10 things to try outside your comfort zone, where the magic happens!
We all like being comfortable- there is no better feeling than the warm inviting feeling of familiarity, surrounded by supporters, where we feel secure in ourselves and our environment. But at a deeper level, we know that the ultimate adrenaline buzz, the rewards, the learning- and (yes the magic!) all occurs when we are pushed so far outside our comfort zone that we are challenged and tested to our very core. When we overcome our fears and accomplish something which we didn't think we could ever face, that is when our souls are truly alive. Below is 10 ways we can live our daily lives outside our comfort zone, to invite the magic in!
1. Invite criticism
As someone who tends to surround myself with ‘Yes-Men’, I remember the utter horror I experienced when I first started receiving business coaching from a very straight-talking donegal man. At first I totally kicked back on his various insights which tended to put a glaring spotlight on my many inadequacies. But then I began processing each of the issues in turn, and realised every single one were absolutely 100% on point. In the weeks that followed, I remembered his criticisms- "get over yourself" he had said when I was intimidated by an upcoming meeting with a big funder or "dress smarter if you want to be taken seriously" replayed in my head one morning as I was getting dressed, when I swapped my leggings for a suit, because of an important meeting that day. Over time, I realised just how much I felt better about myself as a result of addressing so many of these flaws, which I was of course aware of previously-but it was the fact that someone else had also seen them in me, which forced me into taking action. Now, my business coach is a confidant I trust more on matters of work than anyone else, and whom I rely on for sage advice when a difficulty presents at work. We all need people like this in our lives, in our circle of supporters, who make us better people by shining a light on our dark spots.
2. Talking to strangers
Some of us are born with the natural gift of being able to make idle chit-chat to literally anyone but for the majority of us, the thought of going up to a stranger to make small-talk either at a conference, the supermarket or on the train, fills us with nerves. For me, whilst I am naturally bubbly even around people I don’t know, I am often intimidated by approaching people in very senior positions. But actually when you bite the bullet, and do it, you will find that there is always some sort of common ground to discuss. Even better, it is captivating talking to people who are completely unlike ourselves- everyone has inside them a powerful back story to tell. People are absolutely fascinating, so by taking that small risk, you never know who you can meet and can maybe have one of the best conversations of your life!
3. Lead a disciplined life
We often like to think that by leading a life of excitement, spontaneity and lack of routine that we are really living. It is also much easier to comfort eat on sugary foods, watch TV rather than go for a run, or lie in bed an extra hour in the dark mornings rather than having a structured routine- but have we ever considered that all of these things 'cloud' the real living? By focusing our minds and bodies through disciplining ourselves- with healthy food, regular exercise and an early morning rising routine, it allows us to more clearly focus and tune-in to our intuition.
4. Speaking your mind
By speaking your truth, with everyone you meet, and saying how you really feel to family, friends and colleagues, rather than what others want to hear, it is incredibly freeing both to you, but also to the person on the receiving end. This is because when something remains unsaid, both parties will always feel the unspoken tension until it is released by saying it out loud.
5. Admit you messed up, or something is not working
This is another biggie. For most of us, one of our worst fears, is having to admit when we have made a mistake. I think the fear comes from showing weakness and vulnerability in a world which constantly judges us instantly- online and offline. In standing up and admitting when you didn’t quite get something right or if something is not working, it not only builds stronger connection with others but as we do it more often, there comes a point when all the fear is gone- this is when the magic happens. I recently made a decision to walk away from something and the impact was cathartic once I vocalised this to others. Quite literally, my whole body transformed- my face became brighter in the days afterwards, my energy transformed and I felt much lighter in step and began sleeping better.
6. Being comfortable in silence
For many of us, particularly those of us who have extroverted tendencies, the thought of sitting with others (or indeed on our own) in silence, absolutely terrifies us. Yet there is an incredible shift in ourselves when we begin to move outside this comfort zone of chit-chatter and allow our minds to quieten. In doing so, we are able to fully tune-in to our true selves.
7. Reach Out
Some of us are naturally blessed with the good sense to be able to reach out and gain support when we are struggling, whilst others prefer a more self-contained approach, relying on themselves when a crisis occurs. I belong to the latter. Like many in this category, I would rather remain lost for hours than ask for directions in the street or seek assistance to find an item in a store. But actually in reaching out, and sharing our woes, something magical happens by talking about our problems- they become lighter and often even disappear completely just by offloading it!
8. Complimenting others who have taken risks and done something outside their comfort zone
I remember a few years ago, I was standing in the street with my great-aunt listening to some young musicians up in my hometown in Derry. It was clear that they were nervous and quite new to playing in public. During a short break, my great-aunt went up to them and thanked them profusely and told them about how they had brightened up her whole day. As a result, their body language completely changed, and they were like different people playing during the next set. It was powerful to see. I remember saying to her afterwards that she was both kind and courageous to do this- as I was a little shy to do things like this myself, even when I wanted to say something. But she explained, that it was them who were courageous and doing something completely outside their comfort zone- and it was our duty to thank them for taking this risk. Ever since then, I go out of my way to compliment others who have taken risks or done a good job by going outside their comfort zone- and it is truly amazing the power that this can have!
9. Master your thoughts
It is so much easier to dwell on negative thoughts when you are going through a tough time or to obsess over someone’s negative comment. Why do we do this? Maybe, because it means we don’t have to take action- as we fall into a sort-of-hopeless state of thinking, that change is outside of our control. In reality, we do have total control over our thoughts and by mastering these and turning negative or unhealthy thoughts into positive, the moment they appear in our heads, it has the power to completely take us out of a rut. When we change our thoughts, we change our actions, and we change our destiny. We totally have the power within us to do this.
10. Do something which absolutely terrifies you
If there is the ultimate action to take you outside your comfort zone- then it must be to do something which gives you butterflies in your stomach just even thinking about it. The fact that such a thought provokes such a reaction, is a strong sign of the learning which can be gained by facing this fear directly. Whether it is the thought of a sky-dive or giving a speech in public- go on- you can do it!