Do you ever feel held back by your fears and limits? Our comfort zones naturally shrink if we don’t stretch them, leaving us feeling unfulfilled. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Small, consistent steps are the key to expanding what you’re capable of over time. In this episode, Adam Hill shares some powerful strategies for how to gradually push yourself outside of your comfort zone in a safe, controlled way.
Learn about the importance of doing something small but uncomfortable every day, creating an “adventure list” of goals, and not overdoing it. Discover how you can apply these principles in your own life to grow in confidence and freedom.
Here are some power takeaways from today’s conversation:
- Expanding your comfort zone for greater freedom
- A personal childhood football experience and personal growth
- Adam’s 80%-5% formula for freedom flow
- Three rules to live by to expand your comfort zone
[02:55] Expanding Your Comfort Zone for Greater Freedom
- In today’s society, our obsession with comfort has resulted in a plethora of luxuries and conveniences that shield us from the fears of our ancestors. While seeking comfort is natural, it becomes problematic when we prioritize it over our growth and new experiences. Similar to a muscle, our comfort zone requires constant expansion. If we avoid pushing its boundaries, it contracts, causing discomfort and limiting our freedom. By embracing the right kind of discomfort, we challenge ourselves and unlock a world of possibilities for growth, learning, and fulfillment.
[12:18] Adam’s 80%-5% Formula for Freedom Flow
- 80% represents the amount of intensity one should constantly use to make continuous growth. This refers to working at about 80% of one’s capacity on a regular basis to build up skills and abilities over time.
- 5% is how much beyond one’s comfort zone one should push at any given time, in order to ensure continuous improvement. This small amount of additional effort or challenge outside one’s normal limits allows for growth without being overwhelming.
Adam suggests only nudging slightly past your comfort zone (the 5%) rather than a major push. This allows you to challenge yourself enough to see progress, while not overdoing it or reinforcing fears. The 80% regular effort also supports continuous satisfaction and motivation. Together, this balanced approach of 80% consistency plus a 5% stretch can help expand what one is capable of gradually over the long term.
[13:49] Three Rules to Live By to Expand Your Comfort Zone
- Try to do something that scares you on a daily basis, even if it’s the same small thing, to build the muscle of facing discomfort regularly. Doing something small but uncomfortable daily helps build your “discomfort muscle” so facing fears gets easier over time. (ex. Taking cold showers, trying a challenging workout, or public speaking)
- Create an “adventure list” of dreams and goals you want to achieve to help guide your progress and give you things to work towards outside your comfort zone. The list should include dreams, aspirations, or experiences that excite you, regardless of any fears involved in achieving them. Reviewing the list quarterly helps you break larger dreams into smaller, more manageable steps you can take in the short term.
- Don’t overdo pushing your limits by taking on too much discomfort at once. Gradually increase challenges in a controlled way without overwhelming yourself. Going too extreme can lead to burnout instead of steady progress, so listen to your body and mind’s signals.
