I used to try really hard to fit in, go along with the crowd, do what I thought was ‘normal’. I did this for a long time because I thought it was comfortable but looking back I see that it was the opposite of comfort – it may have been familiar but it sure wasn’t comfortable.
Have you ever felt like that? Maybe it’s with a job that drains you or a relationship that feels like it’s past its expiration date. It’s easy to confuse what is familiar with being comfortable but often times when it comes to making changes, those things we think keep us comfortable are actually having the opposite effect…they make us extremely uncomfortable.
And that discomfort is likely a sign that you are ready for something new.
But in order to get out of the familiar, we’ve got to get out of our comfort zone and this too is uncomfortable.
We’ve all got different thresholds for our comfort zones. What may be completely terrifying to me is no big deal for the next person.
And I’m a believer in easing out of our comfort zones. I don’t believe in the whole idea of taking massive action and staying in the constant hustle. For me, that way doesn’t work and it feels exhausting to just think about.
Sometimes those big leaps of faith are necessary but you get to them by taking small steps of courage first.
I like to think of comfort zones as having a range. For example, if our comfort zone is on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is pure boredom, 5 is comfort, and 10 is heart pounding out of your chest uncomfortable, we should be operating between 6-8 to maintain healthy growth in life…where we are pushing ourselves gradually and our comfort zone then expands more and more but at a natural pace. If we are operating at 10 all the time, it’s hard to stay at a centered, sane place…not to mention that can quickly lead to burnout.
If you’ve ever tried to make a change but felt paralyzed in fear you were likely trying to take too big of a step out of your comfort zone. You may be trying to operate from a 10 rather than a 7.
Look at what you want to do and then take a small step out of your comfort zone toward that. Once that feels good, take another small step, and then another.
Here’s how I used small steps in my own life: for a long time I wanted to write but I always considered myself a private person and was apprehensive about sharing my writing publicly. I reached a point though where I realized that the things I wanted to write about in terms of personal growth, my own struggles and what I’d learned may help other people. I started to feel an itch about sharing my writing publicly even though it was out of my comfort zone.
I eased my way into it by first just writing for myself and then, sharing with a few close friends. Eventually I got to the place where (even though it was still scary) I felt ready to share more widely. I had eased my way into the feeling of being ready.
The point is – you should never feel paralyzed with fear from moving out of your comfort zone. It’s entirely possible to do whatever it is you want but you get there by taking one small step at a time and eventually, as your comfort zone expands, those small actions will get bigger and bigger.
The small steps lead to momentum and pretty soon you’ll look at what you’re doing and think how did I get here?!!!
And that thing that used to scare you? You won’t even think twice about!