“If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”
The comfort zone: it’s where most of us live our daily lives. Routines, safe places, a group of comrades we know and work well with, food we already know we enjoy, tasks we’ve completed before, and more. Living in the comfort zone is fine most of the time, but it’s important – crucial! – to step outside of that box every once in a while; to take chances, switch things up, take a risk or two, break one of your self-imposed rules, and just… live!
But how the heck do you do that? If you’re used to doing the same things, you’re never going to break out of that box, or even stretch it a little bit. You’re going to have to do something you’ve never done before. It won’t easy, it might make you nervous, but it will be worth it – I swear.
Another popular quote about this topic: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” And seriously – it does. Here’s some ways that I’ve compiled to help you break out of your comfort zone, whether for a few minutes, a few hours or a lasting time.
- Talk to someone new. It might be someone you work with who you don’t really know too well, a random stranger, your bus driver, or a person you see in the park. All you have to do is say hello. Maybe it’ll turn into a conversation, maybe they’ll shun you, or maybe they’ll say hello in return and it will never go past that. But the thing is, you never know. That person could be your new best friend. After all – everyone is a stranger until you get to know them. (Just don’t be creepy about it!)
- Try a new food. Buy something different at the grocery store. Try a new kind of tea at Tim Hortons. Switch it up a little. If you don’t like it, what’s the worst that can happen? You throw it out or give it to someone else. I wouldn’t suggest trying an outlandish dish at an expensive restaurant because, well, it’s not quite practical to spend an armload of money on something you might not like. But try something new at home, or a small sample size.
- Say yes. We are all guilty of it: we say no far too often. No, I don’t want to try that food. No, I don’t want to go there. No, I don’t want to do that. Turn the cycle around and start saying YES. It’ll help you try new things and open your life to a lot of new experiences.
- Where there is doubt, turn it around. If you’re doubting yourself, stop. Push forward. If you’re feeling nervous and doubtful about doing something, do it. Be prepared to deal with the possible consequences, but take that chance and give up the doubt. Be confident in yourself and go for it.
- Face a fear. This one won’t be easy, and I can’t promise it’ll necessarily end well, but you should try it. If you’re afraid of heights, go on a Ferris Wheel. If you’re afraid of drowning, take swimming lessons. Just try it. Step up and face your fear. If at the end of the day, that fear is still there – that’s fine. Don’t beat yourself up over it. At least you’ll know you tried.
- Expand your knowledge. This may not be the typical ‘comfort zone’ topic, but one part of our lives where most of us certainly have a comfort zone is our knowledge. We’re taught specific things in school, and that’s it for a lot of people. But there’s so much out there. Try learning about a different religion – there’s plenty of them. Read about the history of a country that isn’t yours. See what life is like halfway around the world. Learn about the world because it’s certainly bigger than just your community.
- Read something different. It goes without saying that a lot of people who enjoy reading tend to stick with the same subject matters. “I love romance novels!” or “I’m really interested in science fiction” are fine statements to make, but why not try something different? Instead of reading the same genre over and over, or the same authors or the same subjects in non-fiction… change it up. Check out a new author or a different genre. Goodreads is a great site to get you started with this, because it can give lots of recommendations based on what you’re read (not the point of this!) but you can also view books by genre (do that!).
- Find a way to change. We all have some kind of routine. One day, I dare you to break it. Leave your house ten minutes earlier. Take your evening run a different route around the neighborhood. Eat dessert first. Swap tea for coffee, or vice versa. Put your pants on before your shirt instead of the other way around.
- Travel somewhere new. This might be my favorite suggestion for breaking out of your comfort zone. Pick a new destination. Drive there, or take the Greyhound, or the train, or the Megabus. Walk if you want to. I don’t care – just go. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Experience things you’ve never been through. Take pictures, make journals, meet new people and have a whole new life experience in a place you know nothing about. Get lost and then find your way. Take a rest stop at a diner. Stop at a museum off the highway. Just get up and go.
- Ask someone out that you don’t think you have a chance with. Buy a crazy new pair of shoes. Go to a sporting event that you’ve never been to. Listen to music outside your typical realm. Visit a nursing home. Cook something if you never do, or go out if you always cook. Try a new craft, even if you end up being terrible at it. Dye your hair, or cut it differently. Switch things up, take risks, step out of your comfort zone.
Remember: it’ll be worth it.