You’ve seen inspirational quotes that encourage you to get out and do something strange—something you wouldn’t normally do—but getting out of your routine just takes so much work. There’s actually a lot of science that explains why it’s so hard to break out of your comfort zone, and why it’s good for you when you do it. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and do great things!
The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step. In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.
“In theory, all you need to do is to take the first step. It will be difficult. The first day at the gym is the worst. The opening line of your story takes the longest time. But as you gain momentum, it is easier to keep moving.” – Deepak Mehta
Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear. How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific. Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks? Or, are you afraid of being ignored?
Face a fear that you have – Do you have a fear that’s been hanging around awhile? It comes to mind and then it goes dormant for lack of pushing yourself? Many people fear public speaking. Maybe it’s asking for a raise or forgiving someone who has hurt you. Think of that one fear that may be holding you back from your potential and set a goal to tackle it in the next three months. When you achieve that fear, reward yourself for your victory and for improving yourself.
Make a bold move towards a goal – Sometimes we just need to throw our hats over the wall and take a big risk for big rewards. For example, many people dream to leave their corporate jobs to pursue a hobby that has been a passion and they just need to figure out how to make it happen. The first step is to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal, a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited. Here is an example: I will leave my corporate job by September 1, 2018 to pursue a freelance writing career. Just make sure the goal is realistic and achievable within the timeframe you set. Then create a plan with action steps. Now take one small action everyday towards your goal, or at least once a week. Before long, you will have made real progress and feel good about yourself too.
Change your mindset – Changing our thoughts can help us move in the direction we want. This takes mental stamina and discipline. A helpful way to start retraining your mind is by creating affirmations having to do with what you desire and/or whom you want to become and say them every day. Eventually these affirmations will become a part of your belief system.
Do some research to get more information – You might be shying away from trying this new activity because you feel like you’re facing a big question mark. To answer all your lingering questions, go online and read about it. Look for reputable information that can help you feel more knowledgeable and prepared.
- Try for .gov, .org, or .edu websites when you can. Otherwise, be sure to avoid sites with misspellings or formatting problems.
- The Internet can sometimes be overwhelming. While it’s a great idea to be more informed, don’t dig so deep that you start scaring yourself with scenarios that are unlikely to happen to you.
- For example, perhaps you’re thinking about moving to a New York City for a promotion, but you’ve never lived in a city before. Read everything you can about New York to learn how to live there safely and happily. You can find the best neighborhoods for your personality and needs and get excited about all the fun things in your future!
Coach yourself through scary situations – Some good self-talk can really help you step outside your comfortable box. Repeat encouraging, positive phrases to yourself. Use your name and the first person to make it more effective.
- You can say something like: “Jenna, I know you’re scared, but you’re going to try this anyway. Just think about how much fun you could have! You’re strong and brave.”
- You can even find a quiet spot or a private bathroom and talk to yourself out loud in the mirror.
- This can be especially helpful for helping you with that final push. You’re in the plane, ready to jump out for your very first skydiving experience. Don’t stop now!
Picture the worst-case scenario to put your fear in perspective – Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could possibly happen?” Think about ways you could deal with those circumstances if they happened. Once you’re prepared for the worst, you can only be happily surprised by something better.
- Avoid answering your question with crazy possibilities like: “I could die.” If you do this, then follow it up by thinking through how unlikely that is.
For example, you’ve wanted to take a cross-country road trip, but all you can think about is getting stranded if you break down or run out of gas. You can make plans for this! Bring along an extra gas tank. You can even invest in a radio that can allow you to get in touch with emergency services if you’re out of cell phone range.