The Freedom of Breaking out of Your Comfort Zone
The day I got my driver’s license was one of the most exciting moments in my teenage life. Like most new drivers, I was hyper-focused on technique. Hands at 10:00 and 2:00 on the steering wheel? Check. Signal on before making a turn? Check.
Driving quickly became second nature. Pretty soon, I didn’t have to think about doing any of those things. I just did them.
Then I got married. I was introduced to my husband’s stick-shift car, and soon it became mine to drive. Ack!
I hit the road to learn. Flat road … no problem. Slight incline … well, that was a different story.
One day while running errands, I found myself on a hill at a complete stop. I rolled forward and back, forward and back, forward and back. I was totally stuck. After repeating this process for what felt like an eternity, a nice gentleman tapped on my window. “Would you like me to do that for you?” he kindly asked. I accepted his help.
But I felt humiliated. My skills didn’t improve much with time, so my husband and I finally got an automatic.
Fast forward a couple of decades. My car was in the shop. I needed something to drive, so my husband offered his keys — once again, a stick-shift. I hesitated as I recalled my earlier experiences. This was definitely outside of my comfort zone.
But that day, I made the decision to relearn how to drive a stick. If not, I would be stuck in my comfort zone with a terrible feeling of defeat. Then and now, I don’t want to be afraid to take on new challenges, to embrace new technology or to grow. Ever.
Comfort zones feel safe because they’re predictable. But they can also feel restrictive, holding you back from reaching your potential. Breaking out of your comfort zone can be freeing. Invigorating. Exciting. And it’s a critical step in becoming the best version of yourself.
Power Challenge 1: Think “Outside” Your Comfort Zone
So, what’s holding you back? Let’s look at the boundaries of your comfort zone — from inside your comfort zone. That’s right! Before you start breaking through those barriers take a “safe” first step by using your imagination.
Make a little time for yourself and get ready to gently explore the edges of your comfort zone.
First, list three or four things in your everyday life that you’re not doing because you’re afraid or hesitant in some way. For example, maybe you want to speak your mind more assertively in meetings at work. Or start a new health regime. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to learn a new skill or try a new sport.
Your imagination has no limits.
As you make your list, you might sense some fear or anxiety. Don’t worry! Those feelings let you know that yes, you’ve hit the edges of your comfort zone.
Now, use your mind to move past those edges.
Work with each item on your list, one at a time. Really imagine yourself doing that thing. Move beyond your initial discomfort. Push yourself to think of all the benefits of doing the “scary” things on your list.
Related: Conquer Your Fear!
In other words, for each item, find all the upsides — all the opportunities — that you can. If you get stuck, ask a trusted friend to help you. (They probably don’t have the same fears as you.)
What would open up for you? Get excited for the incredible freedom you could feel beyond the restrictive boundaries of your comfort zone. Practice this type of envisioning as often as you can. Pretty soon you‘ll be ready to start breaking through those barriers and experiencing new opportunities you never thought possible!
Power Challenge 2: Choose to Reframe Failure
So many of us have a fear of failure. That fear keeps us “securely” in our comfort zone. And holds us back from life in so many ways!
I really like Albert Einstein’s way of thinking about failure. He said, “Failure is success in progress.” Isn’t that true? Failure is not an end point. It just means there’s some more work to do.
So, suppose that you try something, and … it doesn’t go that well. You speak up in that meeting and your idea lands flat. You start your new health regime and find yourself already “messing up” on the third day. Okay, now what?
Who is someone you admire? How have they handled their failures?
Don’t turn these supposed failures into judgments about your worth or value as a person. Don’t let them be an end to your efforts. They are just temporary stumbles, just points on the learning curve.
Not so sure about this? Think of something you’ve already accomplished in your life. Did you do it perfectly from the start? I’m sure you didn’t. If you had focused on failure, you never would have kept going.
Make up your mind to reframe failure as often as you can. Perhaps find a mantra or two that can help you keep perspective. For example:
- “I can stretch to become a better me.”
- “I’m not failing, I’m learning.”
Write your mantra on a sticky note — or something more elegant if you like! Put it where you’ll see it often. Change your mantras every so often to keep them fresh. And, be sure to celebrate every time you successfully turn feelings of failure into feelings of empowerment and determination.
Power Challenge 3: Test the Waters
Breaking out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be big and dramatic. There’s magic in making one small change at a time. In fact, you probably do new things all the time without realizing it.
“Life is a series of baby steps.” – Hoda Kotb
Try shaking things up a little. Need some ideas? Here are a few:
- Check out a new skill by taking an introductory course
- Try a new brand of something just for kicks (Yogurt? Protein bar? Hand lotion?)
- Practice new, confident body language
- Take a full lunch break away from your desk or office
- Make a little time at the end of today to plan out tomorrow
Trying something new or acting a different way may feel like a challenge at first. But once you take something tried and true and change it up a bit, you begin to break free out of your comfort zone. You open yourself up to new experiences. You become willing to experiment with new ways of doing things and, more importantly, new ways of being.
Break Free of Your Comfort Zone
So, here’s your gameplan. Use your imagination to focus on the benefits of pushing past fear. Redefine failure so it doesn’t keep you from progressing. Shake up your routine. Try new things, discover new talents and enjoy new experiences.
The more you do, the more you learn to trust yourself. Even if you hit a few snags along the way. That’s how you build resilience. That’s how you grow.
And that’s how you become the best version of yourself, one step at a time.
Looking for a motivational speaker for your next event? Carla energizes and inspires attendees to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.