“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
Beyond your comfort zone lies what you really want: to grow, change, and live your life with passion. The problem? Getting there requires you to break out of your comfort zone, and going outside your comfort zone is intimidating. As scary as it is, however, pushing through your fear and getting out of your comfort zone is essential for growth. “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
The below guide is a one-week action plan that you can use to break out of your comfort zone. Starting with these small steps will give you the confidence booster you need to eventually take bigger steps out of your comfort zone. By experiencing success with these small action steps, you will rapidly develop the momentum needed to make a breakthrough.
Follow this action plan for the next 7 days and you will be excited to continue stepping out of your comfort zone!Advertising
1. Do a random act of kindness
Is there a better way to start your week by pushing out of your comfort zone to do something kind for a stranger? I think not! Random acts of kindness are awesome. They make another person’s day start off great (and honestly, who doesn’t need a mood booster on Monday morning?). There’s also a benefit to your life. By doing kind hearted things for others and expecting nothing in return (no thanks, no praise, just you quietly doing amazing stuff), you feel great. It’s Monday, grab your caffeine and get out of your bubble… it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and do something thoughtful for a stranger.
Monday’s Breakthrough Tip: Pay for a coffee for the person behind you in line at Starbucks.
2. Startle your taste buds
Coming out of your comfort zone can start in your very own kitchen! You can begin by experimenting with a new spice. Gradually you can progress to trying entirely new foods and perhaps some totally exotic foods. Some you might love, and others not so much, and that’s okay. How will you ever know if you don’t try them? The key is to start playing with different flavors and expand your palate. Instead of mindlessly creating the same boring meals from recipes you’ve used repetitively for years, start experimenting. Try arugula instead of spinach in your salad, mix a new refreshing drink, or buy some cheese you’ve never heard of (black bomber, anyone?).
Tuesday’s Breakthrough Tip: Use a new spice while cooking dinner.Advertising
3. Strike up a conversation
Strike up a conversation with someone you never talk to – either a stranger or an acquaintance. As always, be safe (avoid late-night conversations with strangers in dark alleys). Feeling awkward and not sure what to talk about? Pay them a compliment. Better yet, tell them their kids are super cute. Everyone likes that. You never know who you’ll meet; there are likely a lot of amazing people around you every day. Who knows, maybe the person who sits next to you on the subway every day will become your new friend.
Wednesday’s Breakthrough Tip: Compliment a stranger.
4. Say I love you
How often do we tell our friends and family members how much we love and appreciate them? I’ll give you the answer – not enough. Life is short, and too often it ends abruptly. Even if your family isn’t overly emotional and doesn’t talk about feelings, get out of your comfort zone and tell your loved ones how much you care about them. It doesn’t matter if your words are written in a letter, spoken over the phone, or shared in person. Just get your thoughts out of your head and share them with those who are dearest to you.Tell them how their influence in your life has made you who you are today.
Thursday’s Breakthrough Tip: Send a card to a relative stating why you’re thankful for them.Advertising
5. Take one baby step
According to author Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them.” There are hundreds of millions of people who apparently aspire to write. If you’re one of them, start today by setting tiny goals. If you dream to write a book, write 2 sentences today. If you have different aspirations, take a baby step in a different direction. If you want to go back to school, sign up for one class this semester. If you want to eventually run a marathon, set an initial goal of walking 5 minutes. You just need to start putting one foot in front of the other. Looking ahead at your overall big dream may be overwhelming and far out of your comfort zone; breaking it down into small chunks will significantly decrease the intimidation factor.
Friday’s Breakthrough Tip: Consider a big dream you have that is out of your comfort zone. Break it down. Set a tiny starting goal you know you can accomplish and do it today. Repeat this daily.
6. Scan the ads
Look through the newspaper and your local community education flyer. Are there any upcoming events or classes that picque your interest? Taking a class, even if it’s just a couple hours, can be out of your comfort zone if it’s something completely new to you. By learning a new skill, you just might stumble upon your passion. A friend of mine stepped out of her comfort zone and signed up for a random glass-blowing class a couple years ago, thinking it would be a fun way to kill a few hours. She absolutely loved it. So much, in fact, that she’s considering decreasing her hours in the healthcare field (she has a doctorate degree and an excellent career) to spend more time glass-blowing. She started by returning to the studio to take more classes, then began selling items she created to family and friends, and now her work is being featured in a store front.
Saturday’s Breakthrough Tip: Sign up for a local workshop to learn something new.Advertising
In today’s always “on” society, where we have instant access to all kinds of information, and we’re constantly connected to social media, it can be uncomfortable to turn it off. Yet disconnecting from your phone and internet can spark true connection with others, and give you time to reflect. Many people have a continual “fear of missing out,” and are attached nonstop to electronic devices…but does it really matter if you turn off your social media for a day? Is it seriously important for you to know what your friend from 20 years ago had for breakfast? No, it’s not, but nevertheless, unplugging in today’s world can feel uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone. Developing a habit of unplugging one day per week, as difficult as it can be, can promote mindfulness and true connection with the people who matter most in your life – those that you actually spend time with in real life, not just online.
Sunday’s Breakthrough Tip: Have everyone in your family place his or her phone in a basket on the kitchen counter, where it will stay all day, turned off. Then go out and spend the day doing something fun as a family. Actually talk to each other in the car, and spend time having fun for the sake of having fun. Don’t take pictures with the intent of posting them on social media. Just be.
You’ve done it! You’ve officially survived a full week of spending time out of your comfort zone every day. Way to go!
You will do great things if you continue to have the courage to take bigger and bigger steps out of your comfort zone!
Featured photo credit: Peeking Out/Simon Turkas via flickr.com
Last Updated on May 21, 2019
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:
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.
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.
You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.
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.
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.
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.
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,
“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.
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.
More Articles About Effective Communication
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- 7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace
Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com
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