Is your comfort zone turning into your own personal prison? Are you someone who relates closely to Bruce Hornsby’s hit song called “That’s just the way it is.” For some people, this may be their national anthem. They cherish routine and they don’t like a great deal of change, especially sudden change. Sometimes routine can become ingrained and hard from which to break away. If you feel like your comfort zone may have evolved into a discomfort zone, try employing one or more of these five ways to help change your future by breaking out of your comfort zone.
Pitfalls of being too structured
Creatures of habit often tend to miss the experience. Their comfort zone confines them, making them afraid to try new things. They don’t get a chance to throw caution to the wind and enjoy the moment because they are too tied to routine.
Also common is conflict that arises from people who like things a certain way when they are in close quarters with someone who likes to mix it up. People in a comfort zone tend to protect that comfort zone, whether that zone is a physical place, a mental state or their social beliefs. When someone challenges any one of those areas, the possibility of conflict becomes a likely probability.
Advantages of trying new things
Those happy within the confines of their comfort zone tend to resist trying new things. For someone to venture out of their secure environment, they need to take baby steps and tread slowly. Since it’s not easy to change who you are overnight, we recommend picking one of the five recommended suggestions. Based on how it feels and how liberating it may be, move on to another, then another, until you have broken free from the routine to experience life in a whole new setting.
- Control your own path and schedule.
How many people take the same way to work, day in and day out, work the exact same schedule, then drive home the exact same way? Many people do exactly that. Make it a point to find a different way into work, alter your hours or shake things up a bit. Work remotely one day, if possible, and experience things from a different perspective.
- Create new ways and processes.
Challenge the status quo. Maybe there is a certain way things are done at work that just doesn’t make sense to you, but you continue to do it because it’s always been done that way. Challenge that mentality and create a solution to do that task in a different, more effective manner.
- Identify a part of a system you don’t like and find a way to make it better.
If revamping an entire system or policy seems like too much to handle, take a look at a specific part of a system that you feel can be improved and implement changes. Making small changes over a period of time will give you the confidence to make bigger and bigger changes as you continue to get comfortable doing so.
- Find ways around red tape and bureaucratic situations.
People with a lot of structure tend to get caught up in bureaucratic-type environments. If you feel the system is weighing you down and slowing your productivity, suggest a change for the betterment of your company. It starts with being open to change and considering new points of view regarding old systems and ways of doing things.
- Create energy with out of the box thinking and exploring new possibilities.
This may be the easiest place to start. Do something small but different in your life today. Eat lunch at a different time than you usually do and try a new restaurant. When you go home, watch a new TV show that you have never seen before. While the meal or the show may or may not be good, you will find yourself energized by trying something different and being willing to experience new things.
A personal perspective
Sometimes we don’t even know when we are falling victim to becoming a creature of habit. Though I never really considered myself this type of person, I later came to realize that I certainly had developed some of these traits. I went the same way to and from work, had lunch around the same time every day while working for the same company; repeating that monotony for eighteen years. And it was no surprise that something felt missing during that entire period of my life.
And even when I broke free from this particular job, I ended up a few years later back in sales running a fixed route that visited the same stores at the same time, week in and week out. Needless to say, I didn’t waste another eighteen years before realizing something had to change.
Going against the advice I’ve given here about taking baby steps, I made the commitment to move from my comfortable home town to a brand new state, and landed a job doing something a little different than anything I had done previously. I was energized by the experience. And when that didn’t fully satisfy me in the long term, I did the same exact thing two years later which brought me to the southwest where I live currently.
While moving across the country (twice) may not be the answer for everyone, I am here to say that finally breaking out of my comfort zone was invigorating and filled me with energy. It was like getting a second (and third) chance at life and I look at things in a whole new way now because of it. Believe me, now I’m not nearly as hesitant to try new things, because I finally broke out of the comfort zone. I didn’t just break out, I burned the damn thing down.
It’s good to have a certain level of structure which gives you a “home base” pertaining to morals, ethics and other things that keep you on track. Having structure keeps a person grounded and gives them a personal place from which to view the world. Too much structure, however, can limit what life has to offer. And once you get comfortable, that comfort can spread to permeate all areas of your life quickly.
The first step is becoming aware that you are letting your comfort zone control you. Once you identify this, take a chance and explore new things. Shake things up and you’ll find yourself becoming energized and willing to do more and more new things. To help you get started, read this article about adjusting your vocabulary and start using positive, encouraging words and eliminate phrases such as “I can’t.” Improvement starts with the first step so commit to taking that first step today.