When I switched careers from law enforcement to writing, I felt completely out of my comfort zone. And when I moved from the east coast to the west, I was outside of my comfort zone there too. Since I did both at the same time, the word “comfort” wasn’t even in my vocabulary, as every aspect of my life changed with one five hour plane trip. That makes this a topic I’m extremely passionate about.
Look, I’ll be the first one to say that I like comfort zones. I like getting up each morning and having some idea of what I’m doing that day, some sort of schedule to follow, and I also like having a certain level of confidence in the tasks at hand. It makes me feel strong and powerful, like I can accomplish almost anything.
Of course, that’s a completely different feeling than when you’re going outside your comfort zone and engaging in something totally new.
There’s a sense of awkwardness because you’re not really sure what you should be doing and you’re also not sure if you’re even doing things right. It’s like suddenly being blindfolded and trying to feel your way around the room. Although you could have maneuvered all the obstacles rather quickly and easily just moments before, now you move with much more caution, experiencing everything on a heightened level as you work hard to get our bearings once again.
And while it is definitely sometimes uncomfortable to be in this limbo area between knowing exactly what you should be doing and having absolutely no idea at all, this is also the spot that is typically the most exhilarating. This is where you get to learn new things, experience new feelings, create new memories, and challenge yourself like you’ve never challenged yourself before.
That means that this is also where great ideas are born and great values are strengthened. It is where ideas become realities, beliefs become truths, and thoughts become guiders of our path, leading us right to wherever it is we are meant to be.
So what can you do to become more comfortable with going outside your comfort zone so you can experience all of these wonderful, self-empowering feelings and emotions? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Know where your comfort zone is. You can’t expect to go outside your comfort zone if you’re not really even sure where “outside” it is. Not sure about your personal boundaries? Just go to com and you can take “the world’s first scientifically valid comfort zone calculator.” (I took it and not only was I surprised by its accuracy, but I also love the recommendations it provides as to how to go out of my comfort zone even more than I do right now!)
- Change how you look at your comfort zone. In a post on How to Live, author Tom Murcko suggests you “view your comfort zone not as a shelter but a prison.” This ought to make it easier to remember that life exists at higher and often more meaningful levels when you’re expanding yourself into new never-been-there-before areas.
- Think not of what you stand to lose, but of what you stand to gain by pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. I wrote about this a little more extensively in The Change Blog, but essentially this means focusing on the positives of going outside your zone more than the negatives. Having this type of attitude can help you make the first steps.
- Go small. Instead of jumping completely outside your comfort zone like I did, there is a lot of benefit in going small so you don’t overwhelm yourself. The Positivity Blog suggests you do this by simply listening to different music, eating something you’ve never tried before, or reading a book you wouldn’t ordinarily read. Once you start to realize how fun life can be outside your comfort zone, you will likely find yourself taking bigger steps because you won’t be so scared by what could happen.
If you’ve tried any of these, I’d love to hear how you fared, so please consider commenting below. Or, if you have other ideas about how to get outside your comfort zone a little more comfortably, share those too so that you can help others do the same, enabling them to live happier, more fulfilling lives!
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!