Want to pole-vault out of your comfort zone but don't know how to? Don't worry, we got you.
Ah, the cozy and cushy comfort zone—it's like living your life on cruise control. The sailing is smooth as there's no chance of turbulent waters or mercurial weather to rock your boat—well, you took care of that.
So, it's more like floating on a nice snug dinghy in your private swimming pool. It's warm and safe there, and who wants stress and anxiety in their life?
But there's a nagging voice springing from a place deep within you which knows that real growth and life-enriching experiences begin once you unmoor from the safe confines of your comfort zone. Life-altering opportunities, too, come from places where one has never dared venture.
Staying in our comfort zone does us more bad than good, even science says so. In 1908, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson carried out an experiment from which they inferred that an optimal level of arousal or stress helps boost performance.
What they also found out is that the performance plunges as the arousal or stress level crosses the optimum balance.
So, the idea here is to prod yourself to move out of the comfort zone but one challenge at a time. You don't want to stress yourself so much that you are put off by the idea of exploring that which is beyond your cushy cocoon. There are key steps that you can take, right from today, to get out of your comfort zone.
Identify what makes you afraid
Of course, there is a fear of failure that holds you back from stepping out of your comfort zone. But where does this fear come from? What do you think will happen if you fail?
Keep probing deeper as it will whittle down all the noise and distractions and murky thoughts and in the end, leave with the crux of your problem. This is the first step to get out of your comfort zone.
Befriend inconvenience and discomfort
Once you have pinned down what makes you quake in your boots, it's time to put on your hard-wearing ones, pull up the socks, and get down to the work. The work is getting comfortable with fear, discomfort, and inconvenience.
Let's say, giving a presentation makes you uncomfortable, then we'd suggest starting with small videos on Instagram and LinkedIn. This will help you get into the groove slowly.
Observe and listen
But don't we all do that? Well, we see instead of observing and hear instead of listening—that's what happens when we become adults and get engrossed in our career, family, and the whole enchilada.
However, it's often the little things, conscious efforts to really be present "in the moment" that have the great potential of shifting perspectives. So, listen with all your ears and observe with an open heart.
Take one step at a time
Sometimes, people set off toward achieving their goals with all the fanfare and exhilaration only to lose the momentum and get back at square one. What happens when you do heavy exercise on the first day of your gym? Well, aside from over-exerting your body, you also encumber yourself with heaps of expectations.
But as they go unfulfilled, they make you feel inadequate and give up.
This is why you should always start small and increase the difficulty level gradually. Don't overwhelm yourself on the first day or you will give yourself a reason not to get out of your comfort zone.
Keep expanding your "to-explore" list
You must have seen or heard that tortoises retreat in their shells when they sense a threat. Think of yourself as the turtle who needs to be assured of its safety.
Tell yourself that it will be okay if you strike a conversation with someone you like or go to a new restaurant other than your usual stomping ground.
The trick here is to keep challenging yourself every week so that your enthusiasm to try something new is sustained and you are ready to tackle bigger challenges.
Just make a decision
Making a snap decision may seem counterintuitive but sometimes, that’s all we need to yank ourselves out of the “to do or not to do” quagmire. We have the habit of dissecting a situation from all the angles and we get so caught up in it that we never end up doing anything.
Learn to trust your instinct and judgment—you will learn a lot about yourself when you allow your gut feeling to take over.
Think about what you have achieved so far
Success exacts hard work, which in turn necessitates you that you roll up your sleeves and get out of your comfort zone. Reflect on your achievements—remind yourself of the discomfort and unfamiliar state you had to put yourself in to become successful at something you wanted.
You need to jog your memory and revisit the gumption and focus that you got you here.
Stop giving excuses to yourself
Of course, the part of you that is used to a set familiar pattern will try to talk you out of venturing beyond it. You have to recognize when thoughts like, "maybe I'll give this a shot some other time" or "I don't think I have the mental bandwidth to deal with it" pop up.
Put them to rest by asserting the reasons why you want to get out of your comfort zone and dive straight into it.
Ask yourself what comfort means for you in personal and professional life. Does your definition include growth, opportunities, and exploration?
If not, it means you are living an uninspired and stuck life which is neither allowing you to evolve nor giving you any meaningful purpose to chase. It's time to include a new and flexible definition of comfort in your personal dictionary.
Say yes to a new experience
As much as it's important to say no without feeling guilty, you should also be open to saying "yes" to situations from which you generally stave off. Even if you don't particularly enjoy it, you will still have something to add to your experience.
So, next time someone asks you to join them for a meditation session or a weekend game, don't take a rain check but be there!
The idea behind getting out of your comfort zone is to unlock the potential and learn things about yourself you never thought you had in you. To do that, you don't need to subject yourself to difficult situations for the sake of it.
The yearning to do something new is in itself is a push that a part of you gives you to get out of your comfort zone. Just don't let fear and laziness drown it out and take one baby step at a time.