The long slog that is the month of January and February is finally over! Howrah! The days are getting longer and spring is almost here. It's time to start getting out and about again, exploring new places and doing new things.
One of my goals for 2020 was to do exactly that, jumping out of my comfort zone to make some new life discoveries. It's not always an easy task, though. This month I'll be talking about the struggles of trying new things in an effort to inspire myself and maybe even you!
Coming up this month: the battle to leave your comfort zone
Leaving your comfort zone
When you think of the phrase 'leaving your comfort zone' you might immediately be drawn to some extreme example you heard once in a motivational speech on YouTube. One such TED talk opens with a graduate student talking about how she leaped off the world's tallest bungee platform in an effort to break her boundaries. Apparently it wasn't as scary as she thought it would be. I'd say the chances of me jumping off a building, doing skydiving or getting a hang glider is pretty slim. I'd go with a 0.5% probability, and that's being generous.
My idea of leaving my comfort zone is a bit less extreme. I'd narrow it down to doing essentially anything you've never done before, especially the things that make you anxious. It could be something straightforward, like going to a new restaurant instead of the one you go to every week. Or something more complex like starting a new job or changing where you live. I know there's plenty of confident people out there who'd have no problem doing any of those things, and that's great. For most of us though, it can be a real struggle to make a jump into the unknown, despite the potential benefits. So how can we overcome it?
It's okay to be scared, but do it anyway
I don't know about you, but hearing phrases like "life begins at the end of your comfort zone" makes me pretty desperate for something more constructive. The fact is, doing new things is scary. Why would your body want to put itself at risk, mentally or physically? It makes complete sense that we want to protect ourselves from ridicule or danger.
The problem comes when we allow that fear to actually stop us from doing something. Now, I'm not saying this is true for every case - sometimes listening to your brain is the correct response, and you know your own body better than anyone else. But I find for most cases it's best to just get up and do it. Send that email, even if you're scared about the response. Go on that first date, even if you might not like them. Go to the interview, even if you don't think you'll get the job. The amount of times I've been worried about something and it's worked out fine vastly outnumbers the times I've been worried for a good reason. It's pretty ridiculous when I think about it. Why did I ever think there would be a problem?
Focus on the positives
The best reason I can find explaining a reluctance to leave my comfort zone is a lack of self-confidence. If I truly believe I can do something I won't be worried about it. That normally comes down to practice and experience. Thinking back to my first day at university I was terrified. I didn't know if I would find the right room or get to my lectures on time. Flash forward to my final year and going to the studio became so routine that if it weren't for the obvious health and safety concerns I could probably do it with my eyes closed.
Gaining self-confidence through the practice and repetition method is great and very reliable, but what do we do when we genuinely have no idea what we're doing? To answer that question I found a (less extreme) TED talk called "The skill of self-confidence" by Dr. Ivan Joseph. He covers a few really interesting topics, but for me it all came down to positive reinforcement. If every time you try something new or difficult you start analysing what went wrong you'll immediately fall into a pit of self-deprecation, and you certainly won't want to try that thing again. Full disclosure: I do this all the time.
What if instead of focusing on the negatives we picked up on what we did right, maybe even reinterpreting what happened to make it seem positive? Let's say you're scared about going to a party full of people you don't know. Well what happened last time you met new people? They didn't kick you out and you might have even sparked a new friendship - if it went well then there's no reason why it can't go well now!
What's the worst that can happen?
Okay, so we've gained some self-confidence and we're ready to try something new. Now what?
Unless you're a reckless teenager or a university fresher, the chances are you probably think about the endless consequences of an action before you do it. That's great if you're doing something serious, but when it comes to most things it's really easy to overthink it. It's always a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of a life choice (no, you probably don't need to buy that motorbike), but sometimes you've just got to take a chance. What's the worst that can happen? Sure, you might hit some difficulties, but most likely nothing detrimental is going to take place.
Even if things don't turn out for the better, you might learn something along the way. Failure is one of the easiest ways to find out what works and what doesn't - it's definitely not something to be afraid of. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to try and take my own advice!
Some stuff I’ve been enjoying this month
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See you next month!
- Georgina :)
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