Ah, the ‘comfort zone’. That place we all find ourselves in at one point or another. Instead of challenging ourselves, we simply do what we already know we’re good at. Instead of trying new things, we merely stick to what has been done in the past. I’m not saying that your comfort zone is a bad thing; being in a place where you feel safe and happy is wonderful! At some point, however, you have to acknowledge that it’s time to make a conscious effort to move forward, instead of merely drifting through life. To make positive strides towards becoming the person you’d like to be. And that can be really scary. Here are some of my tips to help you move out of your comfort zone to face new and exciting prospects and challenges!
1) Research – The first step when it comes to the grand escape is, as stated above, acknowledging that perhaps some of your more recent decisions have been a bit on the safe side. The second step is doing something about this potential complacency, and this is where the research comes in. Sometimes the opportunities that will change your life happen to fall into your lap, but more often than not you have to seek these opportunities out for yourself. When researching, make a list of things you want to take into consideration:
What exactly are you looking for – Are you looking for a relaxed club or a more educative class or learning experience, specific work experience to help further your goals or merely trying something in a new field to get a feel for it?
How time consuming will it be – When trying new things, make sure you don’t neglect or forgo old responsibilities for new ones, but if this new experience is truly important to you then ensure you prioritise and make time for it.
How fast you’d like to move forward – With any new experience there will always be some uncertainty, as to whether or not it will be good for you and if you will enjoy it, so while it is important to try to stretch yourself, make sure you are not stretching yourself too far or too quickly. If you often feel anxious in new situations, take baby steps; maybe take a friend or family member to a new club with you and once you become more secure you can go alone. As long as you are moving forwards it really doesn’t matter what speed you are travelling! If you are more comfortable with change, however, then by all means try diving in head first and see what happens!
If there’s a new activity or hobby that you’ve been wanting to try for an age but never got round to – find a local club (the internet is a wonderful thing, people) and go down there! If you’ve got a skill you’ve been wanting to improve, or want to gain experience in a new field, find somewhere you would be happy spending your time. A club, workplace or class that you can realistically dedicate a part of your life to and be comfortable in doing so.
2) Turning fear into courage – So you know those butterflies you get in your stomach when you’re about to do something you’ve never done before; embarking on a new opportunity or job, meeting a group of new people? Well these butterflies are often described as being a physical response to the fear or anxiety you might feel in an unfamiliar situation, but I like to view them as something a bit different. Excitement. Courage. Let that feeling remind you that what you’re about to do is brave and will propel your life in a positive direction. Let that feeling drive you instead of holding you back or restricting you. Flip that feeling from something negative into something wholly positive; from fear into courage. Follow those butterflies to a new, exciting part of your life.
3) Deep breaths – It’s been said before, but it really does help. If you ever feel like the floor is about to crumble beneath your feet, take three deep breaths; in through the nose and out through the mouth. I often find myself making poor, rash decisions when in a new environment and when I’m unsure what to do or where to go, so let your mind clear with each breath, and then with a fresh outlook you can make some more positive decisions.
4) Just Press Send – A “Just say yes” for the technological era, if you will. In this new world, I often find myself having to send or respond to an email when taking on a new challenge or responsibility. Even replying to a text can be daunting at times, like telling your friend you will be going to that party on Friday – that party where you’ll know maybe two people and be placed in a room full of confident strangers. You’ve reread the message you’ve written fifteen times, so stop searching for spelling errors that don’t exist. Trust yourself and your judgement. Take a deep breath, and just press send. Committing to something is the hard part, now all you have to do is let those butterflies of courage and excitement lead the way!
5) Have fun! Of course the most important part of trying new things and escaping the comfort zone is having fun! New experiences are scary, but it’s important to remember all the good they can bring into your life. If anything you try ever starts bringing you down instead of lifting you up, perhaps it’s not the right thing or place for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from that experience and walk forward with more knowledge and experience. More often than not, these new experiences will bring so much joy into your life, if you will only give them a chance.
So, instead of watching TV all day, and then cursing your lack of productivity when the sun goes down, or being too afraid to send that all important message and then wishing you had done so later, take the risk. Yes, it might be bad. You may not have a great time. But I honestly think that trying anything new will always have at least a small positive outcome, and hopefully a hugely positive impact on your life. The experience you will gain will outweigh whatever you come up against; new experiences help us learn and grow and become the people we want to become. More open, confident people who are willing to open their hands to the skies and catch whatever the universe throws at them.
Stay smart, share smarts folks!