How to Leave Your Comfort Zone… Without Leaving Home
BY Hope Koppelman December 18, 2014
When we crave change, we crave a change of the scenery and situations we’ve been a part of for so long. We crave new. We crave exciting. We crave different. All of these things can be created right away by making changes to our lives as they are right now. We don’t have to jump on a plane to another country or go back to college or start a new career to leave our comfort zone. We can start leaving our comfort zone TODAY, this moment, regardless of where we are.
- Change your daily/weekly routine.
I started taking Friday’s off. At first it seemed impossible, like something I could only do 5 or 10 years in the future, after I became more settled and established. But one day at work I thought, why not? Why can’t I at least ask? What’s the worst thing that could happen? So I walked into my boss's office without any preparation, and I asked him: Would it be alright if I start taking Friday’s off to write? To my great surprise, he said yes. That was the beginning of my transition into becoming a serious writer. The difference in lifestyle between working 4 days a week versus 5 days a week is incredible. The work-life balance completely shifted. I felt like I had time for a life. And most important for me, I had time to write. Looking back on it now, it was a fairly small change (working one day less a week), but it created a massive shift in my life and how I felt about my life at that time. Consider taking an hour off every day, or a day off every week, or every other week, or every month, to do what you really love to do. Changing our daily or weekly routine is an awesome way to take us out of our comfort zone and break the cycle of stagnation.
- Start a new practice.
I started a daily yoga practice. This was one of the most life-changing decisions I’ve ever made. I had heard of yoga, but I really didn’t know anything about it. So one day I decided to just try it… I thought I might like it, but I never expected to fall completely and totally in love with it. My whole life changed when I discovered yoga. I fell in love, and when you fall in love (with a person, a place, or a thing) everything else changes. Starting a new practice can apply to anything - yoga, meditation, exercising, writing, playing an instrument, joining a local meet-up group, taking daily walks... whatever it is, adding a new daily routine to your life (even if it's just for 15-30 minutes) is life-changing in itself, and it will almost always lead to more than we initially expected.
- Make new friends.
This was daunting for me, because I’m a really shy person. I felt super lonely living in Orlando, FL and I found it difficult to meet people who I could connect with on a deeper level. But the moment I resolved to make more friends, something changed in me. Something opened up that was previously closed. I became more open, more vulnerable, more curious about people. My guard came down. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything differently, I still stuck to my same routine, but I was acting differently within my routine and people could sense it. There was a willingness on my part to connect and communicate with people and that was the bridge that allowed for deeper connections and relationships. Over the course of a year, I made a handful of wonderful, potentially life-long friends. Some of them were people who I had met for the very first time (at my yoga class, at a bar listening to live music, at a free TED Talks event) and others were people who I already knew, and my relationships with them deepened. Making new friends is one of the quickest ways to add excitement to our lives, because it introduces us to interesting people who can open our eyes to new perspectives, new adventures, new opportunities, new ideas, and new possibilities we've never considered before.
- Buy a calendar and get creative.
When my life seemed sooooo boring, I decided to map out the life I wanted to have on a calendar and hang it on my wall as a reminder to do those things. It’s much easier to map out the changes you want to make in advance then it is to just spontaneously do them. Change requires intention and planning, so I bought a calendar and I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do with my time. I first wrote down all of the things that I already had planned (yoga teacher training weekends, concerts I had already bought tickets to). After that, I started thinking about what I wanted to do… what would be beneficial to me… what would be fun and exciting… what would challenge me? I knew that I wanted to take a trip by myself that year, although I didn’t know where… so I narrowed it down to the best of my ability and wrote down all the places I might consider going: France; Spain; Switzerland. I wrote down things that I wanted to do on the weekends: Go to the beach; get a massage; write in Starbucks (yikes, and be one of those people? Yep!); try some yoga classes at a new studio; go to the museum. None of these things were crazy, but they were all new to me, so they all took me out of my comfort zone and into new places I had never been before. Get creative! Start planning! Use your imagination! Brainstorm! The possibilities are truly endless.
Leaving our comfort zone doesn’t require leaving the country or our jobs or our families. It just requires stepping into new territory where we already are (and there is sooooo much of it, regardless of where we are). It doesn’t matter if we live in the city or in the middle of the country; there is always new life to experience.
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