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10 Ways to Break Through Your Comfort Zone

Updated on August 14, 2013

Wikipedia uses the definition of the comfort zone as “a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk”.

Basically, the comfort zone is what results when an exciting person chooses a boring life because they’re afraid of the power of their own magic. It’s choosing to be predictable, not necessarily because you want to be, but because it keeps you from having to deal with the overwhelming amount of fun and adventure that will escape when you open a can of change.

Now, you might feel inclined to deny that you’re in a comfort zone, so here’s a simple test:

- If you’re using responses like “I’m fine, you guys go head”; “I do this every Saturday. It’s ‘my thing’” or “I’m not boring. Fun is relative” … Then you’re probably in your comfort zone.

- If you associate exhilaration with cults, if your friends don’t even bother to ask you out (but come over unannounced because they know they’ll find you there) or if you absolutely dread being asked the 5-year question, then the area that you’re standing in right now is probably cordoned off with the words “comfort”.

Fortunately, life is an adventure that can begin at any moment. Hopefully, yours starts now. So before you deprive yourself of another moment of great experiences, here are 10 ways to break out of your comfort zone:

1. Care Less

This may seem like an inconsiderate statement, especially when everyone could use a bit more compassion. We’re all for that, so that’s not what we mean when we say ‘care less’.

Caring less is:

- Knowing you don’t really have a great voice but deciding that you would be awesome at karaoke.

- Knowing that it is probably socially unacceptable to dance in the street yet having fun while doing it anyway. To dance like nobody’s watching is one of the best ways to care less.

- Not letting the ‘what ifs’ get in the way of what your heart really desires. When you’re in your comfort zone it’s easy to talk yourself out of something by wondering ‘what if?’. What if I get attacked by a duck?

What if I fall? What If I fail?

But what if you don’t do what you really want to do? Then your answer to all your life’s questions will always be the same and in the end you will regret not trying harder to do the things you knew would make you happy.

2. Adopt the rules of Improv

If you’ve read Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants then you would have come across her four rules of improv

  • Agree

“Start to say yes and see where it takes you”. The next time your friends ask you to come with them on a spontaneous outing – agree. You may not know what will happen, but there’s a possibility that it would be amazing. Is it not worth finding out where one impromptu decision would lead?

  • To Not Only Say Yes… Say Yes And

“To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute”

Coming out of your comfort zone means learning to create your own ideas from scenarios and not just waiting for others to decide how things should pan out. Even if you did agree to at least get out of bed for your friends, it’s still okay for you to make suggestions about what you want to do when you’re out the house (for the purposes of this exercise, your choice of activity should not be something that is part of your usual routine).

  • Make Statements

“Make statements, with your actions and your voice”. A factor that keeps many of us from venturing out into the world is self-doubt. You may be comfortable just asking the questions, but getting out of your comfort zone means making the statements, being confident in yourself and your decisions. It means caring as little enough to say what you want, yet caring enough to say it well. Be confident.

  • There Are No Mistakes… Only Opportunities

This one speaks for itself. Going out there, even making a fool of yourself, is never an error in existence. It is an opportunity to learn about yourself and your capabilities and to discover some of the best things happen by accident.

3. Talk to strangers

Most of us have been warned by our parents never to talk to strangers. This warning was meant to keep us from harmful people, being young and impressionable we may have been easier to lure away. Now that we’re older and wiser, we can’t blame our parents for any anti-social behaviour. Talking to strangers now means opening yourself up to people from different backgrounds and social circles. Of course, it doesn’t mean just walking up to random strangers and pretending to be part of their conversation (although, that would be a very funny way to get out of your shell)

4. Road Trip – Without the map (gasp!)

If you can, take a spontaneous drive to nowhere in particular. Take a friend, some change and a camera.

