There is something great about watching your favourite movies or reading your favourite books while sprawled on the couch, a steaming tea nearby. It is both comforting and relaxing because you know how things will end and how it will make you feel. But what about when you stay in a relationship, that has run its course, purely because it is too uncomfortable to leave? What if you really hate your current job but youíre too scared to apply for a new one- to try something new?
Donít fall into the comfort zone trap.
While it can be nice to return to the comfort of a habit, a past but nonetheless familiar lover, or the same, lacklustre office- there needs to be time to attempt something new as well. Or you risk becoming stagnant in life and change will seem threatening and uncomfortable. You deserve to challenge yourself once in a while and feel great while doing it.
Recently I started going to the gym to avoid the Summer humidity, despite always defining myself as someone who Ďcanít work out surrounded by other peopleí. At first I was quite intimidated by the various machines and glistening, fit people so confidently using them. I felt extremely self-conscious like a huge spotlight was trailing me- showing the whole gym that I was a clueless newb. So I told myself if I truly didn't like it- I didn't have to go back and I could continue to work out at home. After trying out some unfamiliar machines and smiling nervously to people who passed me while training, I left feeling pleased with myself. I had broken out of my comfort zone in a simple way but it felt great.
You donít have to make huge leaps to shake things up in your life but even just try something a little out of the ordinary for you. Maybe you will wear a style of clothing you would never have tried before because you were self-conscious, or you may travel to a new part of your city or town just to explore. The change doesnít have to be ground-breaking it just needs to be different for you. Even if the thought of it makes you feel nervous- that is a good indicator that you need to try it out. Start small and youíll be surprised at how comfortable things become each time and how much more confident you 'll feel at pushing your personal boundaries. Before you realise it, youíll be craving new experiences and pushing through the fear of the unfamiliar like an old pro. As Eleanor Roosevelt said:
"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
So here are some simple ideas for easing out of your comfort zone:
Go to a new restaurant (take a friend or your family, if you like).
Walk or drive home a different way for a change of scenery.
Go to a movie alone. (Simple but really effective if you tend to get anxious being alone in public).
Smile at as many strangers as you can throughout your day.
Join a group or club for a topic you're passionate about like: sports, yoga/meditation, writing, chess, toastmasters).
If in a job you dislike: search for 5 new jobs that seem more 'you' and apply for them.
Apply for that course you've been considering for months.
Read a book outside of your favourite genre for a change.
Go to a networking event related to your career field, or the one you want to get into.
If there somewhere you've been meaning to go in your city or town like a museum, art gallery or some new markets- now is the time. Go and do it and enjoy yourself.
Try a new hobby like painting, learning a language, playing an instrument, photography or scrap booking.
Start that new exercise regime that you've been putting off. Right now if you can- put on your runners and go. Don't overthink it.
I know some of these might seem really simple, but the smaller the task is, the easier it is to attempt in the first place when trying to create a shift towards new territory. Once something becomes easy or feels more comfortable- step it up again. And make sure you attempt things that you consider fun or that improve you and push you closer to the person you want to become. You can't fail when you try things with an open mind and positive attitude because everything is a learning experience. And remember: you deserve to feel confident and experience new, amazing things. Now go bust that comfort zone!