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Simple and Powerful Habits to Safely Expand Your Comfort Zone – YouTube
(00:00) part of my 80% 5% formula for uh freedom and flow it’s where 80% represents the amount of intensity you want to constantly use to to make continuous growth but that 5% is how much beyond your comfort zone you want to push at any given time to make sure you’re making continuous Improvement and that 5% is important because 5% is just enough that you’re not overwhelming yourself with the enormity of your circumstances you’re not you’re not overwhelmed by being in the middle of that Circle of Death and yet you’re
(00:38) still doing enough that you’re getting the satisfaction and fulfillment of continuous growth that continuous satisfaction keeps you going as does the fact that you’re not overwhelming yourself with it hello everyone and welcome to the flow over fear podcast where it is our mission to help you to rise above of fear and realize your ultimate potential in leadership and life I’m your host Adam Hill and it is my goal to share with you the human side of high performance my guests share their experience with fear anxiety struggle
(01:15) Challenge and most importantly despite all of it how they Rose above it to achieve incredible results so if you’re ready to rise up let’s get started hello everyone and welcome to this episode of flow over fear and today on three things I’m going to share some strategies on how you can expand your comfort zone and as you could see behind me I’m expanding my comfort zone a bit today by getting out of my regular studio uh you’ll see that I do not have if you’re watching this on YouTube you can see that I do
(01:51) not have the beautiful uh sign this the flow of or fear sign behind me instead I have a fairly used bed that I have been sleeping in because I am in a hotel room that is right but don’t worry I have not been kicked out by Mrs Flo for fear I am just on a work trip right now and uh so from time to time you’ll see me out and about but do not worry because the quality of these episodes will not go down the quality of this episode will not go down I will still deliver the same value as I always do and uh even
(02:23) more so in this episode because we’re going to be talking a lot about comfort zone and this is something that is pretty near dear to me because I’ve seen both sides of it I’ve been on both sides of that Comfort Spectrum where I’ve desired to stay away from discomfort as much as possible and I have seen the other side of it by wanting to live in a greater discomfort to grow my comfort zone and so I’m going to show share some ways about that um because ultimately if you can expand your comfort zone in a
(02:55) controlled way if you can expand it and make your comfort zone bigger you’re going to find greater freedom in your life and that’s the that’s the deal like there is greater Freedom Beyond fear we tend to think of fear when we experience it as this obstacle that exists in our life it’s an we feel like it’s an obstacle in the way of our goals whether it’s any of the big three non- danger fears that we experience you know self-doubt overwhelm uncertainty those tend to feel like obstacles in the way
(03:25) of our achievement but in reality they’re not obstacles and if we can embrace them if we can use them as signals to grow Beyond them we can get Beyond uh that and find greater freedom in our lives because the more we expand our comfort zone the Freer we become the problem is is that we are so so motivated in this day and age by Comfort I mean but within the last you know few centuries or so we have developed uh significant Comforts within our our lives that evolutionarily speaking a lot of the the a lot of the fears that used
(04:02) to get to us just aren’t really a reality anymore we don’t have to fear the things we feared when we were when we were out in the wilderness you know wandering around we and especially in the first world we don’t experience those danger fears as often and we have a lot of Comforts in our lives we have television we have social networks we have very comfortable Hotel Beds like I have behind me uh we have curtains that are drawn to drown out the light we have have uh food that we enjoy we have the
(04:32) internet all sorts of things that contribute to our comfort it is surrounding us there is no shortage of ways to be comfortable however what that does is that when we when we insist on being comfortable at the expense of the right kind of of discomfort and the right level of discomfort we tend to have that comfort zone that we have tends to compress upon us that’s right if you’re not expanding your comfort zone just like just like any other muscle that you have if you’re not growing your muscles or you’re not
(05:08) working on maintaining the size of your muscles or or or your mus your strength in general you will atrophy and those muscles will decline the same is true for your comfort zone if you are not expanding your comfort zone your comfort zone is compressing upon you and it becomes increasingly painful so that uh if you’re not growing your comfort zone discomfort will find you and when discomfort finds you it usually comes in the form of feeling resentful or feeling unfulfilled or feeling unhappy or feeling more afraid ultimately you
