Scott H Young

10 Tips for Escaping Your Comfort Zone and Having Adventures


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I try not to lead a comfortable life. Hiding inside your comfort zone is a good way to prevent yourself from ever experiencing anything unique, fun or challenging. Pushing past your fears can be tricky, but ultimately, I think it’s what life is about.

Getting Uncomfortable

Instead of just cheery, self-help advice I’d like to briefly explain what I mean by stepping outside your comfort zone. To me, becoming uncomfortable means:

  • Challenges outside your skills.
  • Activities outside your personality.
  • Experiments that question your beliefs.

Although becoming uncomfortable can be used for personal challenges as equally as it applies to public ones, most people think of social ventures when they view their comfort zones. Public speaking, talking to strangers or taking up bizarre new hobbies are just a few different examples. Getting uncomfortable happens when the benefits can be high, failure is limited but fears hold you back.

Don’t Worry About Extroversion, Confidence or Having an Intense Drive

Before I start spewing advice, I’d like to point out some thing I don’t believe are the most important factors in breaking through your comfort zone:

  1. Extroversion - I’ve already mentioned how I don’t like labels of extrovert and introvert. In my life I’ve been labeled as bordering on the extreme of both. Even tests like Myers-Briggs can only give you a representation of where you currently are, not your immutable personality. Before I started public speaking, people told me I was heavily introverted. Now people from Toastmasters say I’m extremely extroverted.
  2. Confidence – Breaking outside your comfort zone requires venturing into the unknown. You can’t possibly have a reasonable basis for confidence when you have no idea what will happen. General confidence in your ability to handle new situations is useful, but this can also be trained.
  3. Intense Motivation – I end up venturing out of my comfort zone mostly on a whim. I like to stress curiosity over motivation. Intense motivation is good for big goals. But for stepping into the unknown, being guided by your curiosity seems to work better.

Benefits of Stepping Out of Your Domain

What are the benefits of putting yourself through what can be a stressful situation?

  1. Growth - Above all, you’ll improve as a person. Stepping into the unknown teaches you, gives you new life experiences and tests you.
  2. Pride - Even if your experience is a complete failure, it feels good to overcome your fears.
  3. Adventure - I’ve found that my success rate with new ideas is unusually high. Sure, I occasionally get a new activity or adventure that turns out to be a dud, but once you push through the initial fears you might find something you love. I went to Toastmasters on a whim, now it is one of my favorite parts of my week.
  4. Escape Boredom – At least it can never be boring. If you use boredom as your mark of failure rather than embarrassment or results, you can inject a lot more enthusiasm into your life.

Tips for Getting Started

  1. Discipline – It can take practice to force yourself to do things that your emotions and body want to avoid. Discipline yourself by slowly taking on more daring challenges. This also means you shouldn’t expect to have perfect mastery over fear. I certainly don’t.
  2. Curiosity - The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. At this rate I expect to be ignorant of almost everything in a few years. Throw away your assumptions about what will happen and get curious instead.
  3. Find a Safety Net – Kids sometimes carry around blankets or stuffed toys to comfort them in unfamiliar environments. Use the same principle with your friends. Bring along a person who will be supportive of you to help reduce the stress. Don’t be afraid to fly solo, but make it easier on yourself if you can.
  4. Open Your Mind – Don’t label certain activities as adventures and others as work. What you are doing right now is an adventure. You will find a lot more opportunities for exploration if you get rid of expectations about the types of adventures you’ll find.
  5. Find Your Strengths, Now Do the Opposite – I’ve never been a fan of so-called “strength-based” approaches to personal-development. Sure people have different talents and attributes, but don’t let that limit you in the types of experiences you can have. Computer geek? Try martial arts. New Age? Try a course in computers.
  6. Take Classes – Courses and organizations are the fastest way to find new experiences. For a low price you can usually learn something completely different. All while meeting new people in an environment that respects change.
  7. Use Your Social Network – People are gateways to new adventures, expand your social network and you can get unusual opportunities you probably wouldn’t have considered before. Becoming friends with a music buff exposed me to new artists and even a concert I wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
  8. Break it Down – Don’t try to tackle your biggest fears all at once. My approach is to pick a decision and try it out. If it was too difficult, break it into something more manageable and try again. If it was too easy, ramp up the difficulty and go at it. If you can’t get up to speak at a conference, try Toastmasters. If speaking at meetings isn’t stimulating enough, try to get engagements at larger events.
  9. Accept the Nervousness – Don’t try to control how you feel. You can feel nervous or uncertain and still move forward. Just repeat to yourself that no matter what happens, you can deal with it.
  10. Make Time – Carve out a section of your day for exploring new ideas and adventures. This website is all about how to become more productive. Use the energy and time you can save and invest it.

