Comfort zones are – by definition – comfortable places to be. And unless you’re a complete adrenalin junkie, chances are you like to be comfortable.
Actually, even adrenalin junkies are inside their comfort zone when they’re doing those things that scare the living daylights out of the rest of us.
But near enough all of us have a range of things we do and places we go that are comfortable and it’s rare to stray outside those self imposed limits.
Even if we’d actually enjoy the new things once we tried them.
Here are some ideas to help you get out of your comfort zone.
That’s because most of us don’t like to push the window on our daily routine – it feels wrong and awkward.
If you want to do a quick spot check, clasp your hands together. Notice which thumb (left or right) is at the top. Then swap the position of your thumbs and fingers so that the other one is at the top.
Almost everyone I know who’s tried this says it feels really odd. It took me lots of attempts (the kind of daft thing you do at a self help seminar) to get over that feeling.
And that’s for something as simple as clasping your hands.
But do that a few times until it feels as close to normal as you think you’ll get.
Then pick something else whose boundary you’d like to push and do the same with that.
Small things give you the confidence to move on to bigger ones.
Do it regularly
Push your comfort zones regularly so that pushing them becomes habit.
Most of what we do is habit – from pressing snooze on the alarm clock, finally getting up, brushing our teeth and so on throughout the day.
Think about what you do each day – how much of it do you do consciously? And how much is on a “just because” basis?
If you’re like most people, a good chunk of what you do day in, day out is likely to be close to automatic. So routine that you may not even remember half of it.
So make a conscious decision that you’re going to start pushing your comfort zone boundaries on a regular basis.
It takes upwards of a month to make things a habit so do whatever you need to do in order to make pushing your comfort zones a daily habit and (eventually) part of those things you just “do” every day.
This is a bigger push on your comfort zone.
Go cold turkey on your phone and the internet.
Maybe for an hour (while you’re sleeping doesn’t count for this), maybe for longer.
If necessary, pick somewhere with no signal so you can’t cheat.
Then pay attention to the real world – the one that’s all around you and that doesn’t constantly need it’s batteries charging or a bunch of pixels to change before you can interact.
Don’t try this as your first comfort zone push unless you’re feeling really brave.
Try different foods, a different route to work, maybe a new TV show or movie or piece of music that doesn’t fit with your normal genre,
Personally, I draw the line at sushi or rap but other than that I’ve got a fairly wide range of both food and musical taste. And I’ve been open to new options on both of those for as long as I can remember.
But there are areas in my life – and doubtless yours – where habit has crept in and I’m doing the same things now as I was a decade ago.
Identify one of those areas and play around with what you’re doing. Turn it upside down or shake it – literally or metaphorically – and see what happens.
Or drop it completely and fill the gap with something else.
Try being “other handed” for a while
This is a step further that the earlier clasping your hands exercise.
Use your mouse with the other hand, swipe that screen with a different finger, write or draw with your other hand, kick a ball with your other foot.
You get the idea.
This will feel uncomfortable at first.
But it will have the effect of pushing your boundaries – that’s what that uncomfortable feeling is telling you.
Don’t pick the safe choice next time
It’s way too easy to get stuck in your ways.
It’s thought that the average family only cooks 9 different meals on a regular basis (maybe with one or two others on special occasions). Your breakfast is likely the same every day – possibly different at a weekend, possibly not.
Most of your life will be the same.
Maybe not as obvious as a bowl of corn flakes or a coffee served a certain way. But almost certainly there, safely hiding in plain sight.
Pick a different choice – have a decaff or a skinny (or if you want to be healthier, less skinny) coffee. Buy a different cereal – not just a different brand of the same item – or have some scrambled eggs one morning,
The same goes elsewhere in your life.
Pick something to change and change it. Even if you change back tomorrow.
Because you won’t quite go back to where you were before and your comfort zones will have been subtly pushed.
Make a snap decision.
Do something on the spur of the moment.
Rather than being close to 10% predicatable.
It’s actually fun although you might not think so at first, especially if the last time you were spontaneous you were in diapers.
Again, start small if you’ve been stuck in your ways for longer than you’d care to admit.
Say “yes” to everything
You might have read the book or seen the film Yes Man.
If not, the concept is simple: say yes to everything asked of you for a period of time.
That’s probably not something to do as the first test of pushing your boundaries but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind and if you’re really brave you’ll let your friends know what you’re doing as well.
Go on, try it!
And while you’re at it, download some hypnosis tracks to play to yourself to help push your boundaries more and get the end result of a new, improved, you.