When you do something, the same thing for days, weeks, months and even years, you can tend to develop a comfort zone. This comfort zone will be where you feel most comfortable embodying your sense of style, and often represents your strongest abilities. While it is good to stay in your comfort zone, it’s probably where you produce your best work, sometimes it good to push yourself outside of that zone.
Experiment with new a style, technique or tool and the outcome may surprise even yourself. It my send you screaming back to your comfort zone, but even then journey should help make you better at what you do.
Your Comfort Zone
Before you can step outside your comfort zone, you need to identify your happy place.
If you’re a designer, review your past designs, perhaps you are using the same palette of colors, the same layout, the same handful of fonts, or maybe its all of these.
As a developer, you may find yourself working in the same programming language or using the same framework for all your projects.
When stepping out of your comfort zone it is best to set specific guidelines for what you’re going to change for your next project. If you don’t you’ll probably find yourself slipping back to what’s comfortable. If you find yourself designing with a particular color palette, make a design without those colors. If your designs are filled with gradients, make a design without any.
Take small steps though, unless you really feel like making a big change, stick to one or two changes in each project, this should allow yourself to remain comfortable, and produce something new and fresh.
It can be a little harder for developers to try something new, project guidelines often dictate what technology you have to use. Even if you can’t change the programming language or framework, maybe you can try a new editor or application. Changing your tools may provide you opportunity to review how you are coding the websites, and boost your productivity.
Personal projects come in handy for exploring new tools and techniques, since they are your projects you are free to use whatever tools and techniques you wish. Even if you can’t actually use a new language or framework, even reading more about them might provide good information that you can apply to your current work.
Commit To Change
You have to open to change for this process to work. If you’re going to run back to your comfort zone at the first sign of trouble you’ll accomplish nothing. Since you’re moving out of normal sphere of operation you will undoubtedly run into problems, but that’s the point, the process of overcoming those problems will lead you to a new place.
If you’re looking to change your design style, perhaps you’ll find new sources of inspiration, new design galleries or blogs to read. Offline too you can change things, maybe watch a television show you don’t normally watch, read a different magazine, or go somewhere new, anything to expand your horizons and experience something new.
Until a few years ago I was strictly a developer, leaving the design to other more artistic people, but I decided to step out of my coding comfort zone and try my hand a designing. My design skills come a long way in that time, with a long way to go. After a little while I noticed that I was using reds a little too much in my designs, so for my next project I forced myself to make a design without any red in it.
I am still a developer though, but even there I try and come out of my comfort zone. I’ve been developing websites in PHP since 2000, but decided it was time to expand my horizons, so last year I started to build websites in Ruby on Rails. My experience with Ruby on Rails led me to try other things in the PHP world and have now started to use KohanaPHP as my framework of choice in my PHP website development projects.
Have you been stuck in the comfort zone? How do you push yourself out of it?