Last week we talked about our comfort zone: what it is and how to recognize that you might actually be stuck in it without even knowing it. We’ve all heard the famous quote by Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, but how do we get out of it? Especially if we’ve been living there for a long time.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Comfort Zones are Natural
Before we go any further, we need to understand that our comfort zone is a very natural place to be. We are wired to gravitate toward and settle into a comfortable way of being, of living, and then settle there. So let’s not be too hard on ourselves when we realize that we are letting fear run our lives, or that we are missing out on some great experiences because we are stuck in our comfort zones.
After all, there are 2 good reasons for this: 1) comfort zones keep us safe, and 2) they conserve energy, both physical and mental. Repetitive habits keep us safe and save us energy, and these are necessary for our survival. Or at least they used to be.
Life Outside our Comfort Zone is Better
One thing that makes us humans so special is that we are able to think and reason and feel on a very deep level. We have the ability to live life with passion, enthusiasm and excitement. And we have an almost unlimited potential for growth. It is this potential that creates the yearning for more.
But how do we do it? How do we move past comfort and go after our passions? Breaking habits, facing fears and taking risks are huge tasks! But it’s really not as difficult as it sounds. With a little understanding and a willingness to take small steps, we can slowly start moving out of our comfort zones and get that passion back!
Here are 3 simple steps to get you out of that comfort zone
1. Recognize what is inside and outside of your comfort zone:
It is hard to know if you are settling, or if you are stuck, if you don’t even know where your comfort zone lies. So start by having a look around and making a list of things you really want to do but are avoiding. They can be big or small, long term or short term. Examine them and be honest about your reasons for not doing them. These are things that are out of your comfort zone.
2. Reframe Discomfort:
When we’ve been in our comfort zone for too long, we start to see discomfort as an ugly monster that must be avoided at all costs. Just the thought of being uncomfortable sends us running in the opposite direction. In order to truly get out of our comfort zones and make lasting change, the most important thing we can do is reframe how we see discomfort.
“Master your fear of discomfort and you can master the universe.” ~Leo Babauta
We need to put it in perspective and see it for what it truly is: a sign that we are growing. When you do something that makes you uncomfortable, that discomfort is merely a sign of growth, just like the discomfort you feel in a muscle when you are working out. That discomfort is what you feel when you are growing your muscle.
And growth is good. If discomfort and growth go hand in hand, then discomfort must also be good. Start to see it that way. Make it a point to see it that way, and gradually you will reframe how you react to discomfort. The next time you are feeling uncomfortable, instead of jumping so quickly and automatically to stop what is causing the discomfort, pause. Pause for a moment and acknowledge that discomfort is a sign of growth, and you choose growth.
3. Do one small thing daily, and one bigger thing weekly:
Grab the list you made in Step 1 and divide the items into BIG and SMALL. For example, something small might be talking to strangers or trying a new food. Something ‘Big’ might be signing up for a new class or asking for a raise. Have a look at your list with your new mindset of reframing discomfort into a sign of growth.
Now take the ‘Small’ items and begin the habit of doing one thing each day from that list. Make sure you start off with the easiest things first, to give yourself some momentum. Don’t be hard on yourself, just start with little things to create the habit of no longer avoiding discomfort. Try to do this every day.
Next, take the ‘Big’ list and do one thing a week, or if your items are extremely big you might want to do this list monthly. The most important point here is to stop avoiding the items on this list, to stop making excuses for not doing these things, to reframe your discomfort and to start living fully!
Remember not to be hard on yourself! Getting used to discomfort can take some time, but as long as you are taking small steps in the right direction you will get there. Remember:
- start small
- celebrate small achievements
- make it a daily habit
- the more consistent you are, the more these achievements will build on each other and soon you will notice your self-identity moving from that of a fear-based person to a risk-taker.
If you want to read a great article on really mastering discomfort, check out this great post from Zen Habits. Or give yourself a Comfort Detox
Did you love this article? Don’t forget to share it!
Till Next Time,
Keep Going 4Ward!
Want more? Check out these related posts: