Author: August Clarke
All of us have a comfort zone. For some of us, it is large, and for others, it is significantly smaller, but the fact remains that every person has activities, places, and people they are comfortable and familiar with as well as those that they are not.
It’s not a bad thing to spend some time in your comfort zone, but pushing its boundaries every once in a while can enable you to take advantage of unique opportunities and engage in new experiences. Unfortunately, doing so isn’t easy. There’s a reason we call it a “comfort” zone. Stepping outside of that bubble of security can be scary and, yes, uncomfortable – however, not impossible. The following are two simple but effective tips to make the process less intimidating, and hopefully more exciting, too.
TIP #1: Change one element at a time
I once read that there are three basic elements of a comfort zone: people, places, and activities. If you try an unfamiliar activity with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting, before long you’ll probably feel like bolting. When expanding your comfort zone, you don’t have to change every element all at once. Instead, try working on each element individually, and keep the rest constant.
How many times have you geared up to do something that scares you, and asked a friend to come along and do it with you? This is the same idea. If you are scared of heights, making the decision to go on a roller coaster with a friend at an amusement park you’ve been to many times is a great way tackle that aspect of your comfort zone. That way the people and the place are familiar, even if the activity is not. Likewise, if you are anxious about hanging out with a new friend, you could invite them to participate in an activity you are confident in at a place that you know well. Confidence in one area often ends up rubbing off in areas that you feel less confident about.
TIP #2: Take small steps every day
When people think about expanding their comfort zone, they will often imagine their most bold, confident, and ideal version of themselves. This may be pleasant to fantasize about, but – in reality – change takes time. If you try to transform yourself overnight, it will be too overwhelming. Instead, the trick is to take baby steps every day towards your goal (in this case, expanding an element of your comfort zone).
By doing one small thing differently than you usually do, you will be able to build up your confidence in a low-risk environment. This will give you the courage to later take bigger steps outside of your current comfort zone. For example, next time you walk your dog, try taking a route you’ve never tried before. Or, if you are shy, try engaging in small talk with the person working the cash register in the next store you enter. These are all small, easy steps that will go a long way over time.
By doing one small thing differently than you usually do, you will be able to build up your confidence in a low-risk environment. This will give you the courage to later take bigger steps outside of your current comfort zone.
The thing about it like you are rock climbing. As you move up the wall, you may have to pause frequently to give your belayer time to remove the slack in the rope. If you try launching yourself from one spot to the next without leaving time to adjust the rope, you will likely fall several feet. But if you move up the wall one foot at a time, the belayer will have time to tighten the rope and ensure that you are secure the entire time that you climb.
It’s important to remember that your comfort zone has no tangible boundaries! All of your fears about what may go wrong if you dare to step outside of them are illusions constructed in your mind.