5 Ways To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

“Getting out of the comfort zone” is a mantra so popular these days that you can hardly go to any personal development website, podcast, video channel or real life event, without seeing it or hearing it every 2 minutes. Indeed, there is a lot of value in stretching beyond your limits.

Being it so popular, though, this advice can also be a bit misleading. In the sense that you may get out of the comfort zone for the wrong reason, so to speak. Because it is incessantly repeated – almost like a magic spell, a solution for every problem you have – you may get to a point where the mere fact of getting out of the comfort zone becomes the goal of getting out of the comfort zone. Just reach out for something else, always something outside of your comfort zone and once you get that thing, you’ll be fine.

In my humble opinion, the goal is you, not what lies outside of the comfort zone. Or, to be more precise, the person you become in the process of stretching beyond your limits. Whatever lies outside these limits will eventually go away, while the strength you built inside, by reaching that thing, will stay with you forever.

I’m getting ahead of myself, apologies. This post was intended to be just a short list of ways to “properly” go out of your comfort zone, but I got a bit carried away. Now, that I got that off my chest, let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Do Consistently More Of Something

Overloading your system with more of a certain activity will create, in time, enough disruption to get you out of your comfort zone. I routinely use 30 days challenge for this. The main advantage of these challenges is that I’m not fully committing upfront, without knowing exactly what I’m getting into, but I’m committing enough to get a clear idea about what I’m trying. I did many 30 days challenges that resulted in long term changes, like trying raw food (which eventually led to becoming vegetarian), writing every day (which greatly improved my skills) and so on and so forth.

The keyword here is “consistently”. It’s not enough to just do more of something, but do it in a consistent, measurable way.

2. Do Consistently Less Of Something

This is the opposite of the one above. Try to consistently eliminate something from your life, and assess the process. I’m not using 30 days challenges for this, most of the time I go straight to it, because most of the time it’s about toxic things that I want out of my life: the sooner, the better.

This is how I quit smoking, 15 years ago. I just went cold turkey one day, and never got back to the habit. It was so effective, that my body didn’t feel the need to smoke ever since. When I decided to do it, my comfort zone was really shaken, and I’m talking about nausea, cravings, headaches and so on. But, eventually, the skill of ending something cold turkey, and the resilience I built by that, helped me in cutting off many lose ends from my life, in many other areas.

3. Do Something For The Very First Time

About 10 years ago, I did paragliding in New Zealand. It was the first time and it was a frightening experience (for a while, after that, it became an exhilarating experience). This type of “never done before comfort zone shaking” is probably the most unsettling of all. Because you don’t have a way to know beforehand what will happen, and you don’t really know what long term skill you will build.

But still, I find this approach useful, every once in a while. Especially after long periods of plateauing, being it a plateau in business, personal relationships or any other area of your life. It may not bring anything long term valuable (I didn’t become a paragliding aficionado, for instance) but it will shake things off just enough to give you a new perspective.

4. Do Something Random

This is by far one of my favorites. I don’t know why, I think it’s just a personal preference, as I don’t see it “per se” more valuable than any other approach. But I do like to do something completely random and see where this takes me. For instance, when I moved to Spain, in Valencia, I spend hours walking in Ciutat Veilla (the Old Town) and taking a new, completely random street every evening. In a few months, I got to the know that area better than some of the locals.

This upfront engaging with randomness will have a very soothing, long term effect: you will start coping better with anything that you can’t control. And, as you grow older, you’ll realize that you can control very few things in this life, only your reactions, anything else is just happening to you. Learning to expect the unexpected is a skill in itself, and doing something random every once in a while is a great way to hone this skill.

5. Engage In Something So Difficult, That Will Seem Impossible From Where You Are Right Now

That’s probably the most mainstream approach towards getting out of the comfort zone. Think walking on fire at a Toni Robbins event. When talking about stretching personal limits, many people have only this in mind. And yes, it does work, provided you prepare yourself for it consistently. Otherwise, you just set yourself up for some epic failure.

One of these “so difficult, as in impossible” things for me was running an ultra-marathon of more than 200 kilometers. Just 3 years before finishing UltraBalaton, a 220km ultra-marathon in Hungary, I was a sedentary, overweight and depressed middle-age man, and I wasn’t even able to fathom something so big. And yet, step by step, preparing for it day by day, for years, I eventually did it.

If there’s anything I learned from that huge stretch outside of my comfort zone is that, with enough preparation, with enough persistence and with a tiny bit of luck, everything is possible. Like, literally, everything.

And it’s not necessarily about physical limits. It can be in any other area of your life. It can be about making a million dollars (if that’s what you’re missing now) or having a long-term fulfilling relationship.

Even if you can hardly imagine a long-term, fulfilling relationship from where you are right now.

Image by Burak Erk from Pixabay 

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