“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’m a big fan of doing the unusual thing. Sometimes in big ways. Often in small and daily ways to mix things up.
Because this habit is a simple and relatively easy way to:
- Expand your comfort zone. And if you change your perspective on yourself from someone who sticks to the old and comfortable all the time to someone who likes to mix things up then it will feel more natural and easier to break out of your comfort zone when comes to bigger things too. Because this habit makes the inner resistance and the fear that may hold you back smaller.
- Add a spark to your day and come alive. It keeps you from getting stuck in the same old daily or weekly rut. And it adds more fun to your life.
- Refuel your curiousness about the world and life. When you do the unusual thing regularly you to discover a ton of new and exciting things. And that will refuel your curiousness about what else is out there that you haven't discovered just yet.
So how do you do the unusual thing and break out of your comfort zone in small and sometimes bigger ways?
Here's 20 ideas that have helped me and still help me to do just that.
- Eat the unusual thing. Instead of choosing the meat-based dish at lunch try the vegetarian alternative. Or try the fish if you usually go for the beef.
- Smile towards everyone. Instead of just going along with your day in your normal social way try smiling more. Smile more towards your co-workers, the lady at the checkout at the supermarket, the people closest to you and smile to yourself when you encounter a mirror. See what happens.
- Cook something new. Each week we try cooking a new recipe. It is most often a tasty experiment and helps us to find, sometimes unexpected, new favorites. It has also certainly made me a better cook in the last few years.
- Mix up your music. I mix things up by trying new music every month. I have a look at the best music on sites like Pitchfork.com and Metacritic.com. Then I load a few of those albums on Spotify and listen.
- Work in complete silence and stillness. Shut the door to your office, shut off your music, unplug the internet and just focus on doing the most important thing you can do today while enjoying the silence.
- Read something that your friends wouldn't guess that you are reading. Doing this has helped me to expand my horizons and learn new skills and many, often unexpected things about the world around me.
- Do all your shopping for the week. Instead of doing grocery shopping when you feel like it or need to, sit down and plan what you will eat and need for a whole week. Go and get all of that at the store. Now you don’t have to go back there for a week and you’ll probably have a bunch of extra free time (and less stress) to enjoy this week.
- Have a day of kindness. Instead of having the usual bursts of irony, sarcasm etc. during your day try to go for a day where you are just being kind and friendly to everyone including yourself.
- Enjoy it all. All fluctuations during your normal day is a part of life and as life it's a gift in some way or another. So on some days I just tell myself: “enjoy it all”. Then I try to enjoy my day no matter if the inbox is overfull, if I’m hungry and starting to get cranky. The things I usually don’t like so much I tell myself to enjoy as a part of life. And so my day actually becomes more enjoyable because much of how we see life is about how we choose to think about it.
- Watch something odd. If you usually watch thrillers then try a romantic comedy. If you most often get stuck with documentaries try an animated movie from Japan (I recommend anything by Hayao Miyazaki). If you love Family Guy, try the Wire. Expand what you watch to get new ideas and impressions.
- Listen to the sound of the world. Leave your portable music player/app at home or shut off and in your pocket. Just listen to sounds of the city, nature and people as you move about during your day.
- Take a day to be offline. I tend to spend a day a week offline (usually Saturday or Sunday). It’s a wonderful change of pace and feels like I’m on a small, healthy and extra relaxing vacation. Plus, it makes it more fun to get back to work on Monday.
- Take a news black out. Instead of reading the paper or watching the news as usual try to go without that for a day. See how it affects you and how much you miss the news.
- Hide a note for a loved one. Hide a sweet note of affection for a partner, family member or a friend in his or her cookie jar, tea or coffee container, book on the nightstand, hat, shoes or somewhere else where they look each day. Make him or her happy in an unexpected and unusual way.
- Take a different route. To work or to school. To your gym or home. See something new even when you are in transport mode.
- Walk or take the bicycle to work. Instead of taking the car or riding the bus as usual. Get some exercise and fresh air before it is time to start working and on your way home.
- Let it go just for today. If you often get into arguments or have trouble letting issues go and replay them over and over in your mind then just for today let it all go. Tomorrow you can take up your old habits just where you left them . But for today, instead of getting into an argument just let it go and walk away. If you replay something in your mind, let it go for today. If an old memory pops up today too, let it go instead of dwelling.
- Go out. If you usually stay in during the weekdays, then call up a few friends and head down to the pub for a few hours even if it’s just a Wednesday. Or call up someone you haven’t met in ages and go for a cup of tea or coffee. Or pop down to the movie theater and catch a movie. If you usually do those things though, consider just staying in with PJs on and taking it easy.
- Sit in a new place. If you have favorite chair or part of the sofa where you always sit then try another chair or place to sit today. It can give you a new perspective at work or at home. And I have found that it can even give me some new and fresh thoughts and perspectives on life.
- Throw out the things you haven’t used in 1 year. Go through one part of your home – a closet, a drawer in your desk or bedroom cabinet – and see what's in there. Go through the items one by one and ask yourself: have I used this item in the past year? If not, give the item(s) away to charity or a friend or simply throw it out.