Comfort zones apply to us all, whether yours is performing in front of a crowd or nestling away with a good book! However, more often than not, we reach a plateau where we’re stuck in the confines of a routine and want to try something new to inject a little freshness into the everyday.
If you’re a go-getter, this likely isn’t a challenge. And, if you’re the sort of person who relishes any opportunity to experience new things, it’s probably the top of your to-do list!
But, if those characteristics don’t apply, and you feel perfectly content in the safety of your comfort zone, something out of routine can be stressful and cause untold anxiety.
Let’s look at five practical things you can do to try something new and ease your way into breaking out of your comfort zone – without the stress.
1. Break it into bite-sized chunks.
If you’re keen to start jogging, the first step will not be to sign up for an ultra-marathon. That’s an extreme example, but you see my point!
When doing something new feels intimidating, flinging yourself headfirst into it isn’t going to do you any favors. It can also instigate a ‘flight or fight’ fear response, which isn’t something you want to initiate without just cause.
Consider what you’d like to try – whether that is public speaking, a new hobby, a sport – and ease yourself into it with manageable, scalable progress.
Going back to the jogging analogy, set yourself the task of walking a certain number of steps per day. When that’s comfortable, intersperse gentle jogging with running, and up the ratio every couple of weeks.
In a couple of months, you will find your fitness and confidence growing gradually until you can run twice as far as you can currently walk – and without the enormous pressure of all or nothing.
2. Make it today.
Procrastination can be turned into an art form. If you’ve set your mind on personal development but haven’t managed to dig deep for the motivation to try something new, you’re making it easier to keep putting it off – until that day never comes.
Make it today. Make it now.
Schedule a time, commit, and even if it’s just a tiny step, make the first move to shaking off your comfort zone.
Once you start and get those dopamine hits that tell your brain you’re doing something rewarding, you’ll quickly find the reserves of willpower to keep pushing until you can break through completely.
3. Find a friend to join you on the journey.
Self-doubt can create an insurmountable psychological barrier. When we want a new challenge or to experience something different, that anxiety can escalate until we are convinced we are simply incapable of doing anything different.
That stops when you find a friend or support network to join you. In some cases, that buddy system already exists – but you’ll have to go out and find it!
Say you want to practice public speaking because it’s something that strikes dread into your heart, yet, you’re likely to need to be able to do it if you pursue your dream career.
See what’s about – public speaking groups, debate teams, performance classes, night school, drama clubs.
You don’t have to set your aspirations sky high (at least not to start with!), but if you find an existing network within the same scope as your intended self-development goal, approach them and see how you can get yourself involved.
Even just watching or attending a group that’s new to you is a good starting point. In a like-minded gathering of people, explain your objective and what you’re hoping to achieve, and you have a built-in support network to help you get there.
4. Test your limits.
Perhaps you don’t have a specific goal? Or you want to try something new but feel chained to the insecurities that bind you to your comfort zone?
Take it easy on your decision-making energy by changing one thing every day, which places you in a new scenario without being a massive variation to your routine.
- Walk a different way home.
- Eat somewhere new for lunch.
- Call your friend instead of messaging.
- Say yes, instead of no.
Even small changes will start to create a climate of adventure in your mind! Once you begin to experience new, different things and get a taste for the idea that you don’t need to do something as you always have done, you’re beginning to inch closer to the edges of that comfort zone.
5. Flip a coin.
Using a coin toss to make a decision might sound fickle, but bear with me here! Comfort zones are about patterns, habits, and routine – and we can get sucked into that zone by repeating the same behaviors over and again.
Our behavior patterns are often created by subconscious thought rather than by conscious decisions. Since childhood, these are mapped out and establish the belief systems and habitual behaviors that guide us throughout life.
When you try to step out of your comfort zone, the reason this can feel hard is that you are challenging those beliefs and habits and trying to bend your thought process to accept that something different might be just as good.
So – toss a coin.
Leave fate to the gods, and relinquish a little bit of control. It doesn’t have to be something significant (nor should it be) – but decide where to go today, what workout to try, which friend to call, what to wear to work.
By taking a step back from the pressure of trying to motivate yourself to make a different decision than the ones you always do, a coin toss makes it possible to accept an alternative conclusion and permits you to try something new.
Even if it’s because Tails said so.
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