7 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Stepping out of my comfort zone has led to some of the best things that have happened in my life- moving to Montana to be a ski instructor, to compete nationally riding horses, and taking a gap semester and going to Argentina. Not only does pushing yourself out of your comfort zone opens up new opportunities, it can improve your self image, well-being and mental health. Allow yourself to feel intimidated, but persevere! You will be so proud of yourself.
#1 BREAK YOUR ROUTINE
Try something that you normally wouldn't do in your everyday routine. Here are some ideas:
Compliment a stranger
Eat out at a different restaurant- better yet, support your local businesses and look for local eats and hole-in-the wall restaurants!
Delete your social media and Netflix for a day, a week, or more! What will you do with that free time?
If you like to sleep in, wake up before sunrises and get an early start to your day.
Carve in an extra 30 minutes into your day to do something to improve your well-being- cooking, art, working out, etc (check out these smart bikes and workout mirrors- there are so many options to explore from the comfort of your home!)
Text or call your friends and family and tell them how much you appreciate them
Apply for a job you have never considered before
Take a hike, but take a trash bag and clean the trail
If you haven't already, try more eco-friendly alternatives to every-day food and house items you use. Try a plant milk (my fav is macadamia milk), laundry detergent sheets rather than liquid detergent, biodegradable soap (this is my favorite i've tried so far), or try shopping with reusable grocery bags and produce nets to cut down your single plastic use.
#2 FACE YOUR FEAR
What scares you? When I went abroad to Argentina, I found myself in an AIRBNB run by a guy named Alex, who told me that his biggest fear was heights. Now, I was shocked when he told me this, because I had just watched him high line sixty feet off of the ground.
He told me that a couple of years ago his fear was so bad that he couldn’t even stand on a balcony of a second story building, and I was amazed. I asked him why he chose to face his fear in such an extreme way, and he told me that if you don’t step out of your comfort zone, your world begins to close in on you. He told me that facing your fear is taking control of your life and that the more you step out of your comfort zone, the stronger you become.
#3 FOLLOW YOUR HEART
Think of your biggest dreams, even if you don’t believe that it is possible. Are you dreaming of a career change? Do you want to live abroad? As you are thinking of your biggest dreams, you are probably thinking of the circumstances that are preventing you from pursuing them. Maybe it’s societal pressure or you are pushing it off because it’s not the “right time” or that it seems like an impossible dream.
When I made the decision to follow my heart and go to Argentina to learn Spanish, it was an extremely last-minute decision. After changing majors, I wasn’t feeling motivated to go to school. Two days before spring semester started, I googled “Spanish schools in Patagonia,” contacted the first website I clicked on, dropped my classes, and booked a one-way ticket to South America.
I never planned on taking a gap semester or a semester abroad to travel, although I daydreamed about the idea. “If only I were brave enough,” I would tell myself. In retrospect, that was one of the most important decisions of my life! Listen to what your heart is telling you, take the leap, and don’t look back- you won’t regret it!
#4 CALL EVERYONE FROM A-Z IN YOUR CONTACTS
Open your phone and scroll through all of your contacts. As you’re reading through your contacts you might be seeing the names of childhood friends, old classmates, your old college roommate, coaches, former coworkers, or perhaps even people you haven’t spoken to because you ended on bad terms.
You probably still follow many of them on social media, but chances are, these friendships have weakened as time has passed. When was the last time you had a conversation with them? Perhaps it’s been a few months, but I bet there are a few you haven’t spoken to in many many years. Does the idea of calling all of them in order scare you? It sure scares me when I think about it, but I did it anyway.
