How do you get yourself out of [your] comfort zone? ~ Wanxuan
Methodologically, getting out of your comfort zone entails doing whatever it is that makes you uncomfortable.
This means doing things that you resist, hate, or even fear. As long as you do that, you will naturally expand your comfort zone.
However, for someone to want to push him/herself out of his/her comfort zone constantly, to always be in the face of discomfort, uncertainty, and resistance, AND be okay with that, there needs be a reason, a spark, a fuel, to drive him/her forward despite resistances. This reason can be a passion he/she is trying to pursue or a vision he/she is trying to realize.
Knowing this reason is actually more important than learning tips and strategies to expand one’s comfort zone, because once you are driven by a vision bigger than you and a force bigger than any other, you will naturally do whatever it takes, including grotesquely expand your comfort zone, to achieve that vision.
For example, I have long been driven by my passion to help others grow. This passion has led me to quit a well-paying job in 2008 (at the start of a financial crisis no less), start up my business from a place of zero knowledge and credibility, unabashedly pitch collaboration ideas to others, be publicly featured in the media, public speak in front of masses (as someone who is a natural introvert), network with strangers, and lay out my life, of all its ups and downs, transparently on my blog.
All these are not activities that I would normally do. All these activities used to be way outside my comfort zone (until I did them and made them part of my comfort zone). In fact, it was not too long ago when I had little interest in entrepreneurship, public speaking, getting media coverage, networking, etc.
Yet, I did those activities, am doing them today, and will continue to do them on a larger scale, because they are necessary to realize my bigger vision of creating a united world. At the end of the day, I want to reach out to all seven billion people in the world and enable everyone to achieve his/her highest potential in life, and I will never stop until that happens.
If it means having to do the most painful and most uncomfortable of things, then so be it—I will do them. If it means having to stretch my comfort zone to the infinite maximum level, then that is exactly what I will do. I will cross whatever the chasms are between me and my vision and make it happen.
If you can identify what is it that you want to pursue, what is that vision you want to achieve, and what is the end objective you want to realize, you can then use that to fuel you in your growth. By letting yourself be inspired by what you want/love to do, you will naturally be okay with doing the things you dislike/resist/hate/fear to realize your dream. You will simply step out of your comfort zone and make things happen. This is a far superior and sustainable approach than blindly pushing against fear for the sake of it.
As for specific tips and strategies to nudge yourself out of your comfort zone, here’s what I have to share:
- Move towards your fear (rather than away from it). This means if you feel fearful about something, then feel the fear, and boldly do it anyway. Your fear dictates the things that lie outside of your comfort zone. By stepping into the emotion of fear, you are literally expanding your comfort zone. Read: How To Overcome Fear (3 part series)
- Take actions different from what you normally do. Every little thing you do that is a deviation from your usual routine is one step outside of your comfort zone. For example, try a different route to work. Order a different dish from your favorite restaurant. Speak to that colleague whom you normally would not talk to. Email that guy/girl you like to say hi.
- Fall in love with discomfort. The whole essence of moving out of one’s comfort zone is about learning be okay with being uncomfortable. Better yet, learn to love to be uncomfortable. Whenever I feel uncomfortable (cue: tingling of spider senses), I know it’s a good thing because it means that I’m growing. I don’t resist that feeling of discomfort; rather, I embrace it.
- Constantly try new things. Make a point to try something new every week. It can be as simple as reading a new book, trying rock climbing, or something. I’m always open to doing different things, as long as they fall within my personal agenda. In fact as a personal principle, I will always give something at least one shot too before I write it off. This is how I came to be a vegan actually—in January 2008, I gave vegetarianism a shot for 30 days just to see how it’s like, and ended up liking it so much that I remained a vegetarian thereafter. I then transited to veganism after a few years.
Related resources to check out:
- Day 2: Design Your Ideal Life of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program— The ideal life which will be the driving force behind your relentless efforts, including breaking out of your comfort zone (again and again)
- Day 24: Expand Your Comfort Zone of Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program — Where I challenge participants to do at least three things that lie outside their comfort zones
- Blind Spots In Personal Growth— Knowing your blind spots and addressing them is part of expanding your comfort zone
And here’s a quote I’d like to end off with: