I heard a couple of different ideas recently about how to get out your comfort zone, and I wanted to talk about what works for me.
The first technique I heard was from the TED talk by Priya Parker on How to Quit Your Life and Reboot. Personally, Priya’s talk didn’t reach out to me – it didn’t give me the “deep life lesson” that I like to get from TED talks (hey, everyone uses them for different things!)
The point Priya makes is that to get out your comfort zone and help yourself grow, you should do things like start singing loudly in a supermarket queue… and carry on singing when everyone looks at you. Or turn the opposite way to everyone else in a crowded elevator, and stay there.
For me personally, these ideas are irrelevant and kind of unhelpful . I understand the aim and what they’re getting at, but I feel like they’re “being crazy – for crazy’s sake!” It doesn’t help me, because I either think they are pointless, or I don’t want to do them, to the point that it makes me angry and anxious (and I don’t need any more of that!)
Yes, I know – maybe I am missing the point of the exercises. Maybe if I tried them, I’d be a convert. Whatever. If someone tells you to jump into a fire, you don’t always have to do it just to see what it feels like or to conquer a fear 🙂
Very soon after I watched this TED talk, I started reading Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek book. Everyone has their opinions on this book, and I won’t go into them here.
Tim recommends the same kind of things:
Get out your comfort zone! It’ll get you used to the things you need to do to become a successful business tycoon, watching the money roll in! (Obviously these are not Tim’s exact words.)
He suggests going up to three people you think are cute, and asking for their number. Even if you’re attached.
I get the idea, again, but I don’t like this example. I’m in a committed relationship, so I wouldn’t be texting or calling this person once I’d got their number.
And how annoying is it when someone asks for your number, and never does anything with it?!
I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had with my friends along the lines of:
If he didn’t like me, why did he ask for my number?
She could have just said no; why did she lead me on?
Why did he bother if he was never going to text me?
So that lost it for me.
Then I read something in a course I’m doing at the moment through Scott Dinsmore (who I love, love, love), and this works much better for me. He says:
Do something where you feel at least mild discomfort, every day.
I love it! Spot on. You’re doing something that pushes you, but it doesn’t have to be something crazy, just for crazy’s sake.
My (pathetic) example 🙂
The other day, I chased a random girl down the street to ask where she got her pantsuit from.
Yes, I know – it’s hardly groundbreaking – most of you could do it without flinching!
But for me, it made me feel a bit uncomfortable just thinking about it.
Going up to someone in the street, hoping they don’t tell you to piss off cause they think you’re selling something…
It made me a bit nervous!
But after I’d done it, I felt a sense of (albeit tiny) achievement. I had felt the nerves, and gone through with it anyway.
(Oh and the pantsuit was from Aritzia, and I just ordered one online 🙂 )
Anyway. So this is now my motto.
And this is what I recommend to you.
Do something that makes you feel at least mild discomfort, every day, if you can (within yourself – we’re not talking physical pain!)
You will grow, little by little. Rome wasn’t built in a day, eh?!
And the best thing is that it can be personal to you. We’ll all have different ones.
For me, I have no problem saying no to someone if I can’t do something. But challenging someone’s opinion – eesh!
How about talking to someone in an elevator when you’re the only two in there (if there is something genuine you can say)? Or telling a stranger you like their outfit?
Telling someone that you were first, if they try to push in? Ordering salad instead of fries, or pop instead of alcohol (or vice versa), when everyone at the table is ordering the opposite?
Try it. Do something that makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. And then again. And then you can make it bigger – something more important.
Feel the nerves, do it anyway, and then appreciate the small achievement you just made 🙂
And after a while all the tiny things aren’t a big deal, and you’re using big things to create the mild discomfort.
I’d love to hear of any mild discomfort situations you’ve put yourself through and excelled at!