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Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They're what makes the instrument stretch-what make you go beyond the norm. - Cicely Tyson (1933-) American Actress Taking yourself out of your comfort zone is not a choice if you want to continue to grow, develop and be healthy as you age. "Use it or lose it" used to be enough, but now the research shows that we have to keep our brains and bodies active and learn new things continuously in order to combat the diseases of aging. Stepping out of your comfort zone enables you to live a longer, healthier and fuller life overall. There are, however, many people who will do anything to stay within their comfort zones. In fact, it is estimated that many people never venture further than 50 miles from the place where they were born and less than 25% of Americans own a US passport. Traveling is only one of many ways to expand your comfort zone. The important thing isn't what you do, but that you actually do something to expand yourself. The reward of stepping out of your comfort zone is you feel alive and full of new energy. The more you step-out, the more comfortable and competent you become. Your comfort zone is comprised of 4 distinct areas: Place - If you are in a place or environment you have never been, you may be out of your comfort zone. Grow and learn through traveling, putting yourself in new situations, attending networking meetings, and enjoying different physical environments. Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Living in France and traveling made everything we saw new, different, and exhilarating. We felt like children in a candy store when we walked down a cobblestone street or stared up at an ancient church built in the 10th century. Travel and putting yourself in a new environment for a day, a week, a month, or for a year is a liberating and life changing way to move out of your comfort zone. People - Venture out to meet and interact with different people you don't know; go to a lecture, a networking meeting, travel, volunteer, attend a class or a party with the purpose of meeting new people. Being understood and understanding others in the French language was and continues to be the ultimate push from my comfort zone. The reason I stick with it, however, is that when I am able to have a conversation, I am thrilled and walk on air for the rest of the day.
Jean pushed himself out of his comfort zone while conducting his Ph.D. research. He reached out to a professor at the Universite' Montpellier and asked for her assistance. As a result he was able to involve her in the project and conduct the study with both US and French subjects. Pursuits - If you continue to engage in activities you are familiar with and competent at, you are in your comfort zone. Once you start a new sport, skill, or activity that you don't know, you move out of your comfort zone. As a family, we would constantly venture out to new towns and villages and explore the countryside. These adventures pushed us out of the known and into areas that challenged us. Our senses were all on high alert from reading the roadmap to deciding the best place to eat lunch or go for a hike. Traveling afar is momentous and yet we found driving 60 kilometers to a new village or region was equally as exhilarating. Power of the Brain - Completing tasks you are familiar with keeps you in your comfort zone and stretching yourself to try a new skill or task takes you outside of it. Our brains are being stretched constantly with learning the new social marketing tools. We have decided, however, we can't learn all of them at once, but one new one a month until we feel comfortable seems to be a good pace and keeps us growing. Why don't we step outside our comfort zones more often? Basically we are still functioning on old innate primate instincts that tell us to play it safe, stay with the herd and protect ourselves from possible danger. This was important at one time, but no longer serves us today. In order to grow and develop you have to step outside your comfort zone into the global world we now live in. As children we are programmed to grow and develop, but as adults we have the choice to stagnate or continue to learn. If you desire to change anything in your life; to create more joy, better health, and pursue your dreams, you have to step outside your comfort zone and continuously challenge yourself to new adventures so that you can learn and grow. A quick guide to stepping outside your comfort zone. 1. Take small steps. Pick one or two domains in which you are willing to step outside your comfort zone. Decide, for example, you want to learn how to knit and to take a class with all strangers. What is the worse thing that would happen? You stab yourself with the knitting needle and someone laughs at you. But wait, if it is a beginner's class, they won't know how to knit either and the teacher is sure to show you how to properly handle the needles. 2. Stick to it until it becomes comfortable. Keep going to the knitting class until it becomes so comfortable and you have learned everything you need to know to knit. Before you know it, you are signing up for the more advanced class,
trying a more difficult pattern. 3. Repeat the Process over and over and over again. As you practice stepping out of your comfort zone you will find that you become bolder and courageous and want to try out new things. Try it in another domain; travel to an unfamiliar place, learn a new skill, develop a new relationship with someone who takes you out of your comfort zone. Find the Joy in Stepping out of your comfort zone. Acting on your dreams, desires, goals, and wishes will all make you move out of your comfort zone. If you want to create the life you hope for, keep on practicing moving out of your comfort zone. Before you know it you will become captivated with the joy and feeling of accomplishment it brings to you.
About the Author - Dr. Suzanne Saxe-Roux is an entrepreneur extraordinaire who has built, grown, and sold a professional training company. Her mission in life is to inspire, educate, and empower people to grow and learn. As a consultant, writer, author, speaker, coach, wife and mother, Suzanne has co-authored two books, The Consultative Approach, Partnering for Results! and her latest book, Courage and Croissants, Inspiring Joyful Living as well as E-Books on Business and Lifestyle Planning. Connect with Suzanne at http://www.healthyjoyfulliving.com. (c) Copyright, all rights reserved Suzanne Saxe-Roux 2010
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