We all have a tendency to stay close within our comfort zones. But what if the biggest growth potential and rewards are just beyond that zone? Or even way beyond it?
Here are 15 ways to question your idea of what is normal, and how to expand both that concept and your comfort zone, and make a major difference in the course of your life.
1. Question everything
Take nothing for granted. Be like the toddler always asking why. Keep searching for answers and examine norms from every angle. You never know what you might find.
2. Be painfully honest
Being the most honest you have ever been is incredibly uncomfortable. It feels alien to tell 100% of the truth. If you’re burning to say something (good or bad) to someone in your life, you’ll never know the value that could be reached by saying it until you try. Start with a letter if the idea of a conversation freaks you out.
Especially when you’re busy, carving out time to sit and do nothing except breathing can make you feel insane. But the benefits far outweigh the perceived (negligible) costs. Sometimes, by stopping, you’ll greatly enhance your ability to keep going.
4. Learn to be an early riser
It might sound awful, or you might not be a “morning person,” but imagine what you could get done if you got up extremely early, say 5am, when everyone else is asleep and you have the world to yourself. Begin your day in productive silence.
5. Create things
Everyone fancies themselves a creative person, but it’s so easy to choose Netflix and wine instead of a creative project when we come home from a long day. Persist and find yourself a creative outlet, then nurture it with diligence!
6. Save your money
Start keeping track of every penny you spend. Do this for a few months. Try paying for everything in cash, which will really drive home how much you’re spending. Once you cut the excess, you’ll be shocked at what you can save.
7. Give back to those in need
Volunteering can make you feel less self-centered, less hopeless, and like you’re part of something bigger. Don’t underestimate the value of community outreach.
8. Maintain your fitness
Keep track of what you eat and what exercise you do. It may seem annoying and time-consuming, but it’s a great way to see the good vs. harm you’re doing to your body so you can make changes accordingly.
9. Eat well
Nutritious food helps you perform better. Limit your diet to food that has actual nutrition: lots of organic vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, etc. It’s better to be a weirdo about your food and to outshine the competition than to blend in at parties and be sluggish or unhealthy all your life.
10. Work on your speaking skills
Public speaking is a daunting thing, but learning to do it adds an invaluable skill to your toolbox. Everyone is scared of it at first. Take small opportunities to cut your teeth and when you really need to stand up in front of a crowd, you’ll be ready.
11. Talk to people who interest you
Intrigued by someone? Strike up a conversation. What do you have to lose? Worst case scenario: rejection. Best case: a new friend! And rejection is a normal part of life, so there is nothing for you to fear.
12. Put away your phone
Take a digital detox every now and then, let your mind wander and mull over projects and problems. Also, put it away in social settings. Constantly checking or looking things up is just plain rude.
13. Focus your efforts on one thing at a time
Don’t try all the things at once. Pick one at a time and commit to mastering that thing. Once you’re there, feel free to pick another. The road to mastery is accomplished one task at a time. Intention and attention are important.
14. Set scary goals
Stretch your limits by setting goals you’re not sure you can reach. Pick something harder and scarier and more uncomfortable than you’ve ever done and give yourself a year to do it. This might be as simple as attempting to run 7 miles when you’ve hardly ever run 1. But the experience of channeling your physical and mental reserves to get it done is almost always worth it.
15. Get help if you need it
Therapy might be the number one most uncomfortable thing to do. It’s an exhausting chore to examine your own biases, defenses, motivations, and those of the people in your life. But it always gets you closer to the truth. And can lead to all sorts of breakthroughs in the short and long term.
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