Moving Outside My Comfort Zone

One of my goals this year is to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. I find it rewarding to challenge myself to try something that makes me feel uncomfortable or to do something I wouldn’t normally do. While that there are many benefits of moving beyond your limits such as enhancing your enjoyment and experience of life, stimulating your brain, increasing your self confidence, making you more resilient, etc., I still get that nervous feeling before doing something that pushes the limits of what I’m comfortable with. Ultimately, as I think to myself what the worst thing that could happen is, it doesn’t seem that bad after all, which led me in part to an “AHA” I had recently.

My “AHA” Moment

This “AHA” moment was that these feelings of fear, excitement, and challenge are totally normal and in fact expected as I was deciding to step outside my comfort zone. On one hand, part of me wants to stay the same, as I like the comfort of doing things that I know are safe and secure. This conservative side of me is looking out for my best interests by not letting me get into potentially dangerous situations. One the other hand the risk taking side of me wants me to grow, change and improve. I had to take risks to get to where I am today, so why should I stop taking risks in the future? This adventurous side of me ALSO is looking out for my best interests by pushing me to grow and improve. And while these two parts of me may seem to be pulling me in opposite directions, in fact they work together to make up who I am and they both have the same goals and desires for myself. Therefore, it is better to embrace them rather than fight against them while recognizing that they have an almost polar approach to doing things.

Baby Steps
So with that being said, I asked myself how I can challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone. After thinking about this for a while, not knowing for sure if I’m ready for drastic action, I’ve decided to take the following baby steps on the these items:

1. Becoming a more active participant in the online community.
I love being connected to the web and reading interesting blogs and websites. One way to get more involved in this community and move from being a passive user to a more engaged used is to contribute more by mentaly expanding my comfort zone of what I do online. So this will involve commenting in forums, interacting with people, leaving comments on blogs, showing appreciation for people’s work, and just treating it more than just a passive form of activity.

2. Read a book with an opposing view
I’ve noticed that many of the books I read have similar themes and views to them. I think that reading a book with a completely different perspective will really challenge some of the assumptions and beliefs that I hold and broaden my perspective on whatever issue I choose to read about.

3. Emailing and calling local people who I wouldn’t normally get in touch with
Similar to #1 in engaging in a community, but this time with local contacts who I can connect with in a local setting. I’m still figuring out all the details such as what exactlly I want to get out of this activity and why I going to do this, but I think part of it stems from the fact that in large group settings, there are times when I feel uncomfortable meeting people for the first time.

4. Doing “unconventional” things
I don’t know how far I’d be willing to go, but one thing that woud feel really weird is a challenge Tim Ferriss describes in his book “The Four Hour Work Week”. It goes as follows: …simply lie down in the middle of a crowded public place. Lunchtime is ideal. It can be a well-trafficked sidewalk, the middle of a popular Starbucks, or a popular bar. There is no real technique involved. Just lie down and remain silent on the ground for about ten seconds, and then get up and continue on with whatever you were doing before. While I don’t know if I would want to do something like the challenge described above, I think doing unconventional things can be a great way to build character and overcome the fear I sometimes get of feeling self conscious in certain public situations.

Conclusion
In the end, I believe it’s the journey that matters most, not the final destination. So I’ll try to embrace and enjoy the ride as I embark on these activities in moving beyond my comfort zone. Finally, I’ve written down 2 questions that didn’t quite fit into this post as some additional food for thought.

Where in life am I being insane (doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result)? AND Where have I gotten too comfortable in life?

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