Last summer on a long drive through Wyoming, I opened up my contacts and made the conscious decision to call my contacts in order going from A-Z without skipping anyone. It was terrifying feeling to hit “dial” and wait as the phone would ring. I was afraid whether they would remember me or not and how they would react. Among the contacts I called was someone from middle school that I haven’t talked to in 8 years since he had moved away, my childhood best friend from when we were toddlers, a girl who I took horse lessons with for over a decade, just to name a few. All of these people were very close and dear to me at points in my life. It was terrifying to cold call someone up, who at one point meant so much to me in my life, but had allowed that friendship to drift apart. The results I had were unexpected- they were caught off guard, but they were very happy to hear from me. There were many laughs, shared memories, and most surprisingly, the were always rooting for me quietly, keeping up with the pieces of my life I shared on social media.
Calling everyone in my contacts pushed me out of my comfort zone- I am shy and never liked talking on the phone (I always preferred texting) and I was scared to contact people who I let slip away. But I learned so much from this experience- that people who were involved in your life in different stages of your life still care; and that rekindling a friendship is just a phone call away. Most of all, I walked away from this experience with a new love for talking on the phone. Overall, it was a very rewarding experience and I encourage everyone to try this.
#5 MAKE A BIG GOAL AND TAKE YOUR FIRST STEP TOWARDS IT
What would you like do but seems impossible. Most recently for me, it was illustrating a poetry book that came to be known as Critters Who Care. When Austin first approached me telling me about his vision, I was intimidated and truly did not think that it was within the range of possibility of something that I personally could do. How would we publish it? Who would sell our book? Was m art good enough? But I believed that he could, so I embraced this goal of creating a poetry book with him and took the first step- picking up the paint brush.
Even though it was a big, intimidating goal, within three months from the first painting, I was holding a copy of the book in my hands. Never in a million years would I have thought that our book would be available on Amazon Prime, that we would sell over 100 copies within the first month and would have international sales, have our book for sale in stores, and have a website for it!
Although it may be scary, don’t put off these big goals and tell yourself “maybe one day,” just start with a small step today, even if you have self-doubt, and figure out the rest of the details later. Your future self will thank you.
#6 PICK UP A CONVERSATION WITH A STRANGER
Something I noticed as a college student (pre-pandemic) is that people are very uncomfortable talking to strangers. Whenever I would pass people on the sidewalk, instead of making eye contact and saying “hello,” people would have their AirPods in, unlock their phone and stare at their phone screen while we were passing.
But what if you went up to them with confidence and picked up a conversation with them? More than likely, they are super friendly and have something to teach you. Who knows, maybe the guy next to you has climbed Mount Everest.
That is precisely what happened to me at a restaurant a couple of years ago. The guy sitting at the next table over asked me “where are you from?” This caught me extremely off guard since people usually keep to themselves, but I went with it. 15 minutes later, I learned that he had made it to the summit of Mount Everest. He had so many wonderful stories and shared with me the biggest lessons he had learned throughout his life. It is amazing how many friends you make and how many amazing stories you hear just by being a bit friendlier.
#7 LEARN A NEW SKILL
Being a beginner at something can be terrifying. You can experience self-doubt, fear of judgement from others, and you may feel that your opportunity to start has already passed. I am here to tell you that it is never too late to try something new, whether that be learning a new skill, instrument, or hobby.
Need some Ideas?
Play the guitar (I have a beautiful Washburn guitar)
Start a blog
Write poetry (Learn how to write your own rhyme poem here)
Learn to rock climb (Check out some climbing inspo from my brother, Nick Leen)
Try high lining like Alex (If you have a fear of heights, knock out two birds with one stone!)
Learn a new language (like I did in Argentina! Although DuoLingo and Vocapp are great apps!)
Try watercolor painting (did you know that Victoria tried watercolors for the first time 6 months before illustrating Critters Who Care?)
Shooting a bow and arrow (I started off with this one that Austin gave me for my birthday!)
Investing in the stock market
Skiing or Snowboarding
Open up an Etsy shop for your existing artistic hobbies
Cooking (This is the best cookbook ever I got as a gift!)
Contact us- tell us your stories of stepping out of your comfort zone!
We would love to hear from you!