(05:45) become a victim of your circumstances a prisoner to those fears because your comfort zone has compressed so much upon you that life itself becomes uncomfortable simply because you’ve been trying to to avoid discomfort and when that happens you lose your freedom that’s why freedom and and your comfort zone are so intertwined because freedom is this this idea that we’re free is this idea that we have the capability to experience more life in our years that we have that we can experience more and more life and
(06:25) um and we lose that capability we lose that freedom if we’re if we’re seeking Constant Comfort but the right kind of discomfort and I I use that term correctly the right kind of discomfort helps us to expand um our comfort zones and there’s specific ways in which we can do that um and I remember like I remember in my own life there were experiences where I leaned more into Comfort than discomfort and that happened a lot within Sports and it translated into all sorts of different things as well by the way I mean I I I
(06:59) avoid Ed talking to the girls that I liked in high school because well because I was afraid of the fear I I feared the rejection I feared The Sting of rejection and so I stayed in my comfort zone and I avoided talking to them what was the result well the result was frustration disappointment sadness Envy jealousy when I when of course I didn’t get the date with the girl that I liked um because I didn’t try and then I saw those particular girls going out with other guys and it it was it was sad to me but um but that’s that happened
(07:34) simply because I didn’t try because I wasn’t willing to lean into the right kind of discomfort and that was true in sports as well I remember when I played peeee football and I used play with air quotes right um I started playing football when I was probably about eight years old and uh I played for a very short period of time um and the reason I wanted to play was because I really love the idea of of wearing pads I really loved watching football in in uh the professional football in those days like John Elway
(08:06) Roger stabach those guys were you know were just you know Joe Montana it was incredible to watch them and so I wanted to be a part of that I wanted to wear the helmet and the pads and the jerseys and be a part of a team and so I joined peee football I joined the Mission Vio Cowboys and when I joined I was really thrilled to dress up and and do some of the drills but there was always this one drill that I was afraid of I mean I enjoyed playing the sport I mean I enjoyed playing in the games and and doing all that kind of stuff but there
(08:37) was one drill that I dreaded and it it it because it it caused so much fear and so much discomfort in me all of the kids would get in a circle basically surround like this Wide Circle where in the midddle uh uh they the coach would call two of the kids on the team to come out and kind of look at each other and face each other and I call it this I called it The Circle of Death they didn’t the coaches didn’t call it that they called it something else probably the tackle drill or something weird I called it The
(09:11) Circle of Death because that’s what it felt like to me uh as this Circle of Death formed and all of the kids like you know in unison chanted like you know hit hit hit hit these two kids would stare at each other menacingly and then when the coach said go and blew his whistle they charged at each other full speed full force and they hit each other until one of them was tackled and that was the entire drill and there was no other point to this drill other than to torture the poor poor nine-year-old children that were in the middle of the
(09:44) circle well to be fair I think that that that the purpose was to kind of desensitize the kids to getting hit which this was the 80s so we didn’t have a lot of the concussion worries that we have now so probably not the health healthiest thing in the world for kids to do so if I’m being honest I don’t really regret my decision for not wanting to do that or not wanting to qu or or for wanting to quit later but I did it for the wrong reasons and that’s why I’m sharing this story but anyway whenever I had to get whenever my name
(10:17) was called to get into that Circle I was terrified I would get in there and the first couple times I didn’t know what was going to happen so I just went in there ignorance is bliss and then I I kind of jogged at the other kid who came pound barreling after me and he hit me in the chest knocked the wind out of me and I collapsed over just this heap of Terror with no breath to shout my my frightened scaredness and all that kind of stuff um and so whenever I got called in there and it towards the end I would
(10:50) get called in there and I would start crying in front of all of these peeee football kids which as you can imagine they were all very supportive they came over and what asked me if everything was okay and asked me if I needed no they didn’t do that at all they made ridiculous amounts of fun of me because I was crying at a as a football player so needless to say within a couple of weeks I quit football altogether because it was outside of my comfort zone and I remember that decision to quit I was my parents were on the phone with the coach
