When was the last time you did something for the first time? The rush of adrenaline, the feel-good chemicals that flood your brain, the sense of accomplishment and joy…
This is how it feels to live outside your comfort zone. As a child and even as a young adult, these moments are more frequent. Think about when you learned to ride a bike, jumped off the high dive for the first time, or discovered your favorite hobby or sport because you tried something new. These experiences of newness tend to slow down as we age, but no one said they need to stop.
It’s easy to get stuck in our comfort zone. We stick to tried-and-true routines. Our expectations are reliably met at the same restaurants, fitness studios, and public spaces we always visit. We make ourselves feel safe by saying “yes” to things we know and “no” to the things we don’t. It can make you feel at ease—and it can also confine you.
They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone. It’s your job to make more opportunities to live outside your comfort zone. And it starts with just saying “yes.” Try out some of these tips to start living life to the fullest.
1. Decide what your comfort zone looks like.
Comfort zones are subjective and individual. Generally speaking, everyone has a “comfort zone” and a “fear zone.” While comfort zones encourage calm and familiarity, fear zones bring feelings of insecurity, nervousness, and resistance. Some things are healthy, normal fears. But others are rooted in a fear of the unknown.
Just beyond the fear zone lies the growth zone. When you say “yes” to the things that scare you, you grow as a person. You discover new perspectives, learn to cope with change, and infuse more joy and excitement into your life.
For the simple fact that these feelings of comfort and discomfort are based in experience, they look vastly different on each person. One person’s comfort zone may be extreme mountain biking, and their fear zone may be public speaking. Another person’s comfort zone may be cooking while their fear zone may be heights.
Start thinking about where you’re most comfortable. Then, think about the adrenaline-pumping feats that you fantasize about that will get you outside your comfort zone. Write it down, bucket list-style, if it helps you conceptualize it. Then you can figure out the answer to the ultimate question: What’s stopping you?
2. Make space to say “yes.”
To get more outside your comfort zone, make room in your days for spontaneity. Release the need to control every moment of your day. When we feel the need for control, we often end up adding more stress and resistance that can make life feel more difficult. Make room in your life to say “yes” to surprises and new opportunities that take you beyond your comfort zone. When you let go, life flows.
What are you holding out for? Is there something you’ve been wanting to try but have been nervous to start? What is truly stopping you? When you can tease this apart, you can work through the nervousness and learn to say “yes” to things that could positively impact your life.
Living more outside your comfort zone requires you to conjure up a little bravery and a lot of flexibility. This may mean you need to mentally prepare for spontaneity—that’s okay. Knowing that your plans for the day could change, but not knowing how is part of the excitement. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll discover, or what you’ll taste when you are willing to change up your plans.
3. Find a good “excuse” to do something different.
With a heavy load of daily responsibilities, it can become easy to stay in our routines and let life fly by. Plan to try new things—on your schedule. Dedicate time throughout the month for “growth zone” activities. Stop wishing, and start doing.
Bring a friend along, because whether it’s in or out of their comfort zone, a little friendly encouragement and accountability goes a long way. You’re less likely to bail if someone else is counting on you. And you’ll have someone to celebrate and share these new memories with, too.
Doing things outside your comfort zone can also help you bond with your loved ones. There’s nothing like a little bit of adrenaline to bring people together. For example, use date night as an excuse to try something new with your partner and build emotional intimacy while you do it.
Book a class or seminar on something you’ve always wanted to try in advance, especially if it is nonrefundable. (Sometimes we need higher stakes to show up for ourselves.)
You could even set out to do or try something new alongside something that is within your comfort zone. If you are nervous to go somewhere new, but you feel less insecure while you’re in photographer mode, bring the camera along with you.
Whatever you need to do to commit to doing something outside your comfort zone is perfect.
4. Do things that make you feel alive.
Live life with the goal of creating memories. Do it for the plot of your own story. Romanticize your life, starting right now. If it scares you, run toward it.
There’s little room for “I want to, but…” outside your comfort zone. What’s stopping you from doing what you want, when you want? Go outside and play in the rain—who cares if someone sees you having fun? Try a new food just to say you did (even if you hate it). Call a friend that you miss, even if you’re not sure they’ll pick up. There is always time, in each and every day, to step outside your routine to do what makes you feel something.
Also, let go of the things that make you feel stuck. Are you attached to something because it’s comfortable but dreaming of something different? That’s a crystal-clear sign that you should consider stepping outside your comfort zone. Think about what would make you feel fulfilled and proud of yourself. That’s what you should work on adding more of in your life.
And if you said “yes” and still didn’t like it, now you know. Otherwise, you would’ve spent a much longer time wondering, “What if?” And now, you probably have a fun story to tell.
5. Live without judgment (including toward yourself).
One of the big things that often stops us from doing something outside our comfort zone is fear. And a lot of times, it’s fear of failure: doing it wrong, being judged by others, or being out-done.
Release the fear of being judged by others. You are really the only one judging. And even if someone has a blip of negativity cross their mind, who cares? You will dwell on it for far longer than that person will unless you change your way of thinking.
First off, teach yourself to stop judging others. Having judgmental thoughts doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, but it can (and will) affect the ways you see yourself. Often, the things we feel negatively about in others is something we also feel negatively about ourselves. Shake yourself out of these negative thoughts by replacing them with ones like:
- “It’s so awesome that this person clearly tried something new.”
- “They’re making great progress!”
- “I admire them for facing their fears even though they’re nervous.”
When you give empathy and compassion to others, you learn how to give it to yourself. You should always be proud of yourself for taking a skip, hop, or leap outside your comfort zone. It’s a big deal! You are looking fear and insecurity right in the face and saying, “Oh well. I’m doing it anyway.”
The accomplishment and exhilaration you feel after doing something for the first time and pushing yourself past your limits makes it all worth it. Live for that moment right there, not the fear of being judged for it later.
6. Celebrate, commemorate, and do it again!
As you stretch and grow outside your comfort zone, don’t forget to look back and see how far you’ve come. Notice how much joy, excitement, and learning you bring into your life by saying “yes” more often and living more outside your comfort zone. We wear our pride like badges; make every experience outside your comfort zone into a funny or exciting story that you can wear like a badge of honor. You did it. That’s more than many can say.
This is, no doubt, cause for celebration! Keep track of your firsts and your record-breaking moments. And while you’re at it, documenting them through photos is a fun and lasting way to commemorate your finest moments. Share your most epic stories in a stylish display with Fracture glass prints. As you document your journey, choose your favorite action shots and celebratory moments to print with your choice of a reflective or matte finish and display proudly (as you should!) in your home.
Document your moments of growth and accomplishment! Print your photos on glass.