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So I recently had an experience that inspired me a little bit. This experience showed me that sometimes you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and experience different things. It also showed me that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge or put expectations on a new experience. And also, that sometimes, even when you think something is not going to be fun or interesting, you should give it a try anyway.
A few days ago I was invited to my boyfriends cottage to spend the day/night with his family. I could tell he was excited about it because we are only home for a limited time, and we don’t get to see our families much, simply because we live away. I wanted to be excited too, after all there was going to be food, alcohol and outdoors, all things I love, and his family is also great company. But, I couldn’t bring myself to be excited, I was actually dreading it, and I created this very negative attitude and expectation for this event. I couldn’t shake it at all no matter how hard I tried, and the more I would think about it, the less I wanted to go. The thing was, we have a puppy and they have small kids, and I am an anxious person. Combine all of this, and I created a scenario in my head of me constantly chasing the puppy around so he wouldn’t knock over a child or accidentally jump up and hurt them. I knew I would be worried the whole time and not be able to relax and enjoy myself. I couldn’t shake this negative expectation. I also have some social anxiety, so the more I created these scenarios in my head, the more anxious I became about the whole thing. I created this negative expectation in my mind and then that negativity creeped into my attitude.
So what did I do? Well, I went anyway. The reason I didn’t listen to my nagging negative attitude was mainly because I knew it was important to my boyfriend, but I also promised myself that I would say yes to as much as possible this summer. So I said yes, and I went, and guess what, I had a really great time!
All of the expectations that I created in my head about having a stressful time and not being able to relax were totally false. Initially, I really wanted to give in to my negative perception and stay home, but if I had of done that, I would have missed out on a great time. I pushed myself out of my comfortable little bubble, and I made myself go. And honestly, I am so glad I did.
So, with that experience, I was inspired to write a post about getting outside of your comfort zone. I want to talk about ten easy things you can do to step outside of your comfort zone and ensure your making the most of life!
1. Make a bucket list or to-do list
I personally find this helps me pursue new experiences. If I make a list of thing I would like to try or things I would like to do, I get a thrill out of checking it off of my list. Once I make that list, I have more accountability to actually complete it. So even in times where I’m a bit unsure or hesitant to step out of my comfort zone, I remind myself that it is obviously an experience I wanted to try, or I wouldn’t have initially included it on my list. Once I remind myself of that, I can push past the fear and hesitation and just do it!
2. Make it a challenge
Similar to a bucket list, if I make something into a challenge of some kind, I am more likely to complete it. If I create a 30 day challenge that involves me trying a new experience each day, or I create a week-long challenge where I have to say yes to every invite, than I am more likely to complete it, and step outside of my comfortable bubble of fear and hesitation that usually holds me back.
3. Don’t focus on expectations
Similar to what I mentioned above, I believe expectations can hold us back or let us down. When we create expectations of a situation, we often talk ourselves out of trying or participating in new experiences. Maybe you really want to try something new, but you’re nervous, so you create this scenario in your head about all the negative things that could happen if you try it. We may say no to an invite because we feel uncomfortable. We start to think about how terrible that social situation could be or what could go wrong, and we talk ourselves out of trying something new. Next time someone invites you somewhere, or you want to try something new, I want you to completely let go of any expectations. Simply go into it with an open mind and don’t worry about the outcome.
4. Think of the positives
If you suffer from social anxiety like I do, you probably have an easy time coming up with a million things that could go wrong. Maybe you embarrass yourself, maybe no one talks to you, maybe you say something stupid. Sure, there are lots that can go wrong, but there is also so much that can go right! Instead of stressing about the negatives, focus on the positives! Maybe you go to a party with a friend and you make a really great new connection, which leads to a potential career opportunity! Maybe you go and you engage in a conversation and learn something really interesting. Maybe you finally try a new hobby with a friend you and realize you love it! And, at the end of the day there is ALWAYS learning opportunities in every new experience.
5. Try to have a “what’s the worst that can happen” mentality
Similar to focusing on the positives, try to approach a new situation with a “what’s the worst that can happen mindset”. Honestly, say you push yourself outside of your comfort zone and you try kayaking for the first time, but you really don’t like it. Well, who cares? You got out and you tried something new, and now you know it’s not for you! One thing to check off your bucket list, but you don’t have to love every single experience in your life! That is how we learn about ourselves, we try things, and we figure out what we like by trying these new things.
6. Make plans
A trick I use for getting out of my comfort zone, is making plans with a friend. If I want to try something new, for example, a cooking class, I ask a friend to join me and we set a date and a plan. Now I feel obligated, so even if I’m feeling nervous or hesitant on the day of the class, I don’t want to bail on my friend, so I push myself and I go. What usually comes of this is a fun night with a friend and a new experience in the book!
7. Address the reasons you don’t want to try
So in my example I talked about in the beginning of this post, I mentioned the reason I didn’t want to go out to the cottage with family. Something I have been trying to do lately, is look inward at what is holding me back or making me hesitant of a situation. In this case it was an expectation I put on the situation, and a little social anxiety. When we try to discover what is really holding us back we can break it down and ask ourselves if the reasons are realistic.
In my case, I created this expectation in my head of not being able to relax because I was nervous of the puppy around the babies. But at the end of the day, I had no clue if the puppy would even bother with the kids, or if he would be a complete angel. So when I thought about it, why would I not participate in the fun for a reason that may not even happen. We can always play the “what if” game. What if it rains, what if no one goes, what if I get hurt. Do you know how many things I would have missed out on if I used the rain as a factor in my decision. A LOT. Sure it may rain if we go for a hike, but it may not rain as well. Stressing about the future and things we have no control over will never create a positive outcome. Let it go and take the risk. Don’t let what if’s and fear of the unknown be your excuse for backing out or not pursuing a new experience.
8. Treat it as a learning experience
Trying something new or stepping outside your comfort zone will never be a negative experience, if you look at it from the right perspective. Think of it this way, you will always gain the learning experience no matter how good or bad the actual experience goes. I try not took look at anything in my life as a regret. I truly believe everything happens in life to teach you something. Stepping outside your comfort zone will always teach you something about yourself and about life in general. Change your perspective and focus on the learning that comes from trying new things.
9. Set a cut off time for yourself or have a back up plan
Because I do have a little bit of social anxiety in situations where I don’t know many people, I like to use this next tip to help me overcome it. If I am feeling anxious about going to an event or a party, I give myself a cut off time. What I mean is, I tell myself I will go for one hour (or until 9:30, or whatever time you want to use), and if I reach my cut off time and I’m enjoying myself, then I stay. But if I hit my cut off time and I’m not having a great time, I know I made the effort and I allow myself to leave.
It’s the same if you’re getting caught up in the what if’s or negatives. Create a back up. If you have a great day planned outdoors, but it’s calling for rain, have a back up plan so that if it does rain, your prepared. That way you aren’t giving up on the original plan, or giving yourself an excuse to back out, you’re sticking to it, but your also prepared if need be.
10. Do it for the story
Okay, let’s face it, trying new things and having lots of difference life experiences make for really good stories. I had this AH-HA moment earlier this year when I was having a conversation with someone and she has SO many amazing stories from various trips and situations she has participated in. She grabs life by the horns and is always trying new things. I thought to myself: “wow, what a full life she lives, she has so many interesting stories”.
I want to have that. I want the epic stories and the full life. No one wants to hear about the night you watched Netflix for 4 hours. How do you get a life filled with epic stories? You step outside your comfort zone and you participate in life.
Do it for the stories!
Do you have any other tricks for letting go of hesitation or fear, and stepping outside of your comfortable bubble?! Fill me in below by leaving me a comment!
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