(11:25) and they asked me if I wanted to quit while I was playing Nintendo while I was playing a video game that was entirely comfortable to me and I said yeah I want to quit I don’t want to go back there I was scared to death again probably the right decision because I have I really football wasn’t my sport it really wasn’t but uh I quit for the wrong reasons and that kind of demonstrates something that like if we if we can learn to lean into discomfort in a healthy way we can actually grow our comfort zone um certainly not to the
(12:00) level of maybe traumatic childhood football experiences but but to to a smaller degree we can we can do that we can actually expand our comfort zones and grow into something that we we do we can uh that we can become I I like to use the rule of 5% and this is part of my 80% 5% formula for uh freedom and flow it’s where 80% represents the amount of intensity you want to constantly use to to make continuous growth but that 5% is how much beyond your comfort zone you want to push at any given time to make sure you’re
(12:38) making continuous Improvement and that 5% is important because 5% is just enough that you’re not overwhelming yourself with the enormity of your circumstances you’re not you’re not overwhelmed by being in the middle of that Circle of Death and yet you’re still doing enough that you’re getting the satisfaction and fulfillment of continuous growth that continuous satisfaction keeps you going as does the fact that you’re not overwhelming yourself with it so there’s really three rules I want to try and
(13:13) live by when I’m expanding my comfort zone and these might apply to you as well uh the first is you should try to just build that muscle on a daily basis try to do something that scares you on a daily basis and this doesn’t mean going out and like doing something ridiculously scary this can be the same thing every day that’s just slightly past your comfort zone again just think 5% something that’s not going to kill you or harm you but is still uncomfortable still is disc it still gives that sense of discomfort and one
(13:46) of the big ways in which I do that every day is a cold shower or a cold bath an ice bath and um and it’s really simple because in Colorado the water gets so cold that it feels wildly uncomfortable it’s like it’s like 50 degrees at at at the highest and then usually gets down to like 40 um in in the middle of winter so I turn that on and I get in a cold shower immediately one of the first things I do in the morning why because I can tell myself in those instances that I can do things that are outside my
(14:17) comfort zone it keeps it first thing in the morning it keeps me going in in that direction of of discomfort it expands my comfort zone it tells my brain that I’m not going to negotiate with it and that it will uh and that that I am going to grow my comfort zone that still to this day and I’ve been doing this for a few years now that the cold shower for a few years now it it uh um that every day it’s not comfortable every day it’s a it’s an uncomfortable thing I every day I don’t want to do it but I do it anyway
(14:49) because it’s something I can control it’s something that’s outside of my comfort zone and it’s something that uh uh that once I do it shows me that I can do things that are uncomfortable it’s not because of any of the proposed health benefits necessarily I don’t I can’t speak to any of those though you know I I can’t speak to any of the idea that it’s going to contribute to uh to weight loss or or mental health or anything like that but I can say that it does it is something that is wildly
(15:21) uncomfortable and something once you do it you push yourself past your comfort zone you can feel happy for yourself and I will say it also gives you a lot of more energy but that’s just one example there are other examples of things that you can do on a daily basis that are uncomfortable that can take you out of your comfort zone and that are safe and that aren’t dangerous like I am not talking about doing things that are dangerous here and I want to really preface that don’t put yourself in danger the point is to push yourself
(15:49) past your comfort zone in a variety of different ways maybe it’s uh um or or in in ways that are safe so maybe it has to do with something um from from a work perspective uh that that you’re pushing yourself past your comfort zone on a proposal that you want to make maybe it’s talking to a new person every day if you have a social uh a social anxiety issue but it’s something small and significant that you could do on a daily basis to build that muscle that is I it’s it’s a great way to expand your
(16:24) comfort zone and it gets back to the idea that that anything that is worth doing is not going to be easy it’s going to be difficult so putting yourself in a situation by asking yourself uh what can I do that’s uncomfortable today how many times can I get rejected today or how many how many how many people can I talk to that that I wouldn’t regularly talk to or how many uh um you know or can I take a cold shower whatever it may be those kinds of things just help us to expand that Comfort comfort zone and it
