Your Goal
Since it can be hard leaving the learning zone and entering the growth zone, consider creating small goals. When you accomplish goals, this can boost your confidence and motivate you. So, don’t try to create huge goals that'll overwhelm you and unmotivate you.
For example, if you want to learn how to bake a wedding cake but have never baked a cake before. Start by making a small simple cake and mastering that. Then, you can move towards making a wedding cake.
Consistency and practice are the keys to success, and through practicing your new skill and creating small goals, you’re setting yourself up for success. Small goals are realistic, easily achievable, and just a small part of the bigger goal.
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Start Learning a New Skill Today!
It’s not always easy to take that first step towards learning a new skill. But it’s beneficial and vital to learn new skills and seize new opportunities when they appear. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone. If you're staying in your comfort zone, you won’t personally grow. Start by taking the step to leave your comfort zone and enter the learning zone.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published in March 2022. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.