5. Learn something… For no reason at all

Learn something just for the heck of it. Take up dance classes, martial arts classes or an improv class (although, this one would be quite helpful - See no.2)

Learn an instrument or learn a language (like Klingon). By learning something new for no reason, you allow yourself to get out of your usual way of thinking, without putting pressure on yourself to master of any of these skills (unless you’re serious about Klingon)

6. Lose

Do something where you know the chance of you losing is above 50%. Take whatever you’re not good at and put it on the table. Have wobbly arms? Challenge someone to an arm wrestle. Don’t know how to break-dance? Challenge someone to a dance off.

Well, you get the just.

7. Be a dreamer

Part of the reason for being in a comfort zone is that you have forgotten your dreams. You start to accept your current circumstances for what they are and neglect to try to reach for what you once wanted to have.

Make your dreams a priority, even if you start with one small dream/step at a time. Cultivate your passions because they are things that will bring you joy. Slowly work them into your life. Buy the easel, purchase a travel guide, get free courses online or start applying for beginners courses in whatever it is that grows your passion.

8. Set your default response to ‘Yes’ more often

As a comfort-zoner you probably have a default answer that everyone knows you will use whenever you’re asked to do something beyond your mental and emotional district. Forget ‘it’s not my thing’ and ‘maybe tomorrow’. For a few days per week, allow ‘yes’ to be you're more likely answer.

9. Be imperfect… and love it

Perfection is somewhat of a relative term. A perfect pancake is not one that is perfectly round, but one that has the right kind of texture and ingredients. It’s the one that satisfies your desire to have one in the first place (unless you’re extremely particular about your pancakes, in which case you should keep reading)

In the same way, what you do should not be preceded by the desire to get it right more than the desire to get it done. Do what you want to do without worrying how it will turn out. Make mistakes, be a klutz, and embrace your flaws. Don’t worry about what others may think as long as you’re doing what you really want to do

10. Date outside your traditional standards

Your comfort zone could very well be in your relationships too. Be open to dating the men or women that you may usually avoid. For short while, forget the notion of having a ‘type’. When you’re on the dating scene there is usually a lot pressure for you to know what you want and for you to send your partner preferences out to the universe so that you get your exact romantic order at your doorstep… one day.

Well, sometimes it’s just better to date outside the box. Like Forrest Gump says, “Life is like a box of chocolates”. And who doesn’t like chocolates?


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    • Julie K Henderson profile image

      Julie K Henderson 2 years ago

      Bravo. I enjoyed this hub. The idea of saying yes more than resonates with me. Voted up.

    • profile image

      xmzsyn 3 years ago

      yes, i agree. all of this are great. nicee..

      i find this, maube you can add as another reference.

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      I love this, voted awesome. My favorite is "Be a dreamer":) All this is great ways to live life more and explore more things!

    • LisaKoski profile image

      Lisa 4 years ago from WA

      This is a great article. Reminds me a lot of myself a few years ago but my boyfriend has really helped me to break out of my comfort zone, always pushing me to just go out there and not worry about failure or consequences. In some ways, I still keep myself in my comfort zone but, thanks to him, I'm not afraid to go out and dance in public and he's even helped with my shyness a bit (although I'm still pretty shy).

      Thanks for sharing! Great advice.

    • profile image

      alishaus 4 years ago

      Nice article to get something different....

    • Jetstream profile image

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      Always a pleasure to please. It would be greatly appreciated if you would follow us for more interesting topics and Share the articles you enjoy and appreciate.

    • Jetstream profile image

      The Jetstream 4 years ago from South Africa

      Always a pleasure to please. It would be greatly appreciated if you would follow us for more interesting topics and Share the articles you enjoy and appreciate.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 4 years ago from Georgia

      Excellent article. As a person in long term recovery for almost 25 years, my comfort zone has been expanded multiple times and your article gives me ideas for expanding it further.

      Not a formal definition, but my working one:

      Comfort Zone = Complacency.....and that is something I definitely have to move out of to enjoy the richness of life.

      Thanks for all the timely and interesting ways to move out of our comfort zones.