Six Small Steps Out of the Comfort Zone
Change Your Path
Get off automatic pilot. How many times have we driven the same route to and from work without noticing any details or scenery? Imagine if you had to describe your work commute to a stranger using only landmarks you pass? One day make a conscious effort to notice all the businesses, buildings, homes, trees, and skyline along your normal route. Devise a new route. Feel the contours of the path you are taking. Do you notice hills, valleys, curves and overpasses? When you are at a stop light look over at the car next to you. What is the person or family doing? Look at the faces of drivers passing by. Are they smiling, scowling, singing or indifferent? Make eye contact. If you walk or take a bus to work look around and begin to discover new places and faces. Where does the sidewalk end?
Talk to Stangers
Get out of your head. On a busy weekday we not only go to work or attend school we may stop at the grocery store, hair salon, bank, sit in a doctors office, pick up kids from daycare and walk the dog. Enjoy and seek out the many different opportunities to observe and interact with people. When waiting in line at the store notice the person standing next to you. Is there something interesting about them or what they are wearing or carrying? Strike up a conversation. Most of us are so busy inside our own minds, worried about our own problems we don't even bother saying "thank you" or acknowledge the service person taking care of our needs. Look up from the cell phone and look around. There is a whole world of inspiration standing or sitting right next to us if we pay attention. Don't be afraid to say, "hello".
Look With New Eyes. Hear With New Ears.
Get in touch. Get out of touch. If you read fiction, read non fiction. If your passion is romance novels read a war hero memoir. Do you know what it's like to be a woman in Nigeria or a teacher in Japan? Read a book or article from a different political perspective. Listen to opposing viewspoints. If you are Catholic read a book about Buddhism. If you're agnostic read the Koran. Shake up your frame of reference. Try on a friends boots or heels and imagine walking through life in their shoes. Crawl on the floor and imagine your toddlers, cat or dogs unique perspective. Do you love musicals? Watch a crime drama. Engage yourself with a play or movie you wouldn't ordinarily choose. What did you learn? How did it make you feel? Listen to a new genre of music. Think you'll hate Jay-Z or Franz Listz? Have you really listened to them? Who is the hottest musical artist right now? You don't have to love it. You just have to let go and be open to the experience.
Change Your Appearance
Get a new attitude.When someone says, "Hey, Bob. You haven't changed a bit in thirty years." those words are usually intended as a compliment. It could also indicate you're creative spinning wheels are stuck in the comfort zone mud. When was the last time you updated your haircut, wardrobe or make-up? When was the last time you tried a new cologne or perfume? Do you like color? Most of us tend to wear the clothing that makes us feel most comfortable. Clinton Kelly co-host of style show, "What Not to Wear " once observed that we only reach for 20% of the clothing in our closet 80% of the time. Be creative and look for ways to utilize the eighty percent of your wardrobe hidden in the dark. There is nothing wrong with classic colors and timeless functionality. However, if you're ever in a wardrobe rut why not look in the store mirror and say, "What the hell? Let's give lime green a try." If you're not fond of changing your appearance try redecorating a room in your home. Use unexpected accents and colors. Change can be a positive boost for your creativity and mental health.
Taste an Adventure
Get in my belly. We all need food for survival. We all have favorite recipes. It's not tasting new food that traps us in our safety zone. There are countless ways to incorporate adventure when cooking. We can serve up an exotic spicy dish or try a rich creamy sauce. Invite guests to sample your gourmet cuisine. Share a homemade meal with the ones you love. Ask your kids to invent a recipe and make it with them. Post the recipe on a blog or website and get immediate feedback. Selecting a new restaurant is an adventure all it's own. Don't think you'll love Thai? Did you try? We live in a culture where pizza delivery is the norm but even with fast foods don't miss the opportunity to select a new order. Enjoy liquor, coffee, teas, wine or beer? There are countless varieties to choose. Taste a new brand very week. Let's make a toast to a tasty new adventure. Cheers!
Don't make plans.
Get up and go. Part of the reason we get stuck in a routine is because our entire day is micro managed right down to our afternoon bathroom break. Take at least one weekend a month and don't make any plans at all. Get in your car and drive. If you see some place interesting or a little diner calling your name, pull over. Go for a walk in a park or take a hike. Have a picnic. Go to the zoo. Stop by a lake. Go into a bookstore or coffee shop. Be daring. If you need to start smaller go shopping but without a list. Purchase a decadent chocolate dessert or sumptuous mango fruit. Stop and sneak a peek at some of those horrible celebrity magazines near the check out. Pick out a greeting card for a friend or buy fresh flowers. Open yourself to the variety of sights, sounds and smells all around you. One action will lead to another action flowing naturally without expectation. Step out of your comfort zone and step back in to your creativity.