We’ve all heard the saying “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”. It could also be said that your creativity also begins at the edge of your comfort zone.Yet moving beyond the boundaries of what is comfortable and familiar can be a very scary thing.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that many people, me included, just don’t like change. Another part of the problem comes from the thought that we have to make massive changes all at once. It’s much easier to stay stuck doing what’s familiar, whether we’re talking about being creative or about life in general.
It takes a lot of energy to stay stuck, especially when there’s no need to. There’s a way to move beyond your comfort zone that can be almost painless… and that is by taking little steps to push the boundaries back ever so slightly. Change then becomes a gradual thing, instead of this massively life-altering one-shot deal. Of course, if you want to take one giant leap, I’m not going to be the one to stop you. :)
Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about how you can move just one step beyond where you’re comfortable now:
1. Try a new food
Trying a new food can be a daunting experience. We all have our “comfort foods” and favorites, and sometimes we’re pretty set in our ways. Your new food choice doesn’t have to be huge. It could be as simple as trying a new vegetable, or checking out a new restaurant.
2. Find a new route for your walk or run
Change up your walking route. You can still keep your same distance, but go in the opposite direction, or drive to a different park with different trails than you’re used to. If you’re not sure where to go, you can always check out other routes in your area on apps like Strava or MapMyRun.
3. Sit somewhere else
Do you have a favorite chair you collapse relax into at the end of a busy day? I do. And when I swap that for sitting on the couch, or when I swap my desk for the kitchen table to work at, it creates a different energy that can move you a step or two outside comfortable.
4. Get in touch with someone you haven’t talked to in awhile
This can be a very uncomfortable feeling if you’ve let old friendships lapse. But once you get talking again, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
5. Do something a little scary
So this is a little bigger step. Try something that you’ve always been afraid to do. Roller coaster? Bungee jumping? Going to a networking event? Once you do the thing you’re afraid of, there’s no going back. Your comfort zone will have permanently expanded.
6. Read a book or watch a movie in a different genre
I’ve always found it amazing how we get stuck in reading and movie ruts. If you always read romances, try a mystery instead. Or if you only like watching action movies, a documentary makes a nice change of pace. Different genres will give you different perspectives and ideas to consider.
7. Have an unplugged day
Being disconnected from tv, the internet, and your smart phone can have you taking a huge step outside your comfort zone. We’re all so attached to our devices these days, we don’t really know what to do without them.
8. Say hello to a stranger
It will be a comfort-stretching exercise for you, but it might just make the other person’s day.
I know I’ve told the story before about how one day I was walking down the street feeling really bad, close to tears and an older, homeless man passed me on the sidewalk. “Smile gorgeous,” he said, “It can’t be that bad.” Even now, I smile when I think of that moment. He made my day without even trying.
9. Embrace silence
Spend a few minutes each day in silent meditation. Start slowly with 5 or 10 minutes, and work up to 30 minutes a day. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but stick with it. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself to move outside your comfort zone in a peaceful and painless way.
As you can see, expanding your comfort zone doesn’t have to be a super scary thing. Little steps every day can move you from where you are now to where you want to be… outside your comfort zone. You’ll find that when you get there, your creativity will have expanded too!
What do you do to move beyond your comfort zone? Leave a comment and let me know!