When was the last time you got out of your comfort zone? And I’m not talking about ordering prawns instead of chicken in your laksa at Friday lunch. I mean doing something that you’ve never done before or something that scares the crap out of you. Like asking for a pay rise, going to the movies alone, moving to a new city or country, or maybe – just maybe – asking that cute guy or girl that you fancy out for a coffee.
I can just about see you squirming in your seat at the thought!
Often, the only times we get out of our comfort zones is when we are forced, like by a sadistic coach standing over you yelling “Get back on the bar! You do not need to rest!”, by your work making you give a presentation, or by a caring friend who pushes you off the high diving platform.
But the rest of the time, pushing our boundaries and getting stuff done is completely up to us. And unfortunately, it’s all too easy to just go with the flow, day in day out, same old same old.
We like the warm fuzzy comfort of the familiar. And most of us are not wired to want to push ourselves past our mental, physical and social barriers.
But what happens when we stay warm and fuzzy?
We leave ourselves no room to grow. Ideas may come to us, but it becomes too difficult to act on them. We become people who talk about doing stuff, but rarely take action. Our brains go stale, which makes us bored and unhappy. And then…we wake up years down the track and wonder what the hell happened to my life?
Sounds depressing…but it happens. And I know you know it.
So my advice to you is this: Never get too comfortable.
How I Was Inspired
One of the first TED talks I ever watched was by Mel Robbins on forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. I encourage you to check out the video; she’s a great speaker and really funny.
In the talk, Robbins explains that we will never ever FEEL like doing something that doesn’t come easily. She says: do you think an overweight person ever FEELS like eating a salad? Do you think a person in an unhappy relationship ever FEELS like talking to their partner about it?
NO! Of course not!
(I thought about this. As much as I enjoy running, very rarely do I ever FEEL like getting up at 6am to do repetitive hill sprints. Because it sure as hell ain’t easy. So yeah, Robbins does have a point.)
If it’s been a while since you’ve experienced something completely different, then you’re seriously missing out on some magic opportunities to grow and learn. So I think you should take a leap – this week!
How To Bust Through Your Comfort Barrier
- Accept that you will never FEEL like doing something that doesn’t come easily. Yes, it’s totally natural; you’re just like the rest of us. Recognise that it won’t be easy, but know this: the more you do it, the easier it will get.
- Start small. I’m not telling you to go base jumping off the Rialto. Your first comfort challenge could be as simple as making eye contact with people you pass on the street, or signing up for a 5km run, or trying a new class at the gym. Small accomplishments will give you the confidence to build up to bigger goals.
- Say yes to things. It could be a networking event, a party where you don’t know anyone, a fun run, a weekend away, whatever. If the opportunity comes up, commit, make the effort, and just go. As the ol’ Nike adage goes: JUST DO IT.
- Too hard to force yourself? Enlist a friend, partner, relative, coach etc to do it for you. Having support makes a huge difference.
- And my favourite: tell people you’re going to do it. This holds you accountable for your actions. I’ve had people say to me: “If I don’t tell anyone my ideas, then no-one will know if I fail.” THIS IS BOLLOCKS. Where is the motivation to achieve anything with this attitude?
Guess What? It Gets Easier
If you’ve been following this blog, you know I don’t shy away from a physical challenge. After the CrossFit Allstar Affiliate comp, when a few of the CFU guys called out for people to join their Spartan Race team, I didn’t hesitate. Bring it on! I thought. If I could make it through two days of intense competitive CrossFit workouts, I could definitely smash the Spartan Race!
It turned out to be 14km of trudging through mud, climbing walls, crawling through tunnels and climbing hills while carrying stupidly heavy sandbags. With a slippery rope climb thrown in to make us sweat. Here’s me on the day:
Tough as it was, I made it through the race relatively unscathed.
What I’m learning is that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone gets easier the more you do it.
I’ve realised that this is why I keep signing up for stuff. Next up is the Marysville 21km half marathon next week, which will be the longest run I’ve ever done. I am super pumped!
So I Challenge You…To Challenge Yourself
Get out of your comfort zone, and I guarantee that this will happen:
- You will accomplish things you never thought possible
- You will inspire others
- You will make invaluable connections with amazing people
- You will become more confident in yourself
And most importantly:
- You will discover more about who YOU are and what you want to get out of life.
So get out there and do it. And watch the magic happen.
Newsflash! I haven’t posted for a while as I have been focused on a new venture – a podcast. Yes, I have just launched a website – Design Draw Speak – which aims to help design students improve their presentation and communication skills. The podcast is called ‘Presentation Skills for Design Students’, and will be available in the iTunes podcast directory very very soon. I can’t tell you how excited I am! Even if you’re not a designer, I reckon you’ll still love the content, which is about getting confident, communicating better and learning how to deliver a kick-ass presentation. Feel free to check out the Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter.