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When I began my blogging journey in 2014, my free WordPress site carried the name “Going Beyond”. A few years later, as I began monetizing my blog and social media sites, the name changed to “Cindy Goes Beyond”. The idea of going beyond remained important to me, so much so that I added the tag line “Living life beyond the edges”. In my writing, I often include the longer version of that statement that reads “Living life beyond the edges of fear, comfort zones and limiting beliefs.”
My whole life journey is encapsulated in that statement. It’s in continually going beyond the edges that I learn, grow and experience the most freedom in a life that I love living. What does it mean to live that way? And why does it matter?
I decided to write a series of posts on ways to step over the edges and into a more expansive life. This is the first…five ways to go beyond your comfort zone.
What is a Comfort Zone?
What is this comfort zone, that we want to go beyond?
By definition, a comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar. In that state, we feel at ease, with low levels of anxiety and stress, and we come to believe that we have some control over our environment.
Using that definition, a comfort zone doesn’t seem like a bad place to be. However, when we choose to stay in that space, we don’t grow. Our learning centers shut down. We get into routines that become ruts. And instead of overcoming challenges by facing them and dealing with them, we find it easier to shrink back into our comfort zones, where it feels safe and predictable.
Eventually, that comfort zone becomes a cage. It constrains our growth and also our creativity, our dreams and our purpose in life. Often fears and comfort zones are connected. The longer we try to control life and keep it safe, the more fearful we become about trying new experiences and about what others think about us.
Although occasionally we take a huge leap beyond the edge, the best way to go beyond is one step at a time. This gradual way of expanding the zone helps to keep anxiety and stress at a manageable level. Every time we bump up against the edge of the comfort zone, we take a step beyond it rather than step back into comfort. How do you know when you are at the edge? You feel the discomfort that going farther brings.
Five Ways to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Ready to live a more expansive life? Excited to discover more about who you are and what you can accomplish?
Try these five ways to go beyond your comfort zone.
Change Up Routines
There’s nothing wrong with creating routines. I have night time and morning skin care routines that I adhere to.
However, with routine comes a tendency to operate on auto pilot. We don’t have to think about what we are doing. The brain and the body get lazy. We’re not learning anything different or challenging ourselves.
Have you ever driven to a destination the same way so many times that you realize you’ve arrived and you don’t really remember anything about the journey? We can begin to travel through life the same way. Dullness and boredom set in.
Shake up your routines. Drive to the park a new way. Or better yet, get there a different way…walk, ride a bike, skateboard or jog. When you notice mindless activities, it’s time to break a routine. Doing so allows you to see things differently, learn something new or discover something fresh about yourself.
Real life example: When I started my blog I quickly settled into a routine of writing approximately 500 words and adding a photo or two. I had a formula that allowed me to write quickly and post. A mentor at the time gently encouraged me to add photos of myself. None of my early blog posts contained photos of me. The reason? I hated having my photo taken.
I learned to move beyond that feeling of discomfort by taking lots of selfies. It’s not such a painful process now. To keep growing in this area, I’m working on creating more Instagram Reels with me in them.
Shift One Situation that Bothers You
I know. It’s easier to complain about situations than to do anything about them. When I find myself bothered about something repetitively, that’s my signal to take action.
What bothers you? And…and what bothers you but makes you uncomfortable to take action concerning it? That’s the situation to shift. Find a way to do something positive and productive rather than complain from the safety of your comfort zone.
Do you dislike injustice? Weep over children in the foster care system? Hate that your local dog shelter is overcrowded? Feel protective of the elderly? Let that indignant energy fuel your actions and propel you out of your comfort zone and into action. And of course, you aren’t limited to shifting one situation. However, start with one and then shift another…and another.
Real life example: I’m very ecologically minded. And yet for many years I only worried about the earth’s resources and how badly we treat our planet while doing nothing. One of my first actions that moved me beyond was limiting the use of plastics. I started with swapping out plastic water bottles for a reusable metal container and eliminating the use of plastic straws at restaurants. I refuse them and simply sip water straight from the glass.
Do Something that Scares You
You don’t have to dive with great white sharks or bungee jump to go beyond your comfort zone, although go for it if these activities both scare you and excite you.
Many common experiences scare people. Speaking in public, singing in front of others, solo travel, going to a movie or a restaurant alone or sharing a poem you wrote all qualify…if doing any of these things makes you break out in a cold sweat.
Overwhelming, debilitating fear we will deal with in another post. For going beyond your comfort zone, make a list of things that you’d like to do or want to try…but they scare you a little. When we step over the edge of comfort the first thing we often encounter is fear. That’s normal. Keep going. Don’t let fear push you back into that small cage. I promise you, fear will step aside when you face it, acknowledge it and move beyond anyway.
You learn so much about yourself when you do something that scares you. Courage is born. And it becomes easier to go beyond the next time.
Real life example: I love to travel, however I only last year experienced solo travel in a bigger city that I’d never visited before. Yes, the night before my flight, I felt fear. A lot of “what ifs” crowded into my brain. I’m so grateful I did it in spite of the trepidations. I learned so much about my capabilities.
Break Down a Big Goal into Small Steps
Tony Robbins says, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” It’s also an important step for going beyond your comfort zone.
I admit it. I’m a dreamer. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if ideas only stay in the dream state, nothing manifests into reality. Make a big goal. Think really big. It’s perfect if it scares you a little bit.
Now break down that goal into small steps. Work your way back to Step One. And then do it. Go beyond your comfort zone and take action. Want to visit Spain? Write down all the steps needed to reach that goal. Make a vision board. Research the costs. Study maps. Learn Spanish. Perhaps your first step becomes: Save $25 a week for Spain trip. Then take that step.
Real life example: Three years ago, I got serious about building my Instagram account. At that time I had 1,200 followers and didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. I created a goal of reaching 10,000 followers AND of learning to use that platform as a way of earning income. I found others to learn from. And I created action steps. Today I have 10,329 followers, an engaged audience and Instagram is the primary way that the brands that I work with find me. Bonus: there’s always something new to learn with IG.
Do Something New
This is hands down my favorite way of continually going beyond my comfort zone. There are so many benefits from learning new skills and trying new experiences. It keeps the brain alert and active. We learn and grow and adapt and gain confidence. And, in my opinion, it’s a fun way to journey through life.
Doing something new every day in 2014 is what launched my blog. New experiences continue to bring me incredible joy.
What do you want to try but fear or discomfort holds you back? Do that. Don’t worry about perfection or what others think or how you will look doing the thing. Just go for it. Take a class. Create. Step up. Speak out. Ask yourself…”How will I feel if I don’t do this?” If regret comes from passing on this experience, then do it. It’s that important. As you try new things, opportunities come for doing more experiences. It’s just the way life works.
Real life example: This is the way I live my life, embracing new experiences. At this stage in going beyond, I often think about something new I’d like to do and the opportunity magically shows up. Most recently, I expressed the desire to experience the Charleston Tea Gardens after I missed seeing them on my last visit due to not having a car. Next month I’m back in the Charleston area and what is located a few miles from my hosted accommodations? The Charleston Tea Gardens. And, I’ll have a rental car this time.
Are You Ready to Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone?
Living life beyond the edges is so much more than a tag line for me. It’s my purpose in life, helping others go beyond even as I continue to do so myself.
I hope these suggestions for going beyond prove helpful for you, if you are ready to leave your comfort zone behind and experience a more expansive life.
Books that help me Go Beyond:
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