Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
We hear a lot of talk about how life begins at the end of our comfort zone don’t we? Like we can’t possibly be happy and content for a moment because we need to push, push, push…
And whilst I sometimes wonder just how true this is as an absolute (after all, if you do what you always do and are happy and healthy then do you really need to go outside that comfort zone?), it’s often considered a human need to stretch ourselves and to learn and grow. For example, the Human Givens Institute suggest that being stretched in what we do and think gives our life meaning and purpose.
Personally I like to push myself in many facets of my life (although not necessarily all at once!). For example, we’ve just had ‘Hell Week’ at bootcamp where every session is ramped up a further notch and you have to dig deep physically and mentally to get the reps done. I kind of like that, the taking it a bit further, after all, we are all too often far more capable than we think we are and sometimes we need an environment that nurtures and promotes that within us.
This month marks the third anniversary of when I moved into my current office, a change that at that time seemed like a massive leap outside of my comfort zone. Up until that point I had always operated out of complementary health clinics, being around other practitioners and have that support structure. Yet I knew that I had outgrown that set up and the demand for my services meant I needed my own space. Yet at the time of planning it and committing to it, I can remember constantly questioning myself about whether I was doing the right thing or not.
Beyond The Comfort Zone
Of course the office move wasn’t the first time I’d taken that leap into the unknown beyond my comfort zone. It had happened many other times, such as when I relocated from Cardiff to Cambridge, when I ran my first marathon, when I became a Dad for the first time and when I proposed on stage at a Showaddywaddy concert in front of five hundred people (long story!).
Yet somehow the office move seemed a bigger deal in some way because it could hugely impact on my business, which had grown so successfully over five or so years, and, if it all went wrong, could leave me wondering how I would keep a roof over my family’s head. Now, hindsight is a wonderful thing and the move was probably the best thing I could ever have done; it’s allowed me to be much more flexible in how I work and has meant I continue to help hundreds of people year on year. Yet at the time I had an attack of the dreaded ‘what-ifs’….what if it went wrong, what if people didn’t come to the office, what if I couldn’t get the office ready on time (and so on and on and on)?
Here are a few pictures from the official launch party for my office three years ago:
It was a great day and a particularly tasty cake as I remember!
So sometimes we want to be able to cast aside the same old stuff we’ve always done and branch out and move forward with aspects of our lives. We want to break out of our comfort zone and achieve the goals that we have for ourselves.
Within our comfort zone we mentally and behaviourally condition ourselves to operate within certain boundaries. As we do these familiar things we feel calm, safe and secure but it can also leave us feeling unfulfilled, lethargic and living a life with a tinge of future regret about the things we won’t have achieved in life. Yet in the same way that not stressing your body during exercise by doing something different can lead to stagnation in your results, so the same applies to the rest of our lives.
So here are some things that will help you step out of your comfort zone and make the kind of progress you want for yourself:
1) Where is your comfort zone?
Before you step out of your comfort zone you need to assess what are those things that you do in the same old way day after day? Maybe you habitually eat and drink the same things every day, listen to the same music, walk and drive the same routes, watch the same TV programmes at night and so on. Now having had a think about those familiar and comfortable routines you may decide that you want to carry on doing some of them the same way, which is fine. But perhaps there are some areas where you could generate a bit of variety and impetus into your life.
When I’m talking to clients about changing habits and behaviours, we often talk about how we all tend to be creatures of pattern and habit and we generally do the same things in the same ways in similar situations. So start varying those things a bit, they don’t have to be massive changes but just firing up your sense with new sights, sounds and stimulus will start to create a sense of momentum to carry into other areas of your life. Start disrupting those familiar patterns and get your mind to shift from auto pilot.
2) Commit To Your Goals
What are your goals? What are those areas of your life where you want to step out of your comfort zone and make progress? Make your goals exciting and even a little bit scary if you want to extend your comfort zone and then commit to them. Firstly commit to yourself that you will see it through and take action on those goals and then commit beyond that. Getting those goals out there when you interact with others can be a powerful motivator to make change happen.
3) Live Life Like No-One Is Watching
There’s an oft quoted saying about dancing like no one is watching because by adopting this mindset you are free to express yourself, to have fun and to enjoy a sense of freedom. All too often we limit ourselves because we are worried about what others might think of what we say or do or if we ‘fail’ or make mistakes in some (often made up in our own heads) way. So get moving on doing things differently and taking action on your goals as if no-one is watching. Chances are they aren’t actually judging you or thinking negatively of you at all but are rather more focussed on themselves. And so what if others try to discourage you or derail you? That says more about their own limitations than anything you are taking action to achieve.
People often tell me how when there is a crisis they cope with it and deal with it, even if only because they have to. Yet those same people will make up all sorts of things about the little stuff. So remember, whatever challenges come your way as you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll deal with them, you’ll be ok.
4) Use Your Imagination and Focus
Two of our greatest human assets are our abilities to imagine things and to focus. Yet all too often these can be used to focus on, and imagine, what we don’t want to happen! There are lots of things none of us want to happen and probably most of them never will! So instead, start using your imagination to focus on how you want your life to be. Imagine yourself thinking the thoughts, feeling the feelings and taking the actions that will please you and bring you the results you are seeking. Get your mind focused on accessing capability, having courage, handling challenges and creating motivation in your life.
If you have signed up to my newsletter you can use the free Rapid Relaxation audio to help you with this, or why not try my confidence audio or mindfulness hypnosis tracks from my store?
Just doing one small thing beyond your comfort zone each day will have a massive impact on how you live our life, your comfort zone will grow and expand exponentially and, in the same way that I can look back on how my office move was pivotal for me and my business, you’ll find yourself looking back with a glow of satisfaction at what you’ve achieved.
To your success
Hypnotherapy Ely, Newmarket, Online
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