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Stop Existing Start Living

By Samantha De Bono

Step out of your comfort zone if you want to live rather than exist.

When we stop letting fears and anxiety hold us back, we start to make major breakthroughs in life. We start to really enjoy being who we are!
Unfortunately, many people have a hard time getting out of their comfort zone. They want to do more in life and they want to start living, but they’re just too afraid to challenge themselves and push the boundaries they’ve built around them. 
This could be due to historic events or childhood trauma. Recognising where your fears originate can be very useful because when they prevent you from moving forward, you can more easily push them aside, safe in the knowledge that this is a different space in time. You have the control now that you probably didn’t have back then. 
So what is this comfort zone I’m wanging on about? and how does it hold us back from getting to the good stuff? 
A comfort zone is a self-imposed boundary that individuals place themselves within. Ironically it’s not terribly comfortable, it’s actually quite miserable. It’s the space in which we repeat the same patterns of behaviour we’ve been doing for years. It’s the place we return to time and time again to do the same old shite we’ve been doing for years - the same shite that hasn’t brought us energy, excitement, enthusiasm, happiness, peace or success for as long as we can remember, but the idea of leaving this place can fill us with dread!  
Eg. You just started a new job. Naturally there are going to be certain aspects of this job that you feel comfortable doing, like talking to colleagues and clients. 
On the other hand, there are likely to be areas of this job that take you out of your comfort zone, maybe the idea of cold-calling fills you with anxiety.
So in the example above, it would be easy to fall into the trap of avoiding the cold-calling, in other words avoid stepping out of your comfort zone. 

Obviously you know that you’re not doing the job to the full because there’s this big area you’re avoiding, you’re ignoring it and getting on with everything else in the hope that you can pretend to yourself that it isn’t a big deal - that everything will be fine if you just ignore it and plod on doing what you’ve always done. 

The problem with this is, it prevents you from true success and happiness in life. That’s because one of the best ways to grow, is to test the limits of “normal” to live the life you want.

So let’s talk about steps for getting out of your comfort zone.

1. Get informed

Anxiety generally comes from a fear of the unknown. We tend to imagine the worst-case scenario - what might happen when we push past the boundaries of what makes us feel safe.

So, to break through your comfort zone, you need to first get informed. With this in mind, your aim here is to find out about whatever it is you want to do. If it’s a life style change, an activity or a skill, talk to people who have knowledge about your pursuit, people who have done the same thing.  Read books and literature on the subject. Find professional help if you need it.

The more you know about something, the less scary it is and the more empowered you’ll feel.

2. Plan

After genning-up, make a plan to push the boundaries on what you think is possible. 

In this step you’re going to write down a step-by-step guide for how you’re going to get out of your comfort zone. Start with the easiest thing to do. 

In this plan you need to create benchmarks. These are mini-goals that put you one step closer to pushing past your comfort zone.

It is important to think about and acknowledge the obstacles that could prevent you from achieving your goal and plan for what you’ll do to overcome them.

3. Stand by your plan

Accountability is another key to breaking through your comfort zone. Telling a friend about your plans can be useful if those around you are on the same page, or supportive, they’ll encourage your plans to better yourself and your life. 

4. One step at a time

Stepping out of your comfort zone starts with one step. Once you have a plan in place you’ll simply start with that crucial initial action.

So for example, if it’s a skill, plan to start an evening class once a week, if it’s a life style change, indulge in that once a week without making huge changes.

Taking it one step at a time will help to acclimatise yourself to your new plan and desensitise yourself to the feelings of anxiety. You’re plan is not to change everything overnight, it’s to steadily push the confines of your comfort zone until your free of those old patterns. 

5. Challenge yourself

Like with anything that’s new and scary, we can often start out with every intention of reaching our goal, only to get cold feet half way through and run back to the comfort zone. 

Be honest with yourself, don’t ignore the warning signs, don’t pretend everything’s ok if it’s not. 

If you’re honest and brave enough to own up to the fact that you’re afraid of taking another step, you’re far more likely to reach out for help, or push through it.

Challenge yourself, challenge old negative thought processes. 

6. Positivity

There will be times when you experience a negativity. That’s okay. That’s normal. Something that shakes your confidence and makes you feel scared is bound to bring negative automatic thoughts with it. 

The trick is to not to cling hold of those negative thoughts and use them as a ticket back to the comfort zone. Look for your other ticket, the positive ticket that takes you beyond the space you’ve been slumped in for so long. Search every nook and cranny for where you put that positive ticket, you know you’ve got it, find it and hold on tight. Believe in the process, believe in yourself and call for help if you need it. 

7.  Expand & grow 

Never stop expanding your life goals. The most interesting people in life are those who are curious and want to know and experience more. 

Only when we die is it ok to stop growing as a person, until then we are never the finished article. Even if you arrive at your stated goal it’s important to keep pushing those boundaries. Keep learning. 

Look for new challenges. Find stuff that you would never have imagined you would do. 

Go for it!