(16:58) and and it’s good to embrace that discomfort um a lot of people take this to the extreme and and it gets dangerous that’s why you want to just make sure that you’re not going to the extreme you’re just taking you’re you’re just doing what you can to expand your comfort zone today so that’s the first one do something that is uncomfortable every single day um and then the second uh the second one I want to share is is create an adventure list um this is another big one that I that I have I
(17:30) love the idea of dreaming big and and if we can put our dreams out there the things that we want to run toward the the things that that really light us up that fill us up and uh make us want to live this life well then we can then we have something that we’re pursuing and we’re not running away from a lot of times we run away from the discomfort we run away from the things that scare us we run away from certain ideas like I’m afraid of heights so now I’m putting myself in this box that decreases my freedom from
(18:04) all of the things that involve Heights that I cannot do um or I am afraid of Confrontation so I’m going to put myself in this box where I can’t do the things that I want to do with these people that or or I I’ll put myself in situations where I don’t I I can’t do a certain thing or I have to do a certain thing because I don’t want to have a confrontation with this person and so it puts you in that box of less and less freedom and the more boxes you have the more sacred cows you have in your life
(18:35) for things you can’t do because they’re uncomfortable the less Freedom you have so instead create that Adventure list of things that you do want to do what despite the fear regardless of the fears that you have take the fears off the table don’t because the fears are going to be part of it of anything that we do what really lights you up what what do you really want to do you know do you want to go on a a trip to Antarctica do you want to go to a trip or do you want to go to to Europe someday or do you
(19:05) want to do you want to do an Iron Man Triathlon do you want to run a marathon those things some of those things have inherent fears in them some of them have these points of discomfort that you need to immerse yourself in in order to pursue them and defining that list first and foremost actually gives you at least a point of reference for those small uncomfortable things that you can do to build your tolerance and expand your comfort zone and you could start to knock those off every year so if your dream is to be uh be a seven fig speaker
(19:42) say or you you want to speak on stage but you have a fear of public speaking well then you can start to move in that direction by immersing yourself in on that on a daily basis what’s that what’s that uncomfortable thing that you can do today to push you in that direction is it talking to two people is it sharing is it sharing a YouTube video is it doing something that puts you on path in that direction in a small way but that Adventure list gives you a point of reference to actually build into and knock those off and what I love to do
(20:13) with the adventure list is every quarter every 90 days review that Adventure list and decide on at least one that I can that I can try to achieve in that next quarter that way it gives me 90 days to look at how I can achieve that that goal some of them are too big to do in 90 days that’s just going to be a fact of the matter but it also gives you that accountability and that path that you are moving into a life of fulfillment and freedom because you’re pushing yourself in that direction I mean there
(20:43) are there are tons of shows out there that talk about here’s how you here’s how you pursue Financial Freedom and through Financial Freedom you can you can experience lifestyle freedom and you can experience all these things but money’s not the constraint money finances are not the constraint to your best life uh because those formulas are out there readily available to become as wealthy as you want to get you know what’s standing in your way your fear of discomfort your fear of getting outside of your comfort zone so doing
(21:16) the things that will help you get outside of your comfort zone those are the things that are going to lift you up and put you in the direction of fulfillment and greater Freedom that’s how you get there and so focus on that build the adventure list focus on the things that you want to achieve and then put them on a list and then step by step make yourself uncomfortable in the ways that bring you in that direction and the final piece that I will say regarding this the the last one that I want to share um is is going to
(21:49) be a bit counterintuitive uh because we’re hearing I’m you’re hearing me say you know put yourself in uncomfortable situations on a daily basis build your adventure list make yourself uncomfortable lean into that discomfort but my final piece to you is don’t overdo it don’t overdo it and this is one of the reasons why a lot of people avoid discomfort in the first place because they amplify the level of discomfort that they’re going to feel they they go to the worst case scenario have you ever done that where you’ve
