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These 10 Things Will Happen When You Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

These 10 Things Will Happen When You Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

The comfort zone. That safe place that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s comforting, it’s familiar and it’s somewhere that the majority of human beings choose to place themselves. But in choosing to loiter within this zone for a large portion of our lives, we are effectively robbing ourselves of spontaneity, excitement, and–most importantly–we are denying ourselves the opportunity to follow our dreams. Here are ten reasons why placing a foothold outside of your comfort zone could be the singularly most important thing that you can do for yourself:

1. You’ll learn how routine can rob you of spontaneity

We all have a routine of some sort, whether it’s adapting your life to the demands and confines of a 9-5 lifestyle or molding your life around the daily demands of your family. The question we have to ask ourselves is are we slaves to our routines? Some level of routine is necessary in life and can keep us safe from the swirl of chaos. However, in allowing ourselves to be slaves to our routines, we effectively close the door on spontaneity and excitement. After all, if we do what we always did, we’ll get what we always got.

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2. You’ll open yourself up to new and exciting opportunities

By stepping outside of your comfort zone, you step into the unknown. This can be scary but it’s really where the magic happens. Think about the last fun and spontaneous adventure that happened to you. You didn’t see it coming, but when it arrived it’s likely that it thrilled you to some extent. When we simply let go and try new things we open ourselves up to new opportunities we had no idea even existed.

3. You’ll discover a reservoir of inner strength

Nobody likes feeling uncomfortable, but sometimes in life it is necessary. People often say after they experience something that they were afraid to try that they didn’t know they had it in them. When we push ourselves into unfamiliar territory we tend to learn the most about ourselves. We learn that we are stronger and infinitely more capable than we ever imagined and when we get this memo it can fill us with an unshakeable confidence.

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4. You’ll learn that dreams can become a reality

We all remember the dreams we had as children, but far too often these dreams fade into the background as we mature and the realities of life take over. Oftentimes these dreams can seem outlandish in the harsh light of day, but it’s important to know that these dreams are simply the kernels of our desire. A spark, an idea. Yet if we choose to step out of our own way and begin to take a footstep in the direction of these dreams, we begin to see that we can make them a reality.

5. You’ll learn to conquer your fears

Taking any type of risk in life is scary. Since the world outside your comfort zone is effectively an unknown quantity, stepping outside of it can feel a little jarring at first. Think about the last thing you did that scared you, whether public speaking, starting a new hobby or traveling the world. Then think about how this made you feel afterwards, perhaps the word euphoria comes to mind. When we do something that scares us, we learn that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

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6. You’ll wonder why it took so long to make the leap

Stepping into new territory–whether starting a new business, quitting your job or ending a relationship–can feel strange initially. You might feel vulnerable or insecure. However once these jitters wear off and you begin to hit your stride you might start to question why on earth it took you so long. Much like riding a rollercoaster, the anticipation can oftentimes be worse than the actual ride.

7. You’ll no longer tolerate the status quo

Once you decide to step out of your comfort zone, there’s usually no stepping back. The fears and anxieties that seemed so debilitating bubbling around the confines of your brain don’t seem quite so scary when they are realized. You might even ask yourself what you were so afraid of in the first place. Your old way of life won’t seem quite so appealing once you’ve faced your fears and you may make a commitment to yourself never to play small again.

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8. You’ll learn to rock the boat, and like it

When you take chances in life and push yourself in a new direction, certain people in your life might not like it. In busting out of your zone, it can reflect back on others that they are unhappy with their lives yet unwilling to change it. Rather than take accountability for this, some people might become angry, hurt or confused by your actions. Misery loves company and if you decide you don’t want to be miserable anymore you might think twice about maintaining relationships with those that don’t support your dreams.

9. You’ll welcome new people and experiences into your life

In pushing out of your comfort zone, you open yourself up to new experiences and new people. When you stay stuck or actively control all aspects of your life to make yourself feel safe, you are effectively closing the door on new opportunities. Even by taking small steps, such as joining a book club or signing up to a new gym, you open yourself up to the path of possibility. That new gym buddy could turn into one of your best friends who brings a fresh perspective on life that gives you the courage to take even bigger steps in life.

10. Your life will change

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. Stepping into new possibilities requires trusting that things will work out for your highest good. However big or small the steps you choose to take, one thing is certain, your life will change. To quote Neale Donald Walsh, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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