I Went Out Of My Comfort Zone For A Week And This Is What Happened

photo via  @sashaexeter

photo via @sashaexeter

There was a limit I naturally set. I drew a line in the sand and didn’t cross it. This line was the infamous comfort zone. And for an entire week, I set out to move beyond it.

In going into this, heaps of questions began popping up in my mind. What defines a comfort zone? Why do we set such defined boundaries? Do we make these boundaries up ourselves? Or do life experiences shape them without us noticing? And why do some people solely operate within their comfort zone while others are completely blinded of it all together?

Starting Big

With each decision I made, I found myself thinking: is this a choice that resides in my comfort zone or pushes me beyond it? I quickly realized just how routine my entire existence was.

So I started big.

I was meaning to get a gym membership for a while but the gym was completely uncharted territory for me and that held me back. However, I knew that if I kicked off this week of busting through my comfort zone with the biggest one of all, it would only get easier from here. I signed up and didn’t look back.

Before long, I hit my stride. The gym has now become an empowering part of my week that I am continuously penciling in time for. I am not a pro-athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a holistic experience that allows me to listen to my power playlist, renew my thoughts, refresh my attitude, and exercise my body and soul. That came out of simply pushing past my comfort zone and getting a membership.

Trying Something That Didn’t Feel Like “Me”

The next step towards the expansion of my comfort zone was something I have never once navigated because I just never saw myself as “one of those people.” I started listening to podcasts.

For many people, podcasts are a way of life but I had never had the urge to partake, mainly because I can’t sit still for a while to actually listen. But with this week’s intention in mind, I redownloaded the Apple podcast app on my phone and quickly came across Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast.

One of the things that held me back before was the thought, when will I actually have the time to listen? In knowing that, I tried to alleviate my get out of jail free card by creating a routine that worked for me. I decided on a ritual of taking a bath while listening to a podcast episode. I won't lie, it’s become a semi-magical experience that is a rewarding effect from this comfort zone challenge.

Smaller, Habitual Changes

The remainder of the week consisted of smaller, less “major” experiences, but were meant to start a habitual practice of pushing me further away from my comfort zone. And while choosing a new ice cream flavor or driving a new route on the way to work may not seem like large changes necessarily, they resulted in major, gratifying mental shifts for me. As someone who remained stuck in the constant cycle of sameness, these seemingly small things were actually big things that modified the way I approach regular choices.

What It Taught Me About Myself

In signing up for the gym, I knew beforehand that I needed to get to know myself better and this move forward gave me that relationship renewal quickly. Lately, I was feeling as though I was a stranger to my own self and simply walking on a treadmill with inspirational tunes blaring through my headphones provided an unparalleled opportunity for revival.

In stepping outside of what I already like to try something somewhat foreign like listening to podcasts, I learned I actually enjoy being alone. The idea of that was always cold and scary to me, but this small routine of a podcast and a bath taught me that if I want to feel alive and present, I need to not be distracted by outward noise like social media. Now, I have time for my thoughts to run wild and I see that small chunk of time as a time to connect within.

The lessons were countless. I learned that I enjoy black cherries on top of my ice cream. That I can actually take less time in the mornings to get ready so I am able to gain 10 extra minutes of sleep. That a cup of tea each morning and night is something that has become pertinent to my daily jumpstart and wind down.

Life is jam-packed with restrictions. We write these unspoken rules for ourselves and we tend to follow them without realizing that we’ve created a highly restrictive zone in which we live. This week of big and small shifts made me realize that we were not born to be carbon copies of one another, sulking in and out of our days, accepting the ease of comfort.

We were born to be great, to be bold, to inspire, to rewrite the rules, and most importantly, we were born to make new choices for ourselves in order to figure out the big question: who are we?

For me, it was time to step outside of my comfort zone and while it was intimidating at times, I encourage you to do the same thing. It is not until we can challenge that zone we so comfortably reside day in and day out that we can truly find what truly delights us.

How do you push yourself out of your comfort zone?

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