The comfort zone sounds so obvious, but personal development is much more involved. If you want to grow, succeed or do anything new, you need to go outside it.
The comfort zone is in a situation where a person is familiar, at ease and in control. Outside of the comfort zone there is increased anxiety and stress. So, the further out a person gets the greater the level of stress. The easiest definition I have found is from Wikipedia
The most comfortable place in usually not the best for learning or working.
If a person repeatedly leaves the comfort zone and has a successful outcome, they will actually decrease the stress of being outside the zone next time. While that may sound so easy, why do so few really leave the comfort of their familiar surroundings.
The very fact that so few venture out into new paths during their life, is interesting. The very reason this topic seems easy is that everyone thinks they understand it and do know it is crucial. If you ask people, most will say they do venture outside their comfort zone.
So many say they go out of their comfort zone, then why do so many stay in home towns that have no future or jobs they dislike? Why do so many follow the same path as their parents or neighbors? It is the most comfortable of places.
Success, by its very nature, means you have accomplished something. Therefore, success is always outside of the comfort zone. In order to have success, you need to do something new or different. Continual learning means that at least minimally, you constantly feel uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, the further out the greater the stress, anxiety and fear which can hold you back. Repeated success outside the comfort zone will increase confidence. As you increase experience, confidence increases, and these new experiences become part of your larger comfort zone.
Over time, you will grow accustomed to being uncomfortable and continually making progress. It all becomes easier. So, learning begets more learning. Success begets more success. The key is how to get to this point and to recognize the pitfalls and negative pressure from many around you.
Going outside may appear crazy.
On a humorous note, you might say that success is based you intentionally making yourself uncomfortable. You are intentionally outside your comfort zone. So, seemingly this is an almost masochistic behavior subjecting yourself to discomfort. Yet, this is a basic and key ingredient to success. So, if you truly are extremely successful, maybe you have to be a little crazy too.
The concept of the comfort zone is a very useful psychological tool. You can only grow if you step outside your comfort zone. You must be willing to learn new things and skills through new experiences to grow and be successful.
From time to time, you must re-assess and step out to new or revised goals. The process would only stop when you decide you don't want to go any further or want a break on the way your goals.
With greater skills and knowledge opportunities will increase. When your knowledge increases, your ability and opportunities broaden. You will also find it easier to make educated guesses and other ideas that come to mind will also become better. You will be better at evaluation.
It is very common to notice the success of so many immigrants. One of the reasons that many migrants succeed is that they are more willing to make additional trips far outside comfort zone.