Let’s start with a short definition 🙂 I would define comfort zone as the secure environment or perimeter in which one evolves without major obstacles or changes. A little bubble that feels like home. Everything sounds familiar, everything is easy and smooth. The stress and anxiety levels are very, very low. And I’m almost falling asleep writing this…., does it feel like the script of a relaxation session to you too? Wake up! Because the magic happens beyond the comfort zone!
I believe that the limit that contains our comfort zone is a subtle mix of our fear of the unknown, our need to control as much as possible in our lives and let’s face it, our laziness to go the extra mile. But you know, you can choose to ignore this limit and decide that only the sky is.
Life can be lived at very different levels. And those levels define your amount of self-satisfaction, accomplishment, happiness, personal-development and consciousness. In the end, the choice is ours to decide what our lives should look like. Between moving to a new city and traveling around the world, the range of possibilities couldn’t be wider. But the fact is: by staying in our cocoon, we’re missing the purpose of life which is to explore the world and ourselves at the same time. Without stepping out of our comfort zone, we’re not taking risks nor implementing change. We’re simply not growing!
When I started talking about my project to go live in Canada, I realized that a lot of people within my own circle also had the dream to live abroad. And it made me realize how fortunate I was to be able to make my dream come true. If I could pick and choose just one thing in my life, if I could find the magic lantern and make only one wish, it would be to live without regrets. And live life to its fullest. Ok, I need two wishes, give me that 🙂
I feel like today, we’re very lucky to live in an era where there are endless possibilities (the means of transportation, the internet, the technology) and less and less barriers (less strict families or cultural rules). When my grandfather pulled out his dusty world map from the cupboard and showed me with a voice full of regrets all the places he would have wanted to travel to, I really had a wake-up call. Living in the 21th century, I had absolutely no excuses not to make my dreams come true.
I started thinking a lot about comfort zone when I read the book “Success Principles” by Jack Canfield. I know I’m spamming you all with this book, I’ve mentioned it in other different blog posts, but I have to admit, it is my bible and my launch pad to an amazing life. And here is what Jack Canfield wrote that striked me: “We have a similar comfort zone for the kinds of restaurants we eat in, the hotels we stay in, the kind of car we drive, the houses we live in, the clothes we wear, the vacations we take and the type of people we associate with…One way to stretch your comfort zone is to bombard your subconscious mind with new thoughts and images – of a big bank account, a trim and healthy body, exciting work, interesting friends, and memorable vacations – as if all your goals are already complete”.
During the past couple of years, I’ve done that a lot….stepping outside my comfort zone. I’ve ran a half-marathon although I hate running (and still do), I’ve quit my job to live in a new country although I had a very stable situation and I took a career break to visit Canada from sea to sea. I’m just a regular women with big dreams so if I could do it, so can you. What are you dreaming about right now?
I’ve been doing a little bit of brainstorming and here is how it turned out. A list of ideas to get very uncomfortable! Ready? Just so you know, you’re on an ejection seat 🙂
1. Try new food and go to different restaurants. My other half and I made the deal a few years ago to enrich our recipes repertoire by testing a new dish every week. Learning by doing, that’s what it is. We weren’t particularly gifted in the kitchen (as a kid, my first attempt to bake something resulted in an almost inedible sugar omelette. My parents were brave enough to tell me it was delicious) but dish after dish, we got better. We’ve discovered so many new recipes in the meantime that I could write the meal planning for the next 3 months and never eat the same thing twice.
2. Try a new sport. I’ve been swimming for years. After a while, I got really bored but I was so used to it that I didn’t realized right away that it was ok to quit and do something more appealing to me. This is how I started Zumba. During the first session, I remember feeling extremely ill-at-ease and I was always staying at the very back of the room so that I wouldn’t see myself in the mirror. Observing myself clumsily mimicking the other talented dancers do a hip swing, all I wished for was the dancefloor to swallow me up. But session after session, hip swing after hip swing, I got better. In two years, I conquered the coveted front raw. And when I was looking back over my shoulder, I could see my beginner self giving me the thumbs up.
3. Read new books. Before I start bombarding you with book titles, may I suggest you something? Make time to read more! Reading is so delectable and plunges me into a state of sheer relaxation but with my crazy schedule, there are evenings where I read the same sentence over and over again and fall asleep. When it comes to reading, I go through phases. At present, I’m into self-development books and biography. As the good ones are so hard to find, I did a short selection of 5 of my favorite mind-blowing books. They are very easy to read and so inspiring. Also, if you have book recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them, leave me a comment down below!
