How to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: 3 Helpful Habits

Step out of your comfort zone“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
Brian Tracy

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
John Augustus Shedd

People often get stuck in mostly discussing or reading about making positive changes. Instead of spending that time and effort on actually making the changes they want in life.

Why?

One big reason in my experience is simply that it is uncomfortable to step outside of your own comfort zone.

So what can you do about it?

In this article I’d like to share three habits that have helped me to make it easier to step outside of my own comfort zone and to make real changes in my life.

1. Mix the small things up. Often.

This is an easy to do habit you can use every day if you like.

You can for example:

  • Try new music. Listen to music that you wouldn't usually listen to or have never heard before on Spotify or a similar service.
  • Eat something new. We try to cook from at least one new recipe each week. It often makes for an interesting experience, a tasty treat for the taste buds and has helped us to find many, many new favorites in the past few years.
  • Read something your friends wouldn't guess you would read. It can give you many new ideas and open your mind up to new perspectives.
  • Take another path home. Instead of taking the usual route home from work, school or a friend’s house take another path and see something new even if you are in transport mode.

Mixing things up in these small ways every day or several times a week will help you to change you perception of yourself from someone who likes to stick to the good old comfortable to someone who is curious and likes to try new things out and to step outside the comfort zone quite often.

And the very nice thing about that change is that it make it easier and makes it feel more natural to mix things up in other areas of life and to take steps outside of your comfort zone when it comes to bigger things than what to eat for dinner too.

2. Take small steps forward.

Making big changes can feel so scary that you start to procrastinate and so no action is taken towards what you want.

So instead, take just one small step forward. And if you come up with a small step but it still leads to procrastination then find an even smaller step and take action on that one.

If you want to get into better shape then focus on going out running or lifting weights for just 5 or 10 minutes a week at first.

If you want to improve your social skills then focus on just smiling and being kind towards one or a few people a day. Or simply have one small conversation a day where you are fully listening and focusing on the other person for a few minutes.

If you want to write and start selling your own e-book or course online but it seems daunting then do what I did. Take a smaller step and just create a very short e-book to give a way for free to new subscribers.

Take one small step after another to make the uncomfortable feelings manageable so you can keep moving forward and towards what you want out of life.

3. Bring a friend along.

A friend to keep you accountable to stick with it and to keep going outside of your comfort zone is a great way to make it more likely that the change you want to make will last.

So if you are going to a party where you know few people then it may be easier to bring a friend. Otherwise it may feel so uncomfortable to go that you skip it and spend your evening doing something else.

If you have decided to start going to the gym it is often easier to actually get going and to keep going there every week if you have a gym-partner that will give you a nudge forward on the days when you feel like just staying on the couch and watching TV.

And in my experience, having a friend that also wants to start eating healthier can make it a lot easier to stick with it until the new habit becomes the new normal for you.

Image by Graham (license).

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Thanks Henrik for those great tips on change. I’d like to add the following: Spend some time, quietly reflecting on your life – what would you really, really like to change?

    Make some notes of what you could do on a daily basis to start moving towards that change – simply write down whatever comes to your mind, just let it flow…

    Get excited and passionate about YOUR change and make a firm commitment to take at least a few baby steps every day towards that change.

  • I think your second quotation says it all. We’re built to sail! Very sound counsel that after that it’s just a question of what we need to do to leave the harbour :)

    Thanks!

  • Sheena

    I enjoyed reading this. I have read a lot of self help books over the years, and have made many, many changes in my life, but you have a refreshing way of expressing yourself which makes the ideas seem quite new.

  • Great post, Henrik! I recently discovered that the big step can be so scary that often leads to procrastination. I know he power of baby steps every day but it is still scary sometimes.

    I found out a tactic to reinforce the small step forward rule – if i am dreading a task for a few days or weeks, when i look back and see how i have done nothing about it – i get motivated to do little about it each day, no matter how little. This way, the next time i look back, i will have done MORE than if i had not done anything at all. Ad when i see the task progressing, no matter how slowly – my steps tend to get bigger each day :)

    Thanks for the daily inspiration!

  • We tend to be creatures of comfort. We like the same routines. We like the same food, the same restaurants, and hang out with the same friends. I love your tips here. I’ve been feeling a bit too comfortable lately so it’s time for me to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: do one thing every day that scares you.

  • Loved this post! Good morning read :)

  • Marie

    We wish to send you our deepest Thank You. For the past three years, my husband has been ill, and being positive in the face of uncertainty is quite a challenge. Your messages help us retain hope in ways that others have not.
    We look forward to how we can change our fears as they pass through our thoughts by putting these concepts into our day every day. We can.

  • Paarkhi Parekh

    Beautifully written, I always enjoy reading your articles, Keep writing

  • Jordan

    Hello Henrik,

    Thank you for your blog which I have been receiving for a couple of years now. You write in the first person for the most part and that comes across as sharing instead of telling, which makes a huge difference to me. And I just wanted to thank you very much. I am 61 years old and it sort of tickles me that you are such a young man from whom I am learning to live a more positive life.

    Best regards,
    Jordan

  • Seems some folks are just designed to step out of their comfort zones and grow, whilst others languish in their insanity. Perhaps we’re all just here to wake up to Natural Law and let the chips fall where they may.

  • Virginia Jones

    Great idea!!! The small steps really do help out…i’ve applied it towards eating healthier and recently decided to go back to school and just take one computer class. Not sure if i want to finish up my degree in Architecture, but one Arch class can better my chances of finding different job than the one i loathe so much now in Accounting. You dont have to decide right now to bite into the whole enchilada….just small bites can even help u decide whether to go all the way or not. And if u decide that u dont want to do it (change careers, go back to school, etc.) Then at least u tried it out and can drop it and pursue other new things. Trying new things will leave u with less regret.
    Your advise really makes sense and is do-able!!

  • Ana Dominguez

    This is awesome advice! I can use this advice for any of my still fresh resolutions for this year, like to get more organized, go to the gym, etc.

    Thank you!

  • Margaret

    Thank you, Henrik, for your article. I always look forward to your insights. They often address areas that I am working on. When I retired in September I made a decision to step outside my comfort zone regularly to prevent life from becoming predictable and boring. Thanks for the new ideas!

  • Vijaya Kumar

    Hello Henrik ,

    This really nice article .From this day on wards i’ll start following your articles.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Vijaya Kumar.