Why leaving your comfort zone might be your best idea this year
My grandma once told me:
“Your personality is as strong as the challenges you master in life.”
And I always kept this advice close to my heart. After graduating from high school in Germany I decided to study fashion design in the US. Not the most typical approach living right next to the fashionable countries France and Italy one might think, but I had always admired the American way of college education.
So when I moved from Munich to Los Angeles I was pretty much leaving my usual comfort zone in a XXL style with only two suitcases, one oneway airplane ticket and not one person waiting for me on the other side of the Atlantic.
Was I scared? Sure!
Was I overwhelmed? Absolutely (for quite some time).
Did I want to take the next flight back home? Of course.
But most importantly: was it worth it? YES, YES and YES!
And why was it worth it?
My personality and confidence grew with this experience like never before. I basically got to know myself better and trust my instincts more. Besides, I learned to appreciate and value a different culture on a whole new level by experiencing life with new friends and in an unknown surrounding. I learned that no matter where life might take me, I can always make myself feel at ‘home’ and make new friends.
Plus all of this did have a convenient side effect:
after having moved to LA and leaving my comfort zone once, the other moves to New York, Switzerland and Italy were almost as easy as mixing a gin and tonic. No kidding here.
SO… how do you define your comfort zone and how can you step out of it?
In general stepping out of your comfort zone simply means:
You leave your current state of mind, daily routines or current lifestyle to move yourself to new and unknown grounds. This can be a new job, relocating to a new town or even country, starting a new hobby, learning a new language or maybe traveling to a new place you haven’t been to before.
However, to step out of your comfort zone actually implies to step out of it. To order Taiwanese food and to eat it at home, when you usually like to eat burgers, doesn’t quite do the trick. The fun in life is most likely not taking place on your couch in front of the TV (unless it’s Netflix and chill, that’s always worth the couchtime).
While there are so many things you can do to step out of your comfort zone, I would start with little steps first. Moving to a new country, let alone moving around the globe might not be for everyone. Just follow your heart, it will guide you to your own best interest.
Embrace discomfort along the way
Unfortunately we are so consumed with perfect images and the so-perfect-looking lifestyles by bloggers, we tend to forget: they all had to start at square one at some point. Plus they all made mistakes and probably felt a bit lost and lonely in the beginning.
So, whatever a new experience might hold for you, just be aware that there will be times you might feel uncomfortable, lonely and sometimes sad, but it is all a natural process.
AND IT’S OK… no seriously it is. Don’t let fear or loneliness hit you or scratch at your dreams. Only by living through these emotions you can grow your horizon, grow stronger and ultimately live your dream.
Leave the comfort but take the fun
No matter what your next adventure will be, please promise me that you will ensure you are having a good time. Life is so much fun when you experience new things, but if you don’t want to do something along the way, then simply don’t do it.
No one is forcing you and your guilt monsters will have to learn that they have no power over you. Even more importantly: tell them to stay put in their box and ignore them.
For example: you travel to Paris and your friends told you all these places you have to see. You should only go sightseeing and do new things when you really feel like it and if you don’t do anything at all it is totally fine as well. Life is not about checking off your to do list only.
I know you might feel like you need to do it and your guilt monster will try to tell you that you have to because of all sorts of different reasons (because it’s what you do when you travel and what your friends might expect of you, because you won’t be back to Paris soon, because you might miss out, because because because…)
But let me ask you: if you went to five churches in Paris already and you still have four to see on your list, do you think the other churches will release a pure enlightenment to your experience? Unless it is Notre-Dame my answer will be a very simple ‘No’.
Here are my 5 tips for an easy start into your own out-of-your-comfort-zone experience:
#1 Try something new in your current surrounding (most basic but elementary)
How about a new language before you actually move, a new hobby, exploring a new neighborhood in your city, a new gym course, a new evening class to learn something completely unuseful but fun (for example how to make gin).
#2 Travel to a new country you have not been to before
This is always invigorating and so much fun and my favorite part is to stop by a supermarket and to buy sweets, snacks and tea I haven’t tried before. The smorgasboard of food usually accompanies great laughs and sometimes even creates new food loves.
If you want to spice up this experience my advice would be: travel alone. I went to India for 5 weeks on my own. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have done.
#3 Help others on a regular basis
A big part in my life is to give back. It doesn’t have to be a full day, helping someone can simply be grocery shopping for an older person or mentoring a teen once a week. As long as you support a good cause, it will broaden your horizon on a totally new level and it will flush you with positive energy in return.
#4 Add new people to your friends club
I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them. You don’t have to be best buddies and they don’t have to join your closest friends club, but there is always room for a good chat, a nice lunch or a round of drinks. And you never know, you might actually learn something new while you hang out with them.
Furthermore, take a good look at your current friends. Are your friendships lifting you up or weighing you down? And if they are weighing you down, can you fix it or maybe you need to let go of them.
#5 Join friends who are risk takers
This doesn’t imply you starting to smoke pot or to rob the next bank to take a risky maneuver, but to take a look at how other people go about their out-of-the-comfort-zone approach.
What do they do? How do they do it? And what does the experience give them in return? For example a friend of yours actually moved to a new country and you might not be ready for it. Why not ask for advice.
Ready, set, go!
So, don’t take yourself too seriously while exploring new things, it is ok to goof around and to have some fun. And leave your excuses at home, you have to say yes to this adventure.
In case you are interested in more ideas on how to improve yourself and how to have some more fun in life simply check out my other post here.
Can’t wait for your personal out-of-your-comfort-zone ideas and experiences in the comment section below!
With so much love,