- The 4 agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- The sell by Fredrik Eklund
- How to get the love you want, Harville Hendrix
- The road less traveled, M Scott Peck
- What I know for sure, Oprah Winfrey
4. Change your routine and challenge yourself. We’re creatures of habits and everyone knows that it takes a lot of work, courage and patience to shed an old habit or to acquire new ones. I have developed my own tactic to make sure that I’m always polishing my good habits or adopting new ones. I pick up 3 habits and I jot them down on a piece of paper that stays on my bedside table. Every morning and every night after my meditation routine, I read them slowly to make them “sink in”. During the day, I pause several times to check in with myself and see if I respected my good resolution and if I need to do some adjustments. My 3 new habits are currently pausing shortly before a meal and being grateful for the food I have, being efficient and making good use of my time (less screen time, no social media frenzy, no sitting in the bathrooms for hours) and being aware of my thoughts (I’m focusing on the positive things). What new habit would you like to develop?
5. Meet new people. Beside traveling and reading, there is no better mean to grow and to learn new perspectives than by meeting new people. Since I’ve moved to Vancouver, I’ve been to dozens of Meetups (I’m discovering it only now as it isn’t that popular in Europe) and I’ve met so many incredible people. One evening, I talked for hours with a retired Filipino who was learning French and Spanish. Surrealistical! Now you met me too, but I’d love to get to know YOU! Would you be so kind and describe yourself in 3 words in the comment section down below? Thank you, it means the world to me!
6. Learn a new skill. Now more than ever, things are evolving at such a crazy pace that it is almost deadly not to keep up with it. Social media, digital apps, artificial intelligence, it’s all revolutionizing our world. Challenge yourself and try to learn new skills just like my super modern 75 year-old beloved grandma is. She’s using emoticons and slang in her sms that I don’t understand so I’ve got some catching up to do too!
7. Get better at public speaking. This is so important to express oneself clearly and effectively! That’s an area I could also improve 🙂 Would you like to go to a Toast Masters challenge with me?
8. Live in a foreign country. If you want to expose yourself to major culture shocks and call your world into question, definitely choose that one. I’ve been living in 4 different countries so far and I can’t tell you how enriching and fulfilling that is. Well actually I can and I’ll do it in a different blog post, stay tuned!
9. Take a career break. From where I come from, career breaks are not so popular, at least less than in England, in Germany or in the US. When you have a great job and a steady income like I had back in Switzerland, it can be very frightening to “pack it all in”. You know damn well what you lose. But I did like Jack Canfield suggested “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I’ve been able to take the time to think about what I love and what I want in my life and let me tell you, I don’t regret it.
10. Push back your physical limits and throw yourself into a crazy adventure. A great way to know yourself better and get outside your comfort zone is taking up a new physical challenge. I would like to tell you about one big hairy challenge I’ve taken up lately and I’m still alive. Working for Fisherman’s Friend, I was in charge of the communication of the obstacle race “Strongman Run” (I’m not doing any advertising here) and I wanted to experience it too. During 6 months, I prepared the 25km obstacle race, running 10km a week on average and reading blogs to get mentally prepared. I’ve finished that race – twice! – without a scratch and up this day, I haven’t been so proud of myself for any other achievement.
11. Deepen your relationships. Being vulnerable and opening up fears and weaknesses to a closed one can actually extend your world. If the trust is there, it is something that I would recommend trying. My other half and I have been together for years and we know each other like the back of our hand. And that’s exactly what makes it possible for us to grow. We know we have each other’s back and that’s priceless.
12. Say yes more often to opportunities. I used to say no a lot. Ever since I’ve challenged myself to say yes more often, I’ve seen how richer my life is and how happier I am. I said yes to live in a new country, to try a new lifestyle, to eat differently and to run in the mud. This point summarizes all the other and if there is something I’d like you to take with you, it’s this idea. Say yes as much as you can and live the best life you can.
So, with these thoughts, I would like to wish you all the best in stepping out of your comfort zone! Let me know how it goes for you in the comment section down below. As always, I’m sending you all lots of positive vibes. Cheers!