As those of you who follow me on social media know, I recently went on an expedition to a part of the country I had never been before. I was fortunate enough to see things that I had only seen in National Geographic magazines. Growing up in the city, with a family that rarely traveled, this trip was squarely outside my comfort zone. In fact, expanding my comfort zone, was the main reason for going on this trip.
But it wasn’t always like that for me. Like many of you, I was firmly entrenched in box that I created for myself . These boxes can be extremely limiting. We have to realize that nothing great was ever accomplished in a comfort zone. But to really step outside your comfort zone It takes intent and practice. Today, I want to share some strategies to help you step outside your comfort zone and start living life with purpose!
Let’s Face it…Your Brain is Old
To really understand why we LOVE to stay in our comfort zones, we have to understand how our brains work. Our brains have adapted to survival, and in this case, survival means avoiding risks and pain. Whether that’s physical or emotional pain, our brains are often programed to avoid it all costs. Much of the fear or anxiety we feel is evolved.
Even worse, some fears are conditioned are from when we were little nuggets growing up (sorry mom and dad, it’s your fault!) The problem with this heightened sense of risk and pain avoidance is that we often give risks, or more likely “perceived” risks too much weight. So because of that, we stay in our shells and stress about what people think, and what outcomes may be the most embarrassing.
Like any other problem, there are strategies you can put in place to solve it. Here are 3 quick, and actionable strategies to help to you take the first step in living life outside your comfort zone.
1) Fear Setting
Fear setting is an activity I originally learned from my man Tim Ferris of the Tim Ferris Show podcast. Tim constantly produces one of my favorite podcasts, and this is oneexercise I have used several times. Fear setting is an activity to do anytime you have a tough decision to make. Decisions like whether or not to quit a job, or travel to a strange place.
Fear setting makes you right down the task or decision, and then objectively analyze it by rating the potential consequences, potential benefits, and the time it would take to recover. This often put the decision in focus, and makes your realize the benefits of these decisions, usually heavily outweigh the rewards.
**To learn more about fear setting, click here.
2) Realize That No One Cares
I hate to break it to ya, but no one cares about what you’re doing. Now that may seem like a pretty douch-ey statement, but what i actually mean is that you should do whatever you REALLY want to do. Too often our decisions are dictated by what others think, or what we think others will think. Most of what we think as “big deal” to us is simply shrugged off by other people. We magnify other people’s thoughts, and it paralyzes us into inaction.
Instead of doing what we really want and embracing who we truly are, we put on efforts to avoid putting ourselves out there. We hide our true selves, and this ultimately limits our effectiveness.
3) Accountability and Social Pressure
One of the best ways to step outside your comfort zone is to force yourself to create deadlines. Deadlines force you into action. However, an even better way to force yourself into action is to have someone else create a deadline for you. Researchers at MIT found that students who had deadlines set for them received much higher grades than students who set their own deadlines.
Being that many of us are old farts and out of school, we don’t have the benefit of a teacher setting rigid guidelines for us to complete a task. So what’s the next best thing??….find an accountability buddy. Someone who can hold you accountable, and even set deadlines for you.
Say your goal is to start a business, but for some reason (usually fear) you keep stalling and procrastination. Find an accountability buddy who will set a deadline for your business launch and will hold you accountable if you don’t follow through. Having that extra pressure and real consequences will make you get the job done.
They say success is 80% psychology and 20% strategy….I believe the same is true when it comes to expanding your comfort zones. While applying strategy is important, changing your psychology is paramount. Stepping outside your comfort is all about shifting your mindset. Hopefully this post will point you in the right direction.