Image courtesy of flickr.


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12 Responses to “10 Tips for Escaping Your Comfort Zone and Having Adventures”

  1. James Soh says:

    Staying in our comfort zone is nice term for what I call procrastinate. If there is anything that needs us to get out of our comfort zone, we will usually procrastinate.

    I love your 10 tips. Especially 3, 4 and 8. It helps expand our comfort zone and it makes dealing with unfamiliar event/task easier. Great post!

  2. Boss says:

    hey scott

    nice article i think nothing great can be accomplished within your comfort zone. I have an amazing idea. You should write an article comparing Ron Paul to someone great. something like this: http://www.newstarget.com/021925.html

  3. All 10 Tips is very Useful …………….

  4. [...] 10 Tipps, raus aus dem Alltagstrott zu kommen und Abenteuer zu erleben [...]

  5. [...] 10 Tips for Escaping Your Comfort Zone and Having Adventures – by Scott Yong [...]

  6. C. Petrus says:

    Hi Scott, first off, great post. I’m actually in a position right now where I have realised that in order to get what I truly want out of life, I shall need to start getting out of my comfort zone more often. How fortunate that you did this post right now.

    Anyway, thanks for all your great advice and help. For someone who’s younger, you certainly have a lot of things figured out. =)

  7. Hi,

    I wanted to take you up on the point of extraversion/intraversion. Neither of these terms means shy, sacred or a person who is out there. Intraversion simply ,means that you process the world ‘in your head’, adn extraversion means that you process the world ‘out of your head’. these definitions have come to mean shyness or being gragarious.

    I hev been teaching public speaking for over 13 years, adn am one of the mosty intraverted people you will meet. I have done all the psych test that measure intraversion (Myers_Briggs, Neo-Pie, Ericksons Nertoicism test) adn I come out intraverted on all of them, yet I love getting up on the stage and speaking! What being intraverted has allowed me to do is to refine my ability to think in a very quickly manner, and enable me to haev avery quick witt on stage.

    So intraversion, extraversion, it does not really matter when it comes to public speaking!

    cheers

    Darren
    http://www.executivespeaking.com.au

  8. jeff bliss says:

    Hi Scott, I’m trying.
    I quit the security of an awful job. Even tho I make little money now, I’m so happy I quit drinking. I joined “meet up” and am miserable in social groups. I flunked A test, and learned that i”m “introverted”. I’v allways beaten myself up, for not being popular, and now I’m beating myself up more, for having “introverted” as the extra baggage.
    The above comments say I should leave my comfort zone. Well I try. I go to the social mixers and am misarable. Now I can rationalize my ineptness, and call it “introverted” Wow! I did’t Know the cards were against me, now I really feel like crap. jeff

  9. Scott Young says:

    Jeff,

    I’m sorry about your situation. But, based on this comment, I’d say your current situation is the result of self-esteem and not introversion. Building up self-esteem and self-improvement are what this website is all about. I’d give you specific advice, but there isn’t any. Try reading more articles here and see if you can find any ideas for how you can take control over your social life.

    If you want to contact me personally, send me an e-mail at howtochangeahabit@gmail.com

  10. Tom says:

    I’m actually thinking of doing a 2 week class for teachers here in my district called “Out of Your comfort Zone”. I have been working on this for a few years. I remember the recording artist/producer Brian Eno discussing his approaches to recording and composing. He developed something called “oblique strategies” to help facilitate movement away from a set pattern i.e comfort zone. I use the technique myself. I definately encourage coming up with specific strategies or approaches that can be used. I find that if I simply say “be creative”, or “be curious’, the conscious mind hears that as be creative and be curious. The sub-conscious mind on the other hand, hears that as “do the same thing you have always done.” The commands are too vague. I wish it were that easy.
    I think, at least for me, I need to formalize approaches, to be specific.
    That being said, I can’t say for example “I will be spontaneous today in the following way.” That won’t work. However, I can create the conditions for sponteneity to arise i.e. an approach.

  11. Andrew smith says:

    Hey, Thanks 4 all I am 15 and having problems with school and most of the people at school.so I am trying to adapt to it and get out of my comfort zone do u think this is a good idea. The reason why is because I am so used to old style (plight,kind,and good manners) but that’s not any more. I feel like crap…… It’s not because of u well it is sort of is I found this in my crap day and I tried it and my girlfriend didn’t like it so we got in a augment and than she dumped me and the same day I got home my mother told me that my grandmother passed away in a car accident so yes I feel like crap sorry if it sounds like I’m blaming it on u I’m sorry have a good day. );

  12. […] 10 Tips for Escaping Your Comfort Zone and Having Adventures […]

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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