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How To Get Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Your comfort zone is a state, place, or environment where you experience low levels of stress and anxiety.  It is an arena where you thrive, excel, and achieve great heights.  It allows you to think freely and causes your creativity to flow like water through a garden hose- without resistance.  In the same breath, your comfort zone can be a ball and chain which creates stagnation, mental atrophy, and prevents you from progressing in your life. It holds you back from everything you desire, from the dreams you once held as a child.  Your comfort zone can prevent you from trying something new, it can cause you to avoid taking risks which have the potential to reap great rewards, and cause you to have great fear and anxiety when you place yourself in an unfamiliar environment. The shackles of your comfort zone strangle your ankles while holding you back and cause sores that inflict great pain as you make an attempt to free yourself.   So the question is, how do you break out of your comfort zone when you are feeling the stagnation and complacency that is preventing you from taking those risks that would greatly benefit you?

Establish your Comfort Zone

It is essential to understand where your comfort zone is.  Now that you know what your comfort zone is, ask yourself, “what makes me uncomfortable”?  And not just uncomfortable for the sake of being uncomfortable. If that were the case, I would tell you to just live out that dream of running around your job or school in your underwear. Ask yourself “What are the things that are worth pursuing, but bring fear because of the potential of disappointment, ridicule or failure?”  Once you have gained the insight to know and understand what you fear, you can now move on to the next step… taking action.

Start Small

Too often, people view leaving their comfort zones in an extreme way.  They take their fear of heights, and they think that the next step is to free fall and parachute off of a cliff.  A small step might be to climb the roof of a house and muster the courage to stand up on the edge (please don’t jump).  If you are afraid to give a speech in front of a crowd, you wouldn’t stand in front of one thousand people as a starting point. It may be wiser to start with a small group of 4-6 people.  Preparing with a small task will help prepare you over time for the end goal.  Just as a novice runner prepares for a long run by beginning with a series of shorter runs and progressively increasing them over time, so should you pursue your ambitious goals. Work towards your end goal in increments.

 Ignore Outsider Opinions

I have worked with so many patients who have dreams and goals, yet they don’t pursue them because they fear judgment of their loved ones, their friends, or even strangers.  It is extremely important for you to recognize that whether you attempt to fly to the moon or sit right there staring into the abyss of your phone, people will judge, criticize and gossip about you.  Once you realize that outsiders will criticize you whether you ‘do’ or ‘don’t’, then you can proceed and pursue the thing that makes you happy. Not because you will or won’t actually attain it, but because you are making the attempt regardless of what others will say.

Surround Yourself with Risk Takers

Recently, I have had the privilege of hanging out with a group of artists. They are dreamers.  They come up with grandiose ideas and they actually work towards making those things become a reality.  What is truly special about these individuals is how they support and inspire one another.  While most of the world would tell them that what they are trying to achieve is “impossible”, they sit and ask themselves “If not me, then who?”.  The risk of failure is present, but they take those risks because they are surrounded by others who are like minded.  By surrounding yourself with others who take risks, you enable yourself to do the same, without hesitation.

Identify ‘Worst Case Scenarios’

You know what the worst case scenario is… death! And guess what, if you are reading this, one day you too will die.  Now that we have that out of the way, look at whatever it is that you wish to pursue. Now, the worst case scenario is that you fail at that attempt.  The beauty of life is that failing isn’t final. We have the ability and resilience as humans to make multiple attempts before achieving our goals.  Steven Spielberg was rejected from So. California’s School of Cinematic Arts before being accepted.  They really screwed that one up. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as an anchor. Now she can probably buy that network.  Michael Jordan was cut from his high-school basketball team.  He went on to lead his team to six championships in the NBA.  All in all, the worst case scenario is going to be that you fail, but failing might just be the fuel that you need to pursue your goal even harder.

Picture the End Result

If you truly pursue the things that you want to pursue and you dedicate your time and effort the way you envision yourself doing it, where will you be in 5 years?  Now, picture your life if you decide to never step out of your comfort zone… yup… you’ll be right back where you are going to ‘Google’ and looking up ‘how do I get out of my comfort zone’.

The time is now.  The potential for success is only present if you risk failure. Hey, what’s the worst that can happen?  You can die knowing that you tried, or live with the regret of never making an attempt.  It is up to you.

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