The only way to grow – How to break free from your comfort zone

Get out of your comfort zone

Get out of your comfort zone

After a breakup, when trying to get over your ex, the first inclination is to retreat to your comfort zone, that being one or more scenarios where you truly feel at comfort without anxiety or worry. 

For me, it’s eating a pizza and watching old episodes of The Office.  But, as much as Michael Scott’s awkward banter and a slice of Papa John’s put me in a happy place, there’s little to gain from this Netflix binge session. 

Seeking too much comfort is a dangerous proposition.  There’s actually a healthy amount of anxiety required to grow, whether it’s emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually.  You have to learn to embrace that feeling of knowing what you’re about to do extends beyond your level of comfort, and diligently push forward.

So, what do we do to get started?  I’m not suggesting you immediately go and jump out of a plane(although that would be a good way to confront your fear of heights).  This is not about becoming an adrenaline junkie, but rather seeing what you’re capable of.

Let’s start small then.  You likely have a pretty set routine as you go about your day.  Routines are comfortable.  You develop them because you get accustomed to a process that works for you.  So, the first step is to try little things that break free from your daily routine. 

It can be simple as taking a different route to work, preparing a new recipe for dinner, or trying to talk to someone new every day.  The key is to get your brain accustomed to deviating from your typical routine and get comfortable with being uncomfortable(bit of an oxymoron, but it’s so true).

Now you have a taste for the positive change that can come from gently extending outside of your zone.  Let’s take it to the next level. Write down 4-5 ways that you want to push further beyond your comfort zone. 

It could be confronting a life long fear, strengthening a weak attribute you’ve always neglected, doing something that just doesn’t come naturally to you.  Here’s what I’ve been focusing on recently…

Vulnerability – By building the BreakupBro community and drafting the Becoming Bro 2.0 book, I’m putting myself out there.  I’m a pretty emotional guy by nature, but that’s reserved for my close friends and family in most cases.  Here, I’m pulling back the veil for all my thoughts and feelings during a somewhat delicate time in my life.  As a result, I’m becoming okay with being vulnerable, and that’s a beautiful thing

Experiencing other worldly cultures – There’s something to be said for physically removing yourself from your comfort zone and ending up on a completely different side of the planet.  Immersing yourself in a different culture will shock you out of your comfort zone because it’s not physically around you.  I recently took a trip to Thailand by myself which was an amazing experience.  I overcame challenges and explored a new world that opened my horizons in many ways.

Spiritual growth – Over the last year, I’ve experimented a lot with different meditative practices.  For me, meditation was not something that came easy.  My mind races a mile a minute taking me in all sorts of different directions.  The concept of sitting in one place and meditating for even 5 minutes was daunting.  But, I’ve stuck with it and now engage in transcendental mediation for 40 minutes each day and the benefits have been immeasurable for my confidence, anxiety levels, and creativity.  

Physical endurance – Ever since high school, my main physical growth regimen has consisted of bulking up through a series of upper body isolation weight lifting exercises.  About 6 months ago, I finally realized that I had become too comfortable with this routine and joined CrossFit.  That has quickly propelled me outside of my comfort zone by strengthening my legs, back, and core in intense WODs that leave me lying on the floor drenched in a pool of sweat.  But, I’ve never felt better about my physical strength and endurance.

Build your own list and commit to growing in each of those areas pushing each one forward a little bit every day.  One thing that I found really helped was journaling.  Keeping track of your thoughts and feelings as you progress is a great way to track progress and reflect back on.

Time isn’t an excuse.  You can always find ways to prioritize your schedule.  Do you really need to watch the Breaking Bad finale one more time?(well, maybe because it’s fucking awesome), but my point is that there’s an opportunity cost to every meaningless activity that you do.  This comes at the expense of significant, measurable growth of your mind, body, and soul.   

So, don’t let another day go by where you don’t grow.  Push your boundaries constantly with a healthy level of anxiety.  After all, the Kenny Loggins Top Gun classic song was not titled “Highway to the Comfort Zone.”   Get out there and add a little danger to your life.