“We can't become who we want to be if we hold on to who we are today,” said Max DePree. Growth occurs when we leave our comfort zone, that place where we feel safe, even if it's just an illusion.
The comfort zone is not just a physical space but, above all, a psychological space and an attitude. Our beliefs, prejudices, stereotypes and the image we have formed of ourselves and of the world are the limits of the comfort zone in which we move.
Limiting ourselves to that space where we feel so comfortable means condemning ourselves to stagnation, so we not only need to take advantage of opportunities to leave the comfort zone, but we should also actively seek and even create them.
There are a thousand reasons to leave the comfort zone, one of which is proposed to us by researchers at Colorado State University, who discovered that one of the keys to being happier and more satisfied in life is to take new risks and live with curiosity.
Exercises to get out of your comfort zone
Each person has built their own comfort zone to measure, which means that to get out of that space you must first know your boundaries, be aware of your limits and, above all, your fears. These exercises will help you develop the right attitude to leave the comfort zone without subjecting yourself to excessive tension.
- Discover a new place. Start stepping out of your comfort zone by taking small steps that don't pose a big threat, just to expose yourself to diversity and get used to change. Make sure you discover a new environment at least once a week. It can be anywhere, a small square, a street you've never traveled on or an art exhibition. The idea is that every time you feel more comfortable with the new and it begins to be part of you.
- Follow a different path. We all have predetermined paths, the ones we practice every day and know by heart. To get out of your comfort zone, a very simple exercise is to choose new paths. It is not simply about changing your path, but enjoying the new and, like a child, discovering the little details that make each place a special place. If you are traveling down a different path but absorbed in yourself, change will be of little use.
- Try something new. Novelty not only keeps us alive, it's also essential for keeping our brains active. A simple exercise to leave the comfort zone is, for example, to try new flavors. You can also listen to a genre of music that is very different from what you usually listen to or choose to read a book of a genre that you have never considered. The dystopian genre, for example, as well as science fiction and fiction, are particularly interesting for detaching us from traditional thinking.
- Do not choose the safe option. We always tend to choose the safe option because we want to minimize risk and have everything under control. But from time to time it is convenient to opt for the less comfortable and riskier option. They don't have to be epochal decisions where the stakes are very high, they can be less important decisions, but keep in mind that only when you risk do you know how far you can go.
- Say "yes" more often to things you wouldn't normally accept. Whenever you say "no" you stay in your comfort zone, holding on to what you already know. Therefore, a good exercise to get out of the comfort zone is to say "yes" more often, especially to those things that you would not usually accept. This positive attitude will help you embark on new projects and adventures or simply have new experiences.
- Decide quickly. Of course, it doesn't have to be a vital decision. Think about those relatively insignificant decisions that you tend to think too much about. When dealing with one of these, simply choose the first thing that crosses your mind, without thinking too much, even if it is something unusual. With this little exercise to get out of your comfort zone, you increase your confidence in your Intuitive Intelligence. You will be amazed to find that eliminating the need to reflect on a decision relieves you and generates a tremendous feeling of self-confidence.
- Do something that scares you. Fear isn't always bad, sometimes it's just an indicator that we're on the verge of something new and unknown. Therefore, one of the exercises to most effectively get out of the comfort zone is to pick out some of those things that scare you and do them. Remember the words of Helen Keller: “Avoiding danger is no safer, in the long run, than being exposed to it openly. Either life is an adventure to be lived boldly, or it's nothing ”.
- Design a new challenge. Is there something you've always wanted to do but, for one reason or another, ended up putting off? This is the moment. Dare to consider a new challenge that really motivates you and look for the best way to deal with it. It can be anything, you just have to find the courage to go beyond your limits.
- Learn something new. There is nothing like learning to break down barriers and discover new things. Think of something you've always wanted to learn and dedicate a few hours a week to it. You can sign up for courses or learn on your own, what's really important is that you divert attention from your comfort zone and create new neuronal connections.
- Consider a contrary position. An experiment conducted at the universities of Winnipeg and Illinois showed that 63% of people would rather lose money than read an opinion contrary to their own. An excellent exercise for leaving the comfort zone is to actively seek out any opinions or ideas that are contrary to yours. Evaluate them without thinking about who is right or wrong, as an intellectual exercise that will help you broaden your view of the world.
- Choose a personal area where you want to improve. Do you want to be more outgoing? Do you want to gain self-confidence? Choose an area you want to improve and get to work. The comfort zone is also full of excuses to continue being who we are, so it's important that you do some inner work that helps you change. Test yourself and establish an action plan to achieve your goal.
- Plan a different and special day just for you. It's about doing something you've never done. You can, for example, spend a day alone so that you can reconnect with yourself away from the stimuli you are always exposed to. The idea is to immerse yourself in a completely new situation for a whole day.
- Use "negative" emotions in your favor. We tend to think that negative emotions are unpleasant and that we should avoid them. But these emotions have the power to stimulate behavior, so we just have to learn to use them to our advantage, instead of considering them as enemies. If you are feeling very angry, for example, take advantage of anger to create art or give your best in the gym. Even stress, when it is sporadic, can become your ally when you have to deal with situations that require an extra dose of energy.
- Let go of control and learn to flow. We cling to the comfort zone because we equate it with safety and control, even if it's just an illusion. Therefore, one of the best exercises to get out of the comfort zone is to learn to flow with events and to let go of control every now and then. Learn to delegate, let others plan a few things, trust those around you more and allow them to take the initiative.
- Delete everything you don't need. Your comfort zone is also made up of all those things that comfort you but don't really need you and just take up space unnecessarily. To get out of the comfort zone, you need to learn to practice detachment, so that you can start cleaning up the house by throwing away everything you don't need.
The key is to take small steps, so you don't perceive stepping out of your comfort zone as something traumatic but rather as an activity of discovery which, even if it contains uncertainty, still represents an opportunity to expand your limits and discover new things.