Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. Brian Tracy

An important aspect of self-development is to know when it is time to change something about yourself. When you change, you often become more knowledgeable, skilled, and comfortable with a particular task or situation. Nonetheless, any kind of change, even if it will make your life more enjoyable in the long-run, can be difficult because it involves stepping out of your comfort zone.

How can you reduce that discomfort?

For most of us, the more you push yourself to step out of your comfort zone, the more you gain, and the easier it becomes. The more you gain, the more likely it is that you’ll be willing to push yourself again in the future. Here are a few suggestions about how to step out of your comfort zone:

1. Do something new once a week. Do not get stuck in a rut. Instead, open your mind to new and original ideas and experiences. Engage in a new activity every 7 days or so. Perhaps you will want to try reading a biography instead of a mystery. Jogging every so often on your daily walk brings variety. Maybe there is a new recipe or food you have been curious about trying for the first time. Go for it!

2. Start small. Do you watch only situation comedies on television? Instead, why not try watching one show on the Public Broadcasting System, The History Channel or BBC to expand your mind? It will not cost you anything and you may even open up a whole new world of intellectual stimulation.

3. Acknowledge the discomfort of leaving your comfort zone. Your feelings are normal. Almost everyone feels a bit unsettled when they do something for the first time. After you identify those fears, it becomes easier to try something new. Write down what scares you when it comes to engaging in the experience. Recognize that thousands of other people have likely done what you want to embark on and they made it through. You may feel a bit fearful, but plan to dive in to the experience anyway.

4. Recognize the pure awesomeness of trying something different. You will always have the memory of the experience within you.

5. Shine your confidence on others. If your friends tell you they feel like they never do anything interesting, give them encouragement to go for something they want to experiment with. Share a recent personal story of how you were hesitant to engage in a new experience. Tell them they can learn to embrace new things.

6. Find a mentor. If you still struggle when trying new things, find a mentor. Choose someone you see as the type of person who just goes for it, regardless of what “it” is. Spend time with your mentor and pick his or her brain about their process of experimenting with new things. When we see and learn about someone else’s bravery and sense of adventure, then we can be brave and adventurous, too.

7. Visualize the desired experience. Imagine what it will be like to experience something you have longed to do. Picture it in your mind. For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to go kayaking, but were afraid to try it. Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting in the kayak, floating down the river. You see the birds, the fauna, and the fish in the water. As you let yourself visualize the experience you can see that it will be marvelous. Then, go sign up for your first kayaking lesson! This is sort of how I “fell” into white-water rafting. And yes, it is grand!

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be an exhilarating experience. Lose your old self by trying new things. Who knows, you may even discover a whole new you! At any rate, you will greatly increase the enjoyment in your life.

To your continued success!!

Photo Credit: DennisCallahan via Compfight cc