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“Life begins outside your comfort zone” – Unknown Author

So, when was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? It’s a scary place sometimes, isn’t it? As much as I love having adventures – from the perpetual travel bug that I caught way back in 2004 in Switzerland, to my continual quest for knowledge, sometimes comfort zones are great.  Actually, who doesn’t like to occasionally be satisfied with status quo?

 

Why You Should Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

So, why bother? It’s called a comfort zone because it’s comfortable, right?  When life’s so difficult, why make it even more so?  Well, I can think of a plethora of reasons. For example,  learning something new that’s different to your “normal” learning, keeps you smarter as you age, according to Harvard researchers, anyway.

 

Why It’s Difficult

Well, I’d say there are three answers to this question – fear, challenges and control.

  • Fear –    Fear stops us in more ways than most of us are willing to admit.  It’s scary to do something different, but I’ll vouch for how amazing the results can be when you do.
  • Challenges – By the way, it’s not going to be easy to step outside your comfort zone.  However, it’s been worth it for me, every time.
  • Control – Now, this is one I have difficulty losing! If you’re a loyal reader, you’ll have seen this point in many of my Motivational Monday posts.  Sometimes, though, it’s worth losing control and seeing where life takes you.

 

How To Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: 5 Ways

So, I put together a short list of places you can start, if stepping out of your comfort zone is new to you:

 

1.  Travel Somewhere Completely Different

Well, I discovered this when I was 19 years old and moved to Switzerland for the summer, to work as an au pair.  Although the excitement and wonder of Europe didn’t disappoint, I will say that I learned much more than I could have ever imagined.  Now, I don’t simply mean the French I came to Morges to learn. In addition,  I learned about resilience (from 3 children whose mother had just died from brain cancer), family (from many that I met) and courage, as I was determined to learn French, no matter how many mistakes I made or who I had to speak to.

 

2.  Learn A (Completely) New Skill 

In my case, the most recent example I can think of is learning to program/script in Python, Praat (and possibly now, R).  In fact, this brings me to a point I discovered as I was writing this post.  Sometimes, you don’t choose to step out of your comfort zone; it happens to you. Now, as much as I can see the benefits of programming, it’s neither my strength, nor a pleasure.

However, if the Harvard researchers  (and a couple other experimental psychologists I’ve spoken to) are correct, learning a completely new skill will keep your mind sharper, longer.

 

3.  Meet New People – Alone

Friends bring new energy

So, if you read my post on  new friends bringing new energy to your life,  you know that I recently took a ski trip with a group of 12 locals I’d never met. In fact, I decided that since I didn’t know anyone else who wanted to ski, I’d continue to learn myself, with private lessons.

However, I didn’t have anyone to go with. So, I looked on meetup.com, chose a group, and went on a three day trip without even meeting them first.  Wow, was it ever the most refreshing activity I’d chosen since moving to Barcelona three years ago!

Change is great. Step out there, find some new people, and see what you learn.

 

 

 

4.  Dare To Be Different

So, I’ve never really had a problem with being different.  In fact, I grew up around literature, immersed in library books for teens and great classics with non-conformist protagonists.  Being different to “normal” has always been my normal, but it does take a tough, no-care attitude.

Well, if being different is your normal, like me, try something completely unlike yourself.  For example, I went to a calm yoga on the beach class a couple weeks ago, though intense, tough, and sweaty is more my style. Also, I recently started getting massages, which I used to run away from, since I’m not good at relaxing.

Dare to be different.  Embrace a new personality for a day.   You’ll love it, or hate it, but it will be refreshing.

 

5.  Speak Your Mind 

If you’re skimming this post and there’s one part you read, read this and watch this video!  Really, watch it!

Now, for this one, I think you definitely need to watch the video. If you haven’t seen this young girl’s poetry slam about junior high school (middle school, the first few years of secondary school, or whatever you call it in your part of the world). It made me cry.  If this girl can step out of her comfort zone and tell the school how she feels about the school experience, so can you.  The link to the video from Queen Creek Middle School is here.

Well, on that note, I’ll end my post on comfort zones and remind you that you, too, can do it.   In fact, I’d love for you to share your latest adventure stepping out of your comfort zone in the comments below.

Have a lovely and productive Monday!

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P.S. Photography fans, the photo for today’s poster is one I took yesterday in Cadaqués, Spain


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