Culture & Lifestyle
Leaving your comfort zoneDo you feel that you want to change, and yet find yourself repeating the same unwanted behaviour day after day?
Is it just me, or is taking that first step so difficult? Do you also feel that you want to change, and yet, find yourself repeating the same unwanted behaviour day after day? Do you get the feeling that you know what you should be doing and even want to do it, yet somehow you just can't seem to get started? Do you often ask yourself what is stopping you from taking that action? Is it motivation you need to improve? Is it the absence of willpower? Or are you stuck, despite everything?
What makes you hold back your true potential and hold you captive against your wish? Well, the answer is you. Now, don’t get defensive yet, and hear me out: our brains have been evolutionarily designed to seek safety and comfort for survival. So, while rationally, we understand what needs to get done and what needs to change, but the more primitive part of our brain seeks that safety and comfort stopping us from taking action toward anything that is new. Because new is unknown, and unknown is scary.
The brain asks, “Why take that risk and go out into the world when we have this comfortable couch and warm fuzzy blanket where we can be endlessly entertained by our new digital best friend?” Thus, even when provided with a big list of logic and rationality, we stop ourselves from taking that action, especially if the action is something we have never tried before.
In the comfort zone, everything is predictable. This predictability makes you feel safe and in control. When you think of leaving that comfort zone, you are met with uncertainty. And in our minds, this uncertainty is interpreted as danger, which makes you fearful. The fear will eventually make you resist the change and drive you into self-sabotage. It will make your own mind deceive you into believing things like: “Why try? I can’t do it anyways.” But this will only hold you back from doing what you know needs to be done.
So what's wrong with a little comfort? you may ask. Well, while it is perfectly natural, and nothing wrong with staying in the comfort zone, making it a habit of only doing things inside it will make you more and more afraid of leaving it, and you ultimately risk missing out on the life that you have the potential to live. It won’t lead you where you want to go. Because comfort and growth can’t go hand in hand.
But are you destined to be stuck there forever? Of course not. While it may require some willpower and a shift in mindset to learn how to step out of your comfort zone, and it won’t be easy, each step you take to expand outside of it will lead to personal development, learning, and success. And here are a few things that you may find helpful in your journey toward change.
Say ‘NO’ to a boring life
Because this is where your comfort zone will lead you to. You have heard something along the lines of ‘it’s not the things that you do that you do that you regret the most, but rather the things you choose not to do’. At the end of the day, there will always be things we will miss out on, that’s just inevitable. Yet, isn’t it better to keep that list short and live life with fewer regrets? You owe it to yourself to rise above mediocrity and live a life that isn’t boring by any means.
Find what you want to achieve: Are you currently living the life of your dreams? Are you currently your ideal self? Or is there something else you want to achieve and someone you want to become? If the latter is true for you, write down how your current situation and your current self are making you feel, and what you would like to change.
The problem with most of us who are trying to change is that though we know what we want to change, and some even know how to change, very few have a clear ‘why’. Having a clear reason for why you want to do what you want to do can make all the difference. Not only does it provide you with the initial motivation, but it is what keeps you moving forward toward the goal. So while setting that goal and planning the change, make sure you also look out for your ‘why’.
Stop analysing and take action
One of the problems that I personally face when anticipating change is thinking and analysing too much. While it is basic human nature to try and minimise errors by making the next steps as predictable as possible, we fail to recognise that this can sometimes cause our brain to go into that familiar overthinking mode, leading us to feel overwhelmed and eventually procrastinate the entire task just to feel comfortable again. Acknowledge the fact that no matter how much you think and plan, there will never be a perfect time to begin. Just take that single step you see in front of you, and consider each step you take to be a sign of your personal growth.
Dip your toes before you swim
We often wait to gather enough motivation before getting started; and when we do find it, we try to get a lot of work done all at once. But, trying to change too much too soon, on the other hand, might be an overwhelming experience because it creates a lot of uncertainty which leads to a lot of discomfort. It may then backfire as the farther you go from your comfort zone, the stronger it will pull back. So, even though there is just so much you want to achieve and so much piled-up work to complete, just take smaller steps and expand your comfort zone before you take that big dive into change.