“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” - Neale Donald Walsch
Staying in your comfort zone is just as important as leaving it from time to time. Contrary to popular belief, your comfort zone isn’t fixed to a single location. It’s not bounded by physical walls. The truth is that our comfort zone exists in our mind. With that said, it should be easy to get out of it right? Unfortunately, the answer is “no.” It’s far more complicated than that.
Comfort zones are called ‘comfort’ for a reason. It’s because everything that falls inside this zone makes us comfortable, we know everything like the back of our hands. It doesn’t give us any headaches. It doesn’t cause us any stress. It’s where we usually head to the moment life becomes too much for us to bear. It’s your ‘usual’ environment where you control everything, and you know nothing’s going to come out at you and scare you to death.
Comfort zones are all good. But it becomes a negative thing when it holds you back from living life the way it’s meant to be lived.
Think of a turtle hiding in its shell. You’re the turtle, and the shell is your comfort zone. You want to try out something new, but you’re too afraid. Your friends are asking you to check out something new and fun, but you refuse. You spend your entire life in your shell. That’s all you know. And because of that, you don’t get to live life at all. You’re simply living inside your shell.
It’s true that you can be happy inside your comfort zone. But like most things in life, you need to work on maintaining that level of happiness. And in order to do that, you’d need to step out of your comfort zone.
Let’s take, for example, a married couple. When you’re newlywed, everything seems so exciting, so perfect. But a few months or a few years down the road, you realize that both of you have become far too comfortable with the life you’ve made, and you’re no longer happy. You’re no longer growing in your relationship.
You do the same things over and over, day in and day out. There’s no variety in your daily routine or your marriage. Unhappiness starts to build up.
To combat this, you’d need to do something out of the ordinary. Both you and your spouse are taking each for granted, and you will need to work hard on making the marriage happy once again. Perhaps you can both take up dancing lessons, or you schedule something adventurous on your days off. Rediscover each other by leaving your comfort zones behind.
Here are other ways you can break out of your comfort zone:
• Remind yourself of your dreams
Don’t let your comfort zone drag you down. You know what you want deep down inside, but you’re too afraid of all the risks and the unknowns along the way. A realistic method of going after your dreams, and minimizing the risks, is by planning.
Have a solid plan on how you’re going to get from point A (where you are now) to point B (your big dream). If you can break it down into milestones and mini-goals, it will be even better. This way, you’re not going to feel like David going after Goliath.
Every time you achieve a milestone, it brings you one step closer to your goals. Just take it easy. Have a daily, weekly or monthly goal, and you won’t even realize how far you’ve left your comfort zone behind!
• Be brave and face your fears
Just because you’re leaving your comfort zone behind doesn’t mean you’re going to be entering the lion’s den. The outside world may be chaotic, but if you spend enough time in it, you’ll learn it’s not so bad. There’s a semblance of order there. You just need to open your eyes and recognize the signs and the patterns.
When planning your great escape, ask yourself what your greatest fears are and then figure out how you can combat these fears. If you’re afraid of public speaking, perhaps it’s because you hate the thought of people laughing at you.
To face your fear, try thinking of it this way: you have a very important message to share, and the only way people are going to learn about it is if you go out there and tell them. Otherwise, they’re going to live their lives in blissful ignorance. Also, you can say to yourself that maybe half of your audience is in the same boat as you. They’re just as afraid of public speaking as you are.
So, you see, your problems aren’t all that bad. Whatever your fear is, break it down until you can see just how foolish and insignificant it all is in the grand scheme of things!
• Learn a new skill
Learning a new skill in this day and age is a must. Employers value it, colleagues appreciate it, and best of all, you’re not limiting yourself to a single skill. New skills will open up a whole new world for you. Sure, it’s most probably going to take some time, but if you keep on doing the same things over and over, you’re eventually going to get left behind. If you want to succeed in life, you need to pick up as many relevant skills as possible. In short, you can never have too much skill.
• Strike up a conversation
When we were kids, our parents told us to never talk to strangers. But it doesn’t have to carry on to our adult lives. We’re better informed, and we’re savvy enough to identify who we should be avoiding and who we should be socializing with. Perhaps you’ve got a new colleague at work. He or she seems to be the shy type. Instead of hiding in your cubicle, go say “Hi!” and introduce yourself. That person will appreciate your kindness and you’ll end up feeling happy about yourself.