TAKE FOUR STEPS to Leave That Comfort Zone
1. Make a fool of yourself. One of the biggest things that holds many of us back is our fear of what people think. After all, you don’t want people to think you’re weird or rude or creepy or obnoxious or annoying, do you? But wait — think about the most lovable, magnetic people you’ve come across in your life. Odds are, they weren’t the meek, agreeable people who are reliably pleasant to be around. They were the people who were crazy and charming. People who blurted out silly, maybe inappropriate things, or who made huge, slap-your-forehead mistakes, or who were over the top most of the time, but others forgave them for being less than perfect and in fact, liked them for it. So shatter your concern for what people think of you. You’re allowed to be less than perfect, and you may find that people like you more for it, because it makes you a more exciting person to be around. Get laughed at, laugh with ‘em. Do something you normally wouldn’t do for fear of looking like an idiot. Be that idiot. You’ll be fine.
2. Face your fears. There are the big fears, such as heights, spiders, tight spaces, and germs, but there are also hundreds of subtle fears we bow to every day. Like the fear of breaking a bone, or falling down, or getting caught in the rain. What are the precautions you take every day to circumvent “negative” circumstances? And are those circumstances really worth stepping around? Those steps add up! It’s good to be proactive, but it’s bad to let a significant portion of your life be devoted to averting things that never happen–Little things that could turn into adventures or funny stories if you allow yourself to deal with a little discomfort.
3. Become comfortable with taking risks. Your comfort zone is comfortable because it’s where you know what to expect. Going out on a limb can be scary because you might fail. You might lose something. But you might also gain something, huh? In order to become comfortable with that uncertainty, you’ll need to practice the following:
* Non-attachment. When you decide to do something, do it for its own sake, not so that you can get a particular result. If you gamble, gamble with money you’re ready and willing to lose; gamble for the fun and exhilaration of gambling. If you win, that’s icing on the cake! But if you lose, no big deal. In other words, let go of your attachment to a certain outcome; instead, focus on the joy of doing whatever you’re doing. Live in the moment.
* Acceptance. When things don’t go your way, and they won’t, shrug it off. If you’re clinging to your comfort zone, you’re hanging on to an idea that the world is supposed to be a safe, predictable place, and that’s an illusion. You’re setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. Open your eyes. The world is a dynamic place where things go right and wrong. That’s just the way it is!
4. Enjoy the unknown. When’s the last time you felt excited about not knowing what was going to happen next? If you’re deep in your comfort zone, it’s probably been a while. Don’t you miss it? Don’t you miss the mixture of anticipation and anxiety that makes your heart flutter and stomach turn at the same time? Bring that feeling back into your life.
* Find or date someone as crazy as you are. When you discover that person who brings out the adventurous side from within you, it will help to encourage your development tremendously. These people can be easy to spot and will be found, for example, five miles away from home after packing up only a camera, tent, and food, to go camping in the woods. Spontaneity is a great contrast to someone like yourself who may not be comfortable or familiar with stepping out of your comfort zone often.
* Don’t confuse stepping out of your comfort zone with being reckless and stupid. There’s a difference between being reckless and accepting risks. Reckless people don’t accept risks-they don’t even think about them. You should know the risks, and decide to go through with the decision anyway, ready and willing to accept the consequences if things don’t work out.