Stepping out of your comfort zone is wonderful for your confidence, self-esteem and creativity. It also means that life is never boring and neither are you!
You’ll experience greater enjoyment as you try out new experiences. You’ll stimulate your brain which is crucial to mental health. It will provide you with the resilience to deal more easily when unexpected changes happen in your life. Stepping out of your comfort zone helps you to improve yourself and become a happy, fun person that has lots of interesting things to talk about.
Here are my 13 easy, practical and effective ways to expand your comfort zone, so that you can reap the above rewards as well.
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1. Go to another country
Travelling is one of the best ways to step out of your comfort zone. You will experience new cultures, different customs, unique landscapes, flora and fauna and sometimes another language. Working with different currencies is good for your brain too!
When I travelled to South East Asia for the first time back in 2000, I remember the discomfort of having the injections before I left, getting food poisoning on New Year’s Eve in Malaysia and bartering with taxi drivers that wouldn’t put on their metre. However, I also remember the excitement of seeing a monkey for the first time, exploring amazing tropical rain forests and spending time on beautiful beaches with good friends.
Take a break from today’s interconnected world. Leave your phone at home, turn off the TV, radio and internet. This worked wonders for me when I was travelling in the Australia outback with my wife. We had no connection to the outside world for 3 days! – That felt a little uncomfortable and I knew that if we got stuck, we would be reliant on people coming the other way to help. I also remember how excited I was when I got my first “ping” as we reconnected with the internet on our approach to Alice Springs.
3. Start a Conversation with someone new
This doesn’t have to be a complete stranger. Strike up a conversation with someone new at work, the barista in your local coffee shop, a neighbour or someone in the queue. See if you can maintain a conversation for 30 seconds or longer. Another benefit of doing this, as that it gets you focussing on other people (rather than your own internal thoughts) and that is good for your mental health too.
4. Give yourself a thrill
Do something that is a little scary or fearful. You could step out of your comfort zone by trying scuba diving, skydiving or a roller coaster ride. If that doesn’t float your boat (or is too scary), try giving a speech or taking a dance class. I tried scuba diving a few years ago in the Maldives. I was super scared to start with, but once I got underwater and started seeing the corals and tropical fish, that sense of fear started to ease. Afterwards, it was lovely to have that sense of elation that comes from overcoming a fear.
5. Eat something new
Try a new restaurant that serves food from an unusual country that you have never tasted before. Examples are Lebanese, Pakistani or Korean food. If you’ve never tried raw fish, go to a Japanese restaurant and give it a go. I tried raw fish for the first time about 3 years ago and it tasted much better than I thought it would! You could also try choosing different fruits or vegetables from the grocery store.
6. Sit in a different place
Sit on the couch instead of your favourite chair. Sit at a different seat on the dining table. If you’re working at home, work in different places and notice how that feels. One of my suggestions for overcoming procrastination involves working in different locations.
7. Learn something new
Learning can be fun, but it can be unsettling as well, as we grapple with new ideas and concepts that require our complete attention and focus. Think back to learning how to drive a car and remember how that felt. Our brains are designed to learn and make new neural connections, so this is a great way to step out of your comfort zone. Try learning to use a new computer software or how to build a website. Other examples could be learning a musical instrument, learning to sail, taking part in a dance class or learning to cook a new recipe. The list is endless.
8. Apply for a job that is a significant step-up
If work is a little dull, predictable or boring, try applying for other jobs that are a significant step-up from what you are currently doing. On two occasions, I have applied for jobs that had a salary that was 20% higher than what I was currently earning. On both occasions, I got the job! Once I was doing the job, I soon got used to the new skills and responsibilities and enjoyed the financial rewards that came with it!
9. Start Slowly
If something seems daunting, just do the first step. Then pause and see what that feels like. In most cases, the discomfort will be lower than you expected and that sense of confidence will start to grow. Then do the second step and keep going. This can be a great one for gym routines. If doing 50 push-ups seems like a nightmare, start with 5 and progress from there.
10. Take a new route home from work.
Drive home via a different route. Turn off your Sat Nav or Google Maps and trust your instincts and see where you end up. Hopefully you’ll make it home for that different recipe that your partner has been experimenting with (because he or she has also been reading this blog post!)
11. Reconnect with someone you had lost touch with on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Social media has allowed me to reconnect with friends from School and University that I thought I would never see or speak to again. I’m so grateful for that. However, I always get that sense of discomfort when I first message them. Questions go through my mind such as “Will they remember me?” or “will they still like me?”. However, by doing this, I have since met with people that I hadn’t seen for over 10 years and that in itself is an amazing experience.
If you can’t find anyone that you have lost contact with, contact someone that you have not spoken to for at least 6 months and notice how that feels.
12. Face your Fears
Pick the one thing that is really holding you back, think about all the benefits that doing this will bring and go ahead and do it! This is one of the best ways to step out of your comfort zone. Examples could include asking your boss for a raise, inviting someone out for a date, making your first sales call or talking to your partner about something about the relationship that has been bugging you for months or even years.
13. Become comfortable with discomfort
Stepping out of your comfort zone will never feel completely comfortable (if it is, you will want to step out of your comfort zone more). Become more accustomed to this discomfort, helps you step out of your comfort zone more often. You realise that this feeling of discomfort is part of the process of achieving your goals and dreams.
Living consistently outside my comfort zone over the last 2 years has allowed me to record YouTube videos, create this blog and build an online business and brand. It has also allowed me to challenge myself and grow as a person.
Stepping out of your comfort zone opens up many new possibilities. I wonder how your life could change if your comfort zone were larger. Apply some of all of the 13 steps above and notice how you can stretch your comfort zone a little more each day.
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