“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
I believe that one of the biggest reasons why people get stuck in reading and discussing things instead of taking action to change their lives for the better is simply that it is uncomfortable.
But to make real changes in your life you have to step outside your comfort zone. At least for a little while.
So how can you make that a little bit easier? In this article I’d like to explore a few tips that have helped me.
When you are stuck in a bit of fear, when you get stuck in your comfort zone then you are closed up. You tend to create division in your world and mind. You create barriers between you and other things/people.
Curiosity on the other hand is filled with anticipation and enthusiasm. It opens you up. And when you are open and enthusiastic then you have more fun things to think about than focusing on your fear.
Curiousness also opens you up to gain understanding of something. And with understanding vague, fog-like fears disappear.
The emotions you experience are often a result of what you focus your mind on. Change what you focus on about something and you can change your emotions about that thing.
How do you become more curious? One way is to remember how life has become more fun in the past thanks to your curiosity and to remember all the cool things it helped to discover and experience. And then to work at it. Curiosity is a habit. The more curious you are the more curious you become. And over time it becomes more of a natural part of you.
Develop a habit of mixing things up.
This is related to the previous tip, it’s a way to expand your comfort zone and to keep your curiousness up. I do, for example, try new music every month.
I have a look at the best music on sites like Pitchfork and Metacritic. Then I load a few of those albums on Spotify and listen. You could do the same with food for example and try new things each month.
Such small habits allow you to keep from getting stuck in the same old rut. It allows you to discover a ton of new exciting things. And it’s just plain fun.
Do it in small steps.
What holds us back in our zone of comfort is often a fear or that facing that fear head on might be overwhelming. This is a solution to those two problems. It allows you to stretch your comfort zone and slowly making it less uncomfortable and frightening.
Let’s say you want to be less nervous and awkward in social situations.
To solve that you can take small steps. Steps like first just saying hi to people. And being more involved in conversations at work or in school to exercise your conversation muscles. After a while those things will feel more comfortable. And so you can expand your comfort zone a little bit more.
And so you gradually desensitize yourself to social situations or whatever you are uncomfortable with. You make it the new “normal” for you.
So, identify your problem. Then make a plan with some smaller steps you can take to gradually lessen your discomfort.
Bring a friend.
If you are going to a party where you know few people then it may be easier to bring a friend. If you have decided to start going to the gym it might be easier to actually get going and keeping going there every week if you have a gym-partner.
However, there are potential downsides to bringing friends too. If you are at the party with your friend then you might not meet and get to know that many new people. If you are going to the gym with a partner it might lead to the two of you talking and focusing less on getting a great workout.
Focus on the positive past.
Realise it can be fun to get out of your comfort zone despite what your mind and feelings might be telling you before you get started. Think back to the previous times when you have broken out of your comfort zone. Focus on the positive memories, when you got out there, when you took a chance. And you will probably remember that it wasn’t so bad, it was actually fun and exciting and something new to you.
A lot of times we automatically play back negative experiences – or negative interpretations of events – in our minds before we are about to do something. And we forget about the positive memories and our previous, positive achievements. Avoid that trap. Let the good memories flow through your mind instead.
Read about it.
Your comfort zone might be protecting your from imaginary dangers. Maybe things aren’t as difficult or scary as you imagine? Do a bit of research. Just getting some good information can, in my experience, dissipate quite a bit of your fear and nervousness.
Accept that it will be uncomfortable.
Even if you do the things above it can still be uncomfortable to step out of your comfort zone. If that is the case, accept it. That discomfort will be temporary and you can always take action and just do it even though you may not fully feel like it.
The thing is if you accept that the discomfort is just there then it tends to become smaller or not so significant. If you on the other hand focus on how hard it is, think about it a lot and create all sorts of drama around it then you feed it with more energy and it becomes so uncomfortable that you can become paralysed from taking action.
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