For some retirees, the opportunity to slow down and enjoy life from the sidelines is a welcome respite. For others, retirement doesn't mean the end of the career...
Let’s begin this post with an exercise: Name three things that you avoid doing. It could be going to parties, meeting new people, paying your electricity bills, or climbing the stairs. Chances are that you have gotten good at avoiding these activities.
We like to organize our life around things that make us feel comfortable rather than uncomfortable. Comfortable places are also important. They keep us safe and stress-free. But they may also be devoid of possibilities. So while there is nothing wrong with being comfortable, you need to be mindful if your comfortable places are, in fact, your hiding places!
Ask yourself, is your comfort place your hiding place? Only outside your comfort zone can life surprise you. This post will discuss a few tips that will help you step out of your comfort zone safely.
9 Tips to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Understand What Makes You NervousThink back to the exercise we started with. By understanding what makes us nervous, we can work towards building a positive attitude about those things. For example, if you avoid people, then you will not experience a sense of community. Leaving the comfort zone will surely come with some associated pain.
Nevertheless, we need to understand that pain is not always bad. Instead of thinking of things that you avoid, think of pains that you can handle. Sure, there are things that make you nervous, but again, surely there are pains you can manage as well. If the pain is not too much, you have enough incentive to live through the pain or fear and make significant gains by taking on the things that made you nervous.
Take It SlowWhen you do decide to move outside your comfort zone, remember to take it slowly. Sometimes we may be too motivated, and you may only find too much discomfort. In such a case, you are likely to react by going further into your comfort zone. So, when you’re expanding your boundary, do it little by little- there is no hurry.
By taking things slowly and within slightly uncomfortable situations, we learn to face our fears. The idea is to take manageable risks, and when we take risks that are small and controlled, we get better at dealing with change. Stepping out of your comfort zone will stress you a little. Ensure this stress is only working to get you to perform better and is not crippling your enthusiasm.
Do Things DifferentlyA comfort zone is also about having a routine environment. Within this routine environment, routine tasks yield routine levels of performance. For example, think of the road you usually take to go to the supermarket. A small exercise can be to challenge yourself to take a new route to the supermarket, or even go to a different supermarket. Do things differently- if you use an iPhone, maybe try getting an Android. If you have never taken a bicycle to work, give it a try. By finding new ways to do these everyday things a little differently, we get used to handling small levels of discomfort. Accomplishing these minor challenges can even feel exciting and rewarding. Therefore, we learn that things, despite being a little difficult, can still be done.
Set GoalsSurely, you have heard about goal-setting before. If you have not, it’s a pretty simple idea. It stems from goal-setting theory, which suggests that working toward a goal is a significant source of motivation – which, in turn, improves performance. By setting goals and then working towards achieving them, you can find the motivation to keep going. Setting slightly challenging goals can help us perform better. Again, the focus here is on slightly challenging, not way over your capacity. It means a little better than "do your best". Let us go back to the example of being shy to meet new people, ‘I will talk to three new people every week’ is a much more effective goal than ‘I will meet new people.’ Click here to learn more about setting effective SMART goals!
Stay Positive and Trust the ProcessThe importance of staying positive cannot be overstated. The phrase ‘Be positive’ gets thrown around easily, but what does it really mean? Being positive means being able to recognize the negatives for what they are. For example, if you feel uncomfortable, you need to have the right attitude that this uncomfortable feeling is expected. You will be afraid you will experience some level of stress and that things will not always work out. Having a positive mindset means that you are not easily dissuaded by these negative outcomes. If you are mentally prepared for these adverse outcomes, and you accept them as part of the process, then, and only then, can you foster a positive mindset. We must go through negative thoughts and negative outcomes when we step out of our comfort zone. Being positive means understanding that this is all part of the process.
Click here to learn more in our post, "10 Positivity Tips to Improve Optimism While Aging"!
Try New Things with a Friend/PartnerPartners will help you keep going. If you have ever stepped foot into a gym, you would know that if you had a friend to share this environment of hard work, you are more likely to keep doing it. This might be true for simple things like attending a concert or even taking a bus ride to some new place in town. Friends give us courage. Something else that a friend or a partner can do is provide us with feedback as well. Feedback is also important in goal-setting theory. If we are striving towards our goal, our friends or partners can give us feedback on how we are doing- what we could be doing better? Even better if you can find a partner who has done that particular activity before. However, you can also step out of your comfort zones together. And after all, it is more fun doing unfavorable things together.
Consider Different Points of ViewConsider talking to someone very different from you. It could be someone that you would not usually come across in your day, someone from a different generation, or someone from another part of the world. By understanding their point of view, you will realize that there are different ways to look at things. Your ideas and attitudes about your long-held beliefs may change. This will help you step out of your comfort zone. For example, talk to someone much younger than you. You may learn about a completely different perspective about owning a car or priorities when it comes to spending money. These different ideas and perspectives will help you broaden your understanding of the world.
Take Up a New HobbyTaking up a new hobby requires you to learn new things. Let's take, for example, deciding to learn a musical instrument. When you start to play any musical instrument, you will do so as a beginner. It will be difficult for you to master the basics that are required to perform well. You will quite often fail, or at the beginning, be very bad at it. However, these experiences will make you resilient, and you will learn to move past the hardship of doing something new. You will begin to enjoy the process. This will help you develop a positive attitude towards new things.
Plan to Get Out of Your Comfort ZonePlanning to get out of your comfort zone might seem a little counterintuitive. However, planning will reduce a lot of stress. By planning to do something well outside your comfort zone, you mentally prepare yourself for the unknown. In addition, when planning to do an activity outside your comfort zone, you may learn that it is not that scary or it is not that uncomfortable. For example, the idea of going bungee jumping might spike your nerves, but during your research, you may learn that bungee jumping is actually quite safe.
Make the most of these tips and explore the outskirts of your comfort zone. Remember that being uncomfortable, and slightly stressed, and afraid is part of the process. So take it slow but keep at it. You will be surprised to find what life has in store beyond the bounds of your comfort zone.
Let us know in the comments below - When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?