comfort zone

Would you like to start living an exciting, fulfilling and learning-rich life? No, you don’t need to buy some self-help guru’s hypnosis audio. Nor do you have to sign-up for an over-hyped marketing campaign. What you need to do is simply get rid of the habit of sticking to only what’s familiar, predictable and safe. Every now and then you need an adventure. You need to take risks!

You need to step out of your comfort zone.

Staying within your comfort zone is an unconscious way of setting limitations on yourself. Always wanted to dance for an audience but never found the daring? Well, why don’t you swallow the fear of potential embarrassment and dance your heart out? Privately envious of men and women who seem to exude confident across all social situations? Then volunteer to serve as host of a posh affair and let your natural grace shine. What’s the worst thing that can happen?

The ability to step out of one’s comfort zone may be that missing ingredient that can make you achieve your dreams. Or it can be that something that will give you a pervasive feeling of freedom and empowerment — like you can be anything that you want to be, and able to adapt to anything fate throws your way. It can give you exhilaration, and push you towards new possibilities.

If you’ve realized this is the year of embracing your more exploratory side, then consider the following 7 tips to step out of your comfort zone:

Identify what’s holding you back.

Fear is learned. Kids are naturally daring; throw a baby in the water and it will swim to survive. So ask yourself: where did you pick up your jitters? Did you get embarrassed in high school when you tried something new and different? Are you afraid of failure, scared of proving to mom and dad you can’t do it after all? Identify what’s keeping you from trying out — and seek help.

Wear something absolutely ridiculous in public.

Here’s an exercise that can help you tune out what other people say about you. Find the most attention-grabbing, obnoxious, ostentatious outfit you can find, wear a ridiculous amount of ill-fitting make-up, and plant yourself firmly in the middle of a public place like a park or the mall. At first, everyone staring at you will make you wish that the earth will open up and swallow you whole. But after awhile, you’ll get used to the odd looks, covert whispers and even blatant insults. And once you’ve survived that ordeal, well, you can do anything!

Mingle with people outside your social circle.

Your comfort zone may manifest itself in the company you keep. Are you scared of dealing with strong personalities — people who are not adverse to little “French” now and then? Then take some time to invite these people to dinner or a casual coffee break. You’d be surprised; the people you avoid can actually teach you a thing or two about balancing your extreme tendencies.

Just jump!

Right now, list 3 things that you’ve always wanted to but for some reason, you’ve always had an excuse not to do them. And then outline a concrete plan of action to get there. Hey, you’re not getting any younger! And the world is filled with people who succeeded on the first attempt — so don’t imagine the worst case scenario every time.

Get feedback from someone you trust.

At times, the people who can tell you you’re missing out are the people you interact with everyday. Ask your friends, family members, co-workers and significant other: “Do you see me shying away from opportunities because of personal issues?” The answers may get brutally honest, but then, you can’t change what you don’t know, can you?

Let  go of a strong attachment.

It’s not impossible you’re being held back from trying something new because you’re clinging for dear life to something else. Are you overly-attached to a thing, person or idea? For instance, are you obsessed with your dream of starting a retail business, so much so that you’re blind to other talents that can also be transformed into a lucrative endeavor? Try letting go  — sometimes we need to create space for new experience.

Lastly, start an “out-of-my-comfort-zone” plan.

If you’re like most people, you have trouble keeping resolutions. Well, if this article resonated with you, don’t let the insight enter one ear and exit the other! Create a year-long plan wherein you get to do something adventurous every month. It need not be big — it can be something as silly as wearing your hair down for a change. The key is to experiment, so that you can figure out the good, and get rid of the bad!