We humans like comfort. Anything from foods that make us feel warm and fuzzy to a pair of thick socks that almost convince us that we are wrapped in a cozy cocoon. We like the things that are soft, easy and familiar. Including our routines. Personally, I have always loved a routine because I know what to expect and I know how to solve any problem that can pop up within that routine. Our comfort zones are safe and we cling to them without realizing this one thing: Our comfort zones are holding us back.
Why Don’t We Enjoy Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone?
There are lots of reasons we don’t want to step outside our safe spot. Here are a few that I see as my own and the best ways I’ve found to get past them.
First, we don’t realize how bad staying IN the comfort zone is for us. When we repeat the same routine or activity over and over, we don’t grow. Our creativity is stifled and we start thinking in patterns instead of having original thoughts. The same principle applies to physically working out. If you do the same exercise every day without variation, the muscles that you are NOT using in your workout wither away. Ever seen someone who only focused on bench presses and never saw the need for leg day? Yep, variation and changing it up is a GOOD thing!
Second, we don’t know where or IF this ‘stepping out’ is going to end. I will be the first to admit that, as a person who can’t go anywhere without a list and a plan, this is my BIG reason for not enjoying the uncharted trip out of the land of comfort. I have backup plans for my backup plans, which makes stepping out of my comfort zone feel like I’m stuck in that creepy room in a novelty haunted house where it’s pitch black and you have to feel your way forward, using only your footing and your sense of touch. One wrong step and you might fall into an endless pit! That’s what it feels like in your mind, anyway. It’s not reality. Catastrophe will not befall you if you venture out of your routine. You might just discover that you’re far more capable than you’d ever imagined!
Finally, humans don’t like change. Being uncomfortable means that some kind of change has pushed you out of your happy place. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard anyone complain about how they hate ‘change’ or if you yourself are no fan of change. I’ve learned to stop immediately digging my feet in when faced with a change and ask myself a couple of questions first. Is the change going to make a positive impact? And, Is the change going to happen whether I fight it or not? We all know that change can be hard, but if we take a step back and look at the big picture, that hard change may be necessary in order to get to your goal.
Wanna Change? Here’s How…
So, how do we get comfortable with being out of our element or trying something completely new? It is not as difficult as we may imagine it to be.
The first thing you need to do is simply BEGIN. Whatever activity it is that you feel uncomfortable about, the best thing to do is dive right in and get going. Commit to doing it and do not look back, keep pushing forward. Don’t give in to the temptation of stopping once you start – and believe me, you’ll want to! Just remind yourself that there is a reason you are doing what you are doing and do not allow yourself to back out. Push past the fear of failure and embrace the unknown!
Next, make sure that you know the reason for doing what you are doing. Your motivation has to be something that really matters to you. It is the thing that will push you to keep going when other people have gotten to the same point and given up. List maker that I am, I have been known to write down my motivational reasons on a card and carry it with me. That way, when I feel like giving up or giving in, I pull out that card, read it and remind myself why I cannot quit. Having that little reminder is surprisingly effective.
The next step is to have confidence in yourself. Being out of your comfort zone is going to cause you to feel like you have no idea what you are doing. It can be scary and that is okay. Remember that even the things that you are now comfortable doing were also once new and scary to you. You haven’t always had the answer to every problem. Once you find your way through the new problem, you’ll realize it was not as bad as you had imagined. You may even look back and find that you learned something new about yourself.
And finally, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and really think about your progress. You were pushed out of your comfort zone, forced to do something new and you came out on top. Celebrate that! Smile about it! You did something new and you didn’t give up. Growth isn’t always easy, but it IS worth the effort.