We find the old adage "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" in many memes and social groups. We can read the adage all we want, but if we don’t take action — if we don’t have faith in ourselves, in our abilities, or a higher power — we will never leave our comfort zone.
First we must determine exactly what our comfort zone is. Maybe it is getting up in the morning, going to work, staying in the cubicle, having little social contact with coworkers, coming home from work, eating dinner, watching TV, and then taking a bath before hitting the mattress. We all agree that work makes us tired both mentally and physically. But there may be a few precious hours to be tapped in the early morning before work or after leaving the workplace. Then, of course, depending upon your work schedule, there are always weekends. The point is we all need to find time to break out, leave anxiety behind, and stretch capabilities.
Have you always wanted to learn to dance, ski, paint, or scuba dive? Maybe there is something on your bucket list that you want to do, but you have not found the courage to step forward and take a chance. It's a new year. Keep the faith. Stepping out and taking risks is not easy, but can be rewarding in the end. Try these easy steps to get out of your comfort zone.
Look fear in the eye. We all have fears, whether it’s bugs, heights, water, or just life in general. It’s always good to be wary and know your limitations, but facing your fears and looking them straight in the eye sometimes can lead to excitement and adventure! For example, if you have always had a desire to learn to swim but are afraid of the water, seek out a skilled swimming instructor — one that will guide you slowly through the process and make you feel comfortable. It’s worth a try!
There’s no such thing as failure. Everyone has faced failure in some way or another. It is part of life and alright to experience letdown and dismay. It makes us grow into charismatic, courageous adults. So you tried something and failed. The fact that you tried and took a risk says a lot about your character and grit. You learned a life lesson. Tell everyone about your experience. They will learn from it, too, and everyone will enjoy the conversation. There’s no such thing as failure if you climb out of your comfort zone. It’s not considered failure. It’s considered a life experience.
It’s okay to be silly. So maybe you want to learn to dance, but you think you look silly on the dance floor with your two left feet. It’s okay to be silly. Ignore rude and disagreeable people. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, because you can. In truth, dancing takes skill and talent. Get up off the couch, out of your comfort zone, find a professional dancing instructor, and dance! Chances are you will wow your friends with your newfound charm as you show them your new dance moves.
Find your niche. My own personal experience may help you. Recently I had the opportunity to facilitate a poetry group at a regional correctional facility that houses felons and criminals seeking social skills for entry back into society. My first response was a definite "No!" No one wants to go into an environment that is so far out of any comfort zone! After a lot of soul-searching and contemplation, I decided to take on the task. It is an unpaid position, totally volunteer on my part, requiring a lot of time and effort. Being a volunteer makes it even more uncomfortable. But the result of facilitating this poetry program has been phenomenal. I am so glad that I took the risk. All of the residents are kind and respectful. The program is in its third year, and we are in the process of compiling resident poetry for publication. It has been a great marketing opportunity for me as well as a way of helping others. Find your niche. Get out there; life doesn’t wait.
Stepping out and leaving your comfort zone can be scary and intimidating, but in the end you will realize your own potential and gain confidence to do the things that inspire you. Use extra hours to hone skills and enhance your life. Check out evening extracurricular classes that spark your interest. Learn to dance, ski, or scuba. Be safe, seek out professional guidance, and go for it! Go ahead. Give it a try. Find a new zone. Keep the faith.