Smash Your Comfort Zone!
Previously, when someone asked me to try something new, I immediately spat out all kinds of excuses: “I know I don’t like it,” “I’m not good at that,” “I just don’t want to,” etc. This led me to earning the nickname ‘Comfort Zone Kristen.’ Seriously!
I would automatically reject anything new without even considering it!
I was terrified of the unknown and I took ZERO chances because of that fear.
I know I got this from my mother, who still refuses to try any new foods because “she just knows she doesn’t like it.” Later, I found out that I actually DON’T hate sushi, avocados, and countless other foods just because my mom hates them. Who would’ve guessed!?
Because of this, I’ve recently made a conscious and continuous effort to try things that smash my comfort zone!
Instead of instantly running away when I felt discomfort and fear, I started running straight towards it.
I began seeking out discomfort like it was my job: “That sounds crazy—I’m going to do it!”
So, what are some of the new things I have done this year?
- I did flotation therapy in a sensory deprivation tank.
- I started competing in powerlifting.
- I went ziplining above alligators.
- I took a surf lesson in the Pacific Ocean.
- I sat, stood, and walked along the edge of a cliff.
- I hiked in a forest inhabited by bears.
- I traveled alone multiple times.
- I went skydiving.
Now, not EVERY new thing I tried was amazing and worth repeating—I don’t intend to go skydiving again! But still, each new experience had SOME positive impact on me.
I certainly do not consider myself to be fearless. When I committed to go skydiving, I did not even THINK about what the experience would actually entail until I was up in the plane. The scariest moment was when my tandem instructor and I were standing at the edge of the plane, ready to jump. He asked me, “Ready?!”
I said, “Yup!” with no thought or hesitation whatsoever.
I actually felt incredibly anxious and terrified in that moment, but I made a split-second decision:
Instead of letting the fear take control of me, I took control of the fear and embraced it.
And I didn’t even die. 😉
Trying new things has not only given me some incredible life experiences, but it has helped me improve my overall confidence in unexpected ways:
- Resiliency: My overall attitude has become, “I CAN do this.” I now feel more sure of myself and my ability to adapt to whatever life throws at me. When something ‘bad’ happens, my reaction is more often along the lines of, “Meh, it could be worse and I’ll get through this,” rather than, “This is the worst thing ever! Everything is falling apart!” When changes occur, I find myself able to adjust faster than I previously could.
- Independence: Traveling alone has given me a great sense of independence. My solo-trips have resulted from the idea that, “I want to do this thing. I’m GOING to do this thing even if no one wants to join me, and that is actually okay.”
- Sociability: In social situations, I find myself speaking straight from my heart more frequently than ever. I used to spend the pauses in conversation analyzing how each person in the group may react to whatever I was going to say. Oftentimes, I would spend longer thinking about the potential reactions to my words than what I was actually going to say—then, the moment would pass and I would just stay quiet! Now, I spend that time mentally committing to what I think needs to be said. This change has led me to speaking with more confidence and conviction. As a bonus, I now have more real conversations! I believe this has also helped me become more open and vulnerable about sharing my experiences online.
There is still room for improvement in these areas, but I feel great about the mental roadblocks I have been able to overcome thus far.
On occasion, I still catch myself trying to automatically reject something new. My boyfriend does not hesitate to point out, “Remember when you hated avocados?”
“The more important something is to you, the more resistance you are likely to feel. Resistance comes from great love and great desire.” —Melissa Dinwiddie
When Jimmy Eat World posted their tour dates for October, I was indecisive for a few days: “I could fly to Denver and make a trip out of it, or I could drive 10 hours round-trip to see them in Ohio…”
After I checked flight prices, I decided that Denver had to happen!
So, I took a solo-trip to Denver to go to a Jimmy Eat World concert, hike the Rocky Mountains, and zip-line over the mountains. It was one of my most incredible experiences of my life!
Yes, I did have some fears about the trip—specifically the rapidly changing weather in the mountains and hiking alone, because there are bears and mountain lions in the Rocky Mountains. However, I did everything I possibly could to be safe. Wildlife and weather certainly did not frighten me out of a beautiful experience.
Having courage is about not knowing exactly what will happen next, but pursuing forwards despite that uncertainty.
That’s life, isn’t it?
So, you want to smash your comfort zone, but you don’t know where to start?
- Start with the small stuff. Try ANYTHING new. I started with trying flotation therapy. Maybe you can start by going to a fitness class at a gym/studio you’ve never been to, cooking a meal you’ve never made, or learning about something you know very little about. Do things that make you a little uncomfortable, and do those things often! Try progressing towards things that give you a little more discomfort each time.
- Then, think bigger! Is there something that you feel a lot of resistance towards, but some part of you wants to do it? Analyze where you currently are. What is stopping you from going towards it? Do you need to save money, practice more often, or just make the commitment? Think about the things that would get you closer to doing that thing. Make a plan and make progress towards the end-goal.
- Make a commitment and stay accountable. Once you fully decide to do the thing, COMMIT to it 100%. Put it on your calendar, book it, or pay for it! Tell yourself, “I’m going to do this thing!” After you fully commit to the thing, stick with your decision. To further hold yourself accountable, tell at least one person that you’re going to do it.
- Do the thing! Then, write about how it made you feel. What did you get out of the experience? Do you want to do more of that thing, try something slightly different, or go in a different direction entirely?
- Understand that it is a process. Like health and fitness, the process of improving the way you handle discomfort does not happen overnight, nor will your progress be a perfect upward trajectory. Realize that is OKAY. It takes time and continuous effort, but it is worth it! You won’t fall in love with or succeed at every single new thing you try. However, I’m certain you will come out of each experience with a story to tell!
What is one thing you’re going to do in the effort to smash your comfort zone? Send me a message or let me know in the comments below!
“That fear is the thing that you need to be running towards, because that’s the thing that is speaking the most to you. If you didn’t fear it, that would mean that the stakes weren’t high enough to merit that fear. When the fear is strongest it’s because that’s the thing that is calling to you. ‘This is the thing that means the most to me and therefore, if I fail at it, it will hurt the most.’ But it hurts more, I think, to not have tried.” —Michael Ian Black
What are you waiting for?