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7 Ways To Push Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zones

7 Ways To Push Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zones

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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