Stretch Your Comfort Zone

By Ian (DOC) Bartlett


If you are like me then you are most likely aware that we all tend to go through our lives doing what we know, what we are most comfortable with and especially we like to do the things that feel safe. We tend to condition ourselves to this response and are unwilling to step out and take the risk even if that means deferring the achievement of our dreams.

For those of us in the artistic family this can act as a barrier to either improving our art and our ability to grow as an artist.

Dustin Van Wechel ( ), I thought summed it up very nicely, when noted that:

Evolving as an artist (and a person) through new experiences is not about short-term rewards, but rather, long-term growth and betterment.


I was wondering about the cliché (step out of your comfort zone) that is often quoted to encourage people especially artists to try some new and or different. So what is a “comfort zone”?

Well according to Wikipedia

The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk

And then they go on to say

A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. Like inertia, a person who has established a comfort zone in a particular axis of his or her life, will tend to stay within that zone without stepping outside of it.


What do you think? Does this just about describe some of your actions related to art or maybe even to your life and/life style. Are you talking about yourself as being “creatively challenged”?

It so then how about taking the challenge and stepping out of your comfort zone.

A challenge, of course, is a general term referring to things that are imbued with a sense of difficulty and victory.

Are you just sitting back and  letting your life go by just watching others win or create art that you wish you could try and do? This is the time for abandoning your comfort zone; time for you to grow as an artist; time to feel inspired, to be reinvigorated by the excitement that comes from the process of learning.


To step outside your comfort zone, you must experiment with new and different behaviors, and then experience the new and different responses that then occur within your environment.

Change is good. Change is scary. Change is necessary!

Too many of us get in a rut because we simply stop being open and receptive to change. Without change there can be no growth. Without growth we wither.

You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take the risk in order to achieve your dreams.

The first things you will need are:



A good friend

An open mind

You need to make a simple commitment to do something. That something might be:

A course or class that you wanted to take but put it off using a thousand excuses;

A paint media or technique that you have never tried before and that half scares you to death just thinking about it;

Ok, so now you have made the resolve, you have built up the courage to create your dreams and step outside your comfort zone; you have opened your mind to doing something new – opened it to change; now what you need is the support of a friend. Get a good friend to do this with you and together you can put yourselves into a position where you both have to stretch outside your comfort zones.

A caution, however, is in order, because once you force yourself to step outside your comfort zone you may just be forced to expand your consciousness.

So take a breath or hold it if you wish; step outside and let the change begin.  Soon you will be able to tell yourself that:

“Once I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn’t fail. Now I have taking the steps to change and kiss my comfort zone goodbye, closed and locked the door. “

Good luck and let me know what changes you have made and how you have stepped out of your comfort zone.

Published by dustyoldchips

I'm am artist, woodworker, carver and rocking horse craftsman.

2 thoughts on “Stretch Your Comfort Zone

  1. Ian
    That is a great subject, your blog says it so well.
    I enjoy exploring (and learning) new things, I guess it is due to my curiosity
    about the unknown. I find that being in a comfort zone for a few years becomes
    almost boring. The lack of challenges that comes with becoming competent in a
    task or medium brings with it a longing for a new challenge to explore. I feel a
    sense of trepidation, of unease when I learn something new but with that sense
    there is also an exhilaration of the unknown – it is like opening a new door and
    entering a vast room filled with new possibilities waiting to be explored. My
    Curiosity, my longing to learn something new is what carries me forward. I have
    taken workshops where the subject matter or technique were not ones that I would
    have chosen but belonging to a small Folk Art Guild, I took them to help support
    the Guild, and found to my surprise that I did end up really enjoying the medium
    and end product.
    Learning new things keeps the mind young and flexible and allows us to adjust
    more quickly to change when compared to people who have stopped learning.
    I have just posted a picture of a coloured pencil rendition of Radiant Grapes
    (pattern by Nicole Caulfield). This is my second piece done in coloured pencil,
    I did a tree frog with Kathy McCauley at Coast 2 Coast in 2009 and loved the
    I have also gone out of my comfort zone when it comes to work. When my children
    were young, I stayed at home and sewed costumes for the Folk dancers at the
    elementary school my children attended, I also sewed costumes for 2 Hawaiian
    Dance studios, and I fostered newborns that were given up for private adoption
    (104 babies over 10 years) while raising 3 children. I then went into retail (my
    children were getting to University age) withing 1 year I became manager in
    training and then a year later I managed a woman’s clothing store. After doing
    this for 5 years I began to wonder what else I could do and left retail to take
    up bookkeeping which I have done for the last 6 years. In December I left the
    company I was with and I am now working for myself doing bookkeeping for small
    Who knows what I will do next.
    Nicole Dell Aquila
    Scarborough, Ontario

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