Brian Tracy said, “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable trying something new.” My blogging friends tell me that everyone wants a multi-step process to reach their goals. Just beyond the edge of our comfort zone lies many of the things we want in life: Change, passion, personal growth, money, and more. Going one step past the edge of comfort—if only one step—can be overwhelming and occasionally nerve-wracking. Yet pushing though your fear and discomfort is fundamental to your success. With that in mind, take this multi-step idea and turn it into a week-long action plan. Beginning with the easy stuff, each day you add another step, and by the end of the seventh day, you will be on the way past the edge of your personal comfort zone. When you feel the momentum starting to build, don’t stop. Keep going, safe in the knowledge that we all have taken these steps to one degree or another. Do your best and if you mess up, just try again. Remember, Life is just past your comfort zone.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
– Neale Donald Walsch
Small doses of kindness
It’s Monday; is there any better way to begin your week by doing something nice for a total stranger? If you are like most people, you live in your safe bubble and give little thought to the day of the person in line next to you. How about doing something, some little thing, to start someone else’s day of on a positive note? Did you know that doing things for people with no expectation of a thank you, compliment, no thought of a return actually feels good? It will make you feel great! Make Monday your day to start breaking out of your comfort zone and do something nice for someone you don’t know.
Monday’s Action Plan: When you are in line for coffee, pay for the coffee of the person behind you. Repeat weekly.
It’s all about the flavor
Yay! You finished day one successfully! Now for day two; did you know that coming out of your comfort zone could include what you eat? Try something you have never tried before. Start with a new dish or spice. You might not like them all and that’s fine. Being open to trying is the goal. Over time, you can tackle completely new cuisines, but for now, just start with a new flavor or two. Try spinach instead of lettuce, or crumbled goat cheese instead of that shredded cheddar from a bag. Or better yet, try some Maytag blue cheese on top of your burger.
Tuesday’s Action Plan: Try using a spice or flavor with your dinner that you have never tried before. (Cheese counts.) Repeat daily.
Break out of the shyness mold
Day three you will build on your previous two successes. Start a conversation with a stranger or acquaintance. It will feel awkward at first. Be sure you are in a safe place, but do it even though it might feel uncomfortable. Nice car, nice kids, some compliment specific to them at that moment. You never know what you will see to compliment until you start to look for it. You may find that amazing people surround you and one of them might just become a friend for life.
Wednesday’s Action Plan: Praise a stranger for something. Repeat daily.
Do they know? Tell them
Do you remember the last time you told a friend or family member how much they mean to you? Did you tell them you loved them? Do they know how much you appreciate them? Life can be cut terribly short and when that happens, any chance to tell them those magical things ends. Even if you come from a stoic family, get out of your comfort zone and tell those special people how you care for them. Use a nice letter, a phone call, an email or—god forbid—in person. Get those deep thoughts out of your heart and into the real world. Let them know how they have changed your life.
Thursday’s Action Plan: Send a card or letter to a relative letting them know why you appreciate them. Repeat daily.
Take the first step
What is your big dream? Did you know about 80% of people in America feel like they should write a book? That is literally millions of people who are aspiring writers. What stops them? They fail to write that first sentence. You don’t want to write? That’s fine. Just take that first step and do something. You have heard me say it before; “you don’t always have to have a plan; sometimes you just need balls.” You want to run a half marathon, then start training. If you want to go back to school, then sign up for a semester at a local college. Take that dream and break it down into things that you can tackle one step at a time outside your comfort zone. Don’t be intimidated by the enormity of the task; just take little steps and you are off to the races.
Friday’s Action Plan: Think of a big dream that is outside of your comfort zone. Break it into tiny goals and pick one that you can start today. Then start it. Repeat daily.
Find interesting things to do
Remember that class that seemed so interesting? Go look in the newspaper or online and find out where it is being taught. Even if it is only an hour a week, you will be doing something new. Classes and workshops are good ways to leave your comfort zone. Meeting new people, learning new things, it all adds and builds confidence. Who knows, you might just find something else to do for a living that doesn’t look so much like work.
Saturday’s Action Plan: Find and sign up for a class or workshop that interests you. Repeat monthly.
Get away from it all
When was the last time you just unplugged? I know that you are always “on” and that you just have to check for that next Facebook post. It is a habit and maybe even an addiction, but it isn’t good for you. Is it your phone? Is it the internet? Just turn the damn things off. Neither of them will help you establish a true connection and both will keep you from having time to reflect on your life and what you want. If you think you are going to “miss out” on something by unplugging one day a week, do you think that it was very important? It might surprise you how unplugging can be outside of peoples’ comfort zones these days.
Sunday’s Action Plan: Have all of your family place their cell phones in a basket and leave them there all day, turned off. Then go out and do something that you all like. Live like it was 1980 and actually talk in the car or restaurant. Skip the pictures you post every day and just enjoy “being.” Repeat weekly.
Now you have a weekly plan; how often you should repeat it? Try it for the first week and you will be amazed at the changes in your life. Try it for a month and you will be well on the way to starting a bunch of new habits. Remember, habits outside of your comfort zone are the ones that will get you to your goals. As these things begin to feel easy, you can pick more challenging activities to try outside of your comfort zone. Pretty soon, you get the urge to try jumping out of planes!
Remember, once you’re there, it’s all about your choices.
SEE A LIFE COACH IN BATON ROUGE
Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative. You can see Frank’s other website, www.frankhopkinlifecoach.com on line as well.