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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 November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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