(22:18) you’ve avoided something a dream something that you’ve wanted to achieve because you you looked at the worst case scenario the thing that probably would never occur like I don’t want to talk to that girl or that guy that I like because they’re going to make fun of the way I look or or ridicule me on Facebook or laugh in my face that’s like the worst case scenario right is that really going to happen I mean ask yourself that question too as you’re doing it it’s like is that really true but but the truth is is that
(22:50) is is we we put ourselves in in that enormity of that situation because we’re we fear the worst case scenario but we also don’t want to we don’t want to have to overdo it if you’re afraid of heights for example don’t jump in a plane immediately and go skydiving because that’s going to reinforce the uh the fear of the discomfort in the first place sure you may you will survive that that uh that skydiving trip but it will terrify you and when it terrifies you you you you may not you may not um you
(23:28) you may never want to approach any kind of discomfort again on that now there’s a couple ways that could turn out I mean it could desensitize you and you could absolutely love it but you’re rolling the dice so my suggestion to you is that instead of rolling the dice and taking a gamble on your own Adventures um instead you know do it safely one small step at a time don’t overdo it don’t overdo this thing don’t um don’t you don’t need to be a unicorn we have a lot of unicorns um we have a lot of people that are that
(24:00) are doing incredibly difficult challenging things and maybe you maybe you’re one of them and I’m not going to Discount that and um and and but if we if we TR if we look at the thing that we want to achieve and we look at at that that is the mountain let’s just take skydiving as an example say skydiving is something you really want to do but you’re terrified of heights if you immediately jump into a plane and and try or or if you think you need to immediately go into a plane and do that and then you turn your back on it um
(24:32) that’s it’s a bigger hurdle to cross to get in the plane if you have that fear of heights so first just just continuous emersion you know continuous immersion within that like first climb a ladder then then safely you know climb onto a Higher Place go to a high-rise building and stand at the top of that I was recently in a high-rise in Chicago I’m terrified of heights too but I don’t go to a lot of high-rises and I went up to the 48th floor and looked out the window and I was terrified I was weird I was
(25:07) this this weird person that was just like where everybody was standing next to the window and this guy’s apartment and I had to stand off to the side because I just I was I my body would not bring me to the window eventually I got there but you know it’s it’s one of those things you have to just you have to immerse yourself gradually in on that and but but do so in a way that you just don’t just know that you don’t have to overdo it you don’t un discomfort is not something that you have to overdo in
(25:40) order to build that muscle think of it like like a uh um like I can’t I can’t even think of the word I don’t know why I can’t think of the word rubber band Yes think of a rubber band when you expand it too quickly it breaks right you want to just gradually expand it expand that elasticity that’s how you approach it gradually over time don’t overdo it rest frequently rest is best remember and remember remember the 80% 5% rule which I’ve talked about here many times uh you want to slow down and nudge slow down
(26:14) and nudge slow down to your 80% capacity which builds capacity over time and then push and then nudge push past your comfort zone 5% at a time that’s all it takes and if you do that I mean if you can if you can expand your comfort zone in a number of different ways uh small ways you know doesn’t doesn’t take much uh then you will your your life where you are leaning more into discomfort will expand your comfort zone and you’ll find greater Freedom um so it could be so the little things that you can do today if you find
(26:55) an escalator that you are at a store or you’re at the airport or somewhere where they have an escalator maybe if you’re capable walk up or down the escalator to get that extra exercise uh that’s a small way to lean into discomfort instead of letting it carry you um if you happen to go to Disneyland and you don’t need a Rover maybe don’t use the Rover maybe walk around the park or something like that there are numbers of ways in which you small ways in which you could lean into discomfort that will
(27:28) help you grow and if you do that if you can expand your comfort zone gradually as you expand your comfort zone your freedom will grow as well thanks for joining me today we’ll see you next time hey everyone Thanks for tuning in to the flow over fear podcast if you’d like to learn more about getting into flow and learn the foundations of flow I have a free video series on my website at www.
(27:54) adamclick hill.com called the foundations of flow feel free to go there and download it and start your journey to Rising above fear and achieving greater flow in your life if you like this episode and I’m guessing you did if you stuck around for this long then please do me a favor and hit the Subscribe button and you will receive notifications when I have new interviews new Recaps and new trainings that pop up on YouTube thanks again for joining us that