It's easy to get stuck.
Nestle yourself deeper and deeper into that warm, safe and comforting comfort zone.
But if you want to improve your life you'll sooner or later need to step out of that zone. Because it's there you'll find all those new and exciting experiences. Where you'll find freedom from boredom.
Here are 8 ideas that can help you get out of your comfort zone. Some are ways to make the process easier. Some are ways you may not have thought of (or forgotten).
1. Face your fears. But do it in small steps.
This is one of the best ways to overcome fears and get out of your comfort zone. What holds us back in our zone of comfort is often a fear or that facing that fear straight on might be overwhelming. This is a solution to those two problems. It allows you to stretch your comfort zone slowly making it less uncomfortable and frightening.
If you're for instance nervous socially you might not feel able to ask people out on dates right away. The fear of being rejected and that others might think less of you if you get turned down can make many of us feel unable to ask the question.
So you take small steps instead. Steps like first just saying hi to people. Or starting to talk more to people online via forums and Instant Messaging. And then trying to be more involved in conversations at work or in school to exercise your conversation-muscles.
I guess one could say that you gradually de-sensitize yourself to social situations or whatever you are afraid of. Or, seeing it in a more motivating light, that you are building courage and expanding your comfort zone in this part of your life (which is something that often seeps over to other areas of life too.)
So, identify your fear. Then make a plan with some smaller steps you can take to gradually lessen your discomfort.
2. Try something weird.
One obvious way to move out of your comfort zone is to do something new. But a more interesting option might be to think of doing something weird. When you choose something new you may choose something that is line with your personality. So your experiences can become limited. Instead, choose something that's out of character for you. Something that isn't you as you are right now. Something that you – and/or the people close to you – wouldn't think that you would do.
3. Make a new acquaintance.
This will expose your to new experiences, opinions and interests. And it's not just about meeting new people the usual way. Try just picking up a biography about someone you know nothing about. Start reading a book from a writer you haven't read before. Read about a random topic at Wikipedia. Or add an unexpected RSS-feed about something you normally never read about.
4. Take a friend with you.
In general, it's often easier to not go it alone. And this applies to many situations. Including when you are going for the emotional bungee jump that getting out of your comfort zone can be.
I'd say this probably the most popular way to get yourself out of comfort zones. 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.
5. Educate yourself.
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. Getting some good information can dissipate quite a bit of your fear and nervousness.
Do a bit of Googling. Read books and blogs. Ask someone who has been there before. By reading/hearing about what others that have done the same thing you are about to do saw, heard, felt and did you can not only lessen negative feelings but also get some very valuable and practical tips.
6. Awash your mind with positive memories.
Realize 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 it wasn't so bad, it was actually fun and exciting and something new to you.
A lot of times we automatically play back our 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 and let things become easier.
7. Use other methods to pump yourself up.
Besides remembering positive memories, there are a whole bunch of things you can do to pump up your emotional state temporarily. Here is a small list of such tips within in this list:
- Use Music. Listen to uplifting and motivational music.
- Use Your Body. How you use your body affects how you feel. Move in a confident way and you'll soon feel more confident. Move in an excited way and you'll soon feel more excited.
- Use Your Imagination. Close your eyes. Visualize how great everything will unfold. How wonderful and excited you will feel. This is a whole lot more useful than seeing in your mind how everything will turn out badly.
- Use Guided Meditation. I like Talking to Win and Self-Esteem Supercharger by Learning Strategies. They are useful for giving you a positive boost for a couple of days.
- Use Your Breathing. Not exactly a way to pump yourself up but rather to calm yourself down quickly by taking deep belly breaths for 1-2 minutes.