I’ll be the first to admit that stepping out of the comfort zone is incredibly difficult. Perhaps the reason for this is because a person’s comfort zone is expandable, and simply continues to grow. Thinking about it, the edge of a person’s comfort zone is sort of like a carrot on a stick. Once you push the limit of your own zone, the limit expands once more. In essence, this is the reason we should always work toward expanding our comfort zones. As we get more comfortable pushing our own boundaries, we will constantly expose ourselves to new and exciting experiences. You can do this by following these tips.
1. Not calling it a “comfort zone”
A “comfort zone” is really a euphemism for a “rut.” Two years ago, I moved 200 miles away from my friends and family with my girlfriend (who is now my wife!). Literally every step I took for the first few months was a step outside of my comfort zone. Finding a new a job, exploring a new city, paying my own bills. The first year of living on my own was an exercise in experiencing discomfort. However, two years later and all of this is simply status quo for my new life. The experiences that were “new” to me two years ago are now so commonplace that they don’t even excite me anymore. Now I must find different ways to expand my comfort zone (one of them being writing for websites where thousands of people are privy to my inner thoughts). Comfort can be good, but too much of it leads to complacency.
2. Embrace discomfort
Embracing discomfort may sound absolutely ridiculous, but it can lead to exponential growth of your comfort zone. For example, applying and interviewing for your first job is absolutely nerve-wracking. However, avoiding doing so can only result in failure, whereas putting in any sort of effort at least gives you a chance of succeeding. Plus, the more you put yourself out there, the easier it will become. Soon, applying for jobs and being interviewed by potential employers will be less and less intimidating, and you’ll be more confident in your communication skills and your abilities. Being okay with being uncomfortable is the first step toward expanding your comfort zone.
3. Surround yourself with a variety of people
We all have our group of friends we feel most comfortable around. However, as is the theme with this article, what’s comfortable isn’t always what’s best. Hanging out with the same group of people all the time can get pretty stagnant. Meeting new people is the best way to expose yourself to new ideas and new ways of life. This expansion may lead to connections and relationships that will last a lifetime. Of course, you won’t always like the new people you meet, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Finding the good in everyone around you is important, as it guarantees you’ll stay open to new experiences and new perspectives.
4. Be a lifelong learner
It is absolutely shocking how many people stop learning after they graduate from high school or college. So many of us think that because we have a degree, there’s no point in educating ourselves any further. This couldn’t be more untrue. Those that haven’t learned anything new since they were 21 are doomed to the “rut,” in which they go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and repeat for the next 30 years. Learning a new skill is definitely tough, especially when life and the real world get in the way, but it’s important to continue growing in some way or another. Even if the skill you learn won’t benefit your career, it will definitely improve your overall life. Keep trying new things throughout your life; you might even find your true calling.
5. Always stay “on”
Like I said, it’s easy to come home after a rough day at work, turn the TV on, and veg out for the night. It’s easy, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Every waking moment is another chance to excel that you’ll never be able to get back. Don’t wait for new experiences to come to you. Go out and find them! If you have twenty minutes in between work and picking up your children, take the time to read a new recipe, or listen to a podcast on current events, pr study a new language — whatever it is: Do something! Again, the more active you are, the more comfortable you’ll become with being active. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where doing nothing is actually stressful and boring rather than relaxing.
6. Be kind to yourself
A lot of the time (and I’m guilty of this myself), people stay in their comfort zones because they are afraid of a negative reaction to taking a risk. Simply put: They wouldn’t be called “risks” if there wasn’t the chance of failure. However, failure is not a one-and-done occurrence. One failure is simply a bump in the road to success. Be confident in your ability to push past short-comings and continue striving toward your goals. Another thing to think about is the fact that without failure, success wouldn’t feel so amazing. When you succeed at something that you had a chance of failing at, you can be sure that you have truly accomplished a goal.
7. Have faith
Along with having self-confidence, you should also have faith in yourself and the world around you. Trust that if you work hard to push yourself to the extreme, your work will pay off in some way or another. Even if you fall short of a goal, have faith that the experience has taught you something. Perhaps you didn’t get the job you interviewed for, but as long as you didn’t completely bomb out during the interview process, the prospective employer may keep you on their radar for something else in the near future, or may recommend you to another agency or organization. As long as you continue to press forward, have faith that your efforts will only be meaningless if you fail to recognize the meaning in them. As long as you’ve given yourself a purpose, every action you take will bring you one step closer to true success.
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