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10 Small Things You Can Do To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

10 Small Things You Can Do To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

According to one description, the comfort zone is a “behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk” – the operative words being stress and risk. There is a sense of familiarity, certainty, and security in familiar territory. When we step outside our comfort zone, we are opening ourselves up to the possibility of stress, pain, and even failure. We are in essence taking risk and are not quite sure what will happen and how we will react.

Why then would you want to step outside your comfort zone, you might wonder? Well, the greatest lessons in life are learned by taking risks and branching out of our comfort zones. Most of our greatest achievements and most memorable growth moments in life happen outside our comfort zone. Besides, living outside your comfort zone makes you come alive. It’s exciting and great fun. Besides, what does it profit a man or woman to go through life without having scintillating fun at least once in a while?

Here are 10 things you can do every day to step out of your comfort zone and live your life to the fullest.

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1. List things that scare you the most and do those very things

Make a list of things that scare you the most and do them one by one, day by day. If you fear public speaking’ for example, take lessons and practice speaking in front of people daily. If you fear facing someone who hurt you terribly, go ahead and just face them. If you fear asking your boss for a pay raise, go ahead and just ask them. The worst thing that can happen rarely happens. If the worst actually happens, you’ll discover a power and strength within you that you never knew existed. Imagine what good things would transpire if we would all face our fears instead of running away from them. What would happen? Restored friendships? Better offers? New opportunities? The possibilities are endless. Just face your fears. Do it.

2. Learn a demanding life skill or improve on one

A 2013 study found that learning new and demanding life skills, while also maintaining a strong social network, can help people stay mentally sharp as they get older. So push yourself everyday to keep learning new things and mastering more and more skills. For instance, push yourself to learn how to play different musical instruments or a new computer program that seems daunting to you. It may be challenging to learn (or improve on) a new skill every day especially when we are older. However, it is only when we are confronted with continuous mental challenges that we improve ourselves.

3. Make a new friend or new acquaintance every day

This might seem hard, but making a new friend or new acquaintance daily is not impossible. Just start by saying a simple hello to a new person every day, maybe during your lunch break. You can follow it up with a heartfelt word or two about the weather, the food, or whatever is appropriate at the time. Don’t forget to smile and show genuine concern about that person. Most people are nice and will appreciate authentic human interaction. Who knows, that new friend may turn out to be someone valuable in your life.

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4. Ask someone new to constructively criticize your behavior or work habits

This is another tough one – ask different people to constructively criticize you on a regular basis, if not a daily basis. That’s tough because hearing your faults and shortcomings from others and discovering some of your unconscious habits can be frightening. However, if you have the patience to look at yourself through the eyes of others with no holds barred, you can learn a lot and improve your relationships. The truth really can set you free – free to work on being better and free to forgive yourself for being human. That said, always put yourself first. You’re unique and you don’t always have to conform to get on in this world. Putting others second means giving other people their due respect and not totally ignoring them.

5. Give a total stranger a genuine compliment every day

People love compliments and saying something nice to someone can give them the lift that they needed to feel good about themselves. It’s a wonderful gesture that makes the human experience pleasant. Plus, you’ll also feel good for giving the compliment. Again, don’t forget to flash a warm smile to the “stranger” when complementing them. It may be outside your comfort zone, but it’s totally worth it.

6. Hit the gym and change your physical appearance

Our interior world – our thoughts and beliefs – have a big impact in our lives, but so does our exterior world as reflected in our physical looks and behavioral patterns. Hit the gym daily to get in shape, lose weight, and reinforce your physical image. Get a new style haircut and wear brighter clothing than you have always worn. It may be scary to make these changes at first, but you will send a powerful message to your inner self that you are strong and worthy. A simple makeover can really boost your confidence!

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7. Read literature your friends wouldn’t guess you would read

Some people don’t like to read very much. Don’t be one of those people. Read as much and as widely as you can. That includes reading material that your friends wouldn’t guess you would read. They may laugh at you for doing so, but you will open your mind up to new ideas and new perspectives that will broaden your horizon. Besides, studies show lifelong brain-stimulating activities like reading could help stave off cognitive decline that comes with age, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Unplug from technology for a no-tech day

Let’s be honest – our lives are being completely overrun by technology. We behave like quite the tech addicts. The questions that run in our heads all day are: “What’s in my e-mail?” “What’s going on on Instagram?” “Who has updated their status on Facebook?” This might explain why people are more stressed today than at any other time in history. Shut everything off — the phone, the laptop, the iPad — everything! Truly disconnect from technology and go about your business not connected for a few hours each day. Even if you only unplug some hours before bed, knowing to how sucked in you are to your digital life, do it. You’ll avoid much stress and take control over what consumes your time and attention.

9. Take a short power nap in the afternoon

Napping in the afternoon may sound crazy, especially if no one else around you does it, but it brings hefty dividends. Just 20 minutes of nap time boosts alertness, 30 minutes helps you feel physically recovered and 50 minutes heightens creativity, says Michael Breus, Ph.D., sleep expert and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan. Depriving yourself of adequate rest and sleep because you want to always appear busy at work is bad and doesn’t really help anyone. It actually hampers your productivity.

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10. Purse hobbies that involve physical movement

It can be dancing, jogging, swimming, yoga, or even just walking the dogs. Create time for the things you love that involve physical movement. Over the weekends you can go sky diving or bungee jumping – whatever ticks your fancy. Also, write down all the things you would ultimately like to do in your lifetime like travel to certain places, run a marathon, or ride a zip-line. Start taking appropriate steps every day towards making that major goal a reality. This is a great way to step out of your comfort zone.

Remember, the best predictor of success and achievement is an openness to new experiences, which is characterized by qualities like the drive to explore the world, intellectual curiosity, and fantasy interests.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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