We all have our comfort zone. This is the place we feel at ease and safe, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The only downside is that if we stay within these strict parameters that we set for ourselves, we’re unlikely to grow and experience new things. Sometimes comfort zones are created through fear. But if you’re brave and break through them, there is no end to the possibilities.
What Do You Want?
To make changes in your life and do something different, it’s important to understand your limitations. What are the things you’re happy with in your life? What would you like to change? What is holding you back? What do you want from your life?
If you’re struggling to work out what you really want from your life, try this simple exercise. Imagine going to bed tonight and sleeping deeply. When you wake up, all of your problems have miraculously disappeared. All of your obstacles have melted away, and you’re living the life you’ve always dreamed of. What does it look like? What do you like about this new life? You need to work within the bounds of reality, of course. Forget about super powers, etc., though that would be awesome. Think about how you would really like to live your life. Work within the realms of possibility.
This exercise is frequently used in therapy to help clients work out what they really want from life. Now ask yourself, why don’t you go out and get it? It’s likely that there are practicalities to address, of course. Money is often a big one. But, if you set your mind to it, why not have the life you’ve always wanted, or at least some version of that?
What’s Holding You Back?
Now you’re clear on what you want, what is it that’s holding you back? If it is practical things like money, etc., think about how to overcome this. If it’s fear, be really clear on what it is you’re afraid of. This could be failure, making a fool of yourself, losing your security, being rejected, etc. Now you know what’s holding you back, you can take steps to overcome it.
Do One Thing
Set yourself a small goal to do one thing this week that is out of your comfort zone. Just one small thing. It could be walking into a bar on your own, going to a networking event, sharing an idea with your boss or fellow students, etc. Once you’ve achieved this one small goal, you’ll see that the possibilities are endless. Continue to take small steps. This is not an exercise in creating the most amount of discomfort. It’s about making positive changes in your life.
Know The Possibilities
Sometimes, if we have lived a relatively quiet and simple life, we don’t know what’s out there. So, do some research. If you have always wanted to visit new places, read some travel blogs and get some books. There are lots of firsthand accounts to access, and pictures and videos to view. If you want to change your career, but you’re feeling a little stuck, look at some career sites. It’s likely that there is a whole range of jobs out there that you’ve never even heard of before.
A great way to leave your comfort zone is to travel. Traveling will take you out of your home environment and immerse you into a completely different culture and way of life. If you’re nervous about doing this, make it easy for yourself. If it’s not possible to travel with friends or family, companies like Just You will allow you to travel alone in safety. You will have the option of joining other people on the trip and access to a tour manager. However, you have the option of doing your own thing if you want to do so.
Try mini short-haul breaks first until you’ve built up your confidence. Then, as you get used to traveling, push the boundaries and extend your trip a little further.
Expand Your Mind
Another great way to make changes is to expand your knowledge and skills. There are many ways to do this. The power of the internet brings us no end of courses, some of which can be completed online. We can watch lectures, seminars, and listen to podcasts without having to leave our home. Or, enroll yourself in a college course. There’s always something new and exciting to learn, and it can lead you to new and exciting experiences.
But I Don’t Have Time
This is the excuse that many people give for not having taken a course, read those books, or changed their career. Another year goes by, and they are still in exactly the same place. Do you really not have time? Or are you just wasting time? The latter is often true.
There are many ways to free up more time in your day.
- How long does it take you to travel to college or work? 30 minutes, an hour, or more? Imagine if you could utilize this time to expand your mind and learn new things. Well, why not? Download some lectures, podcasts or novels to your phone and plug in the headphones. Use that time wisely.
- How long do you spend on social media each day? Be honest. Or, better still, jot down each time you access your phone. You’ll be amazed at how long you’re spending scrolling through feeds, chatting, texting, etc. Limit yourself to social media time or take a break from it altogether. Use that time to do something productive and something that your future self will thank you for.
- Get organized and quit procrastinating.
- Schedule time to work on your dreams, whether it’s researching, reading, attending courses, etc.
Comfort zones are built for a reason. They are there to help us feel safe in the world. And if you’re happy with that then that’s absolutely fine. However, if your zone is limiting your life in some way or preventing you from reaching your full potential, perhaps you need to rethink.
Change is hard. It’s scary, messy and there is the chance of failure. But, remember that you never really fail until you stop trying. So allow yourself to visualize the possibilities and then take the leap.