Comfort zone “A place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.”
I used to have one of these, I remember it being warm and fuzzy. It was my safety zone and I dared not mess it up.
I was what you would call a follower. I went to school, accumulated student loans, got an internship, graduated college, bought my house, got my CPA and finally reached my breaking point and caved. To be honest I do not miss that fuzzy place. It all started after I finally passed my CPA exam (took me three years) in the summer of 2013. I gave up so much for those three initials: time, friendships, boyfriend, family, health and so much more. What did I get in return? 20 extra pounds on my 5’4″ frame, a decent raise, three initials I didn’t care about and loneliness. The second I received the “you passed” email, I began making plans and thus began the process of breaking my shell.
Here’s how I broke out of my comfort zone.
Sign up for a meetup
Meetup is a mostly free membership site where you can meet people with the same interests as you. Some groups will charge a small fee but most are free. I signed up for boot camps, kettle bell class, self defense and a Friday night women’s social group. I met so many great people through meetup and this is how I got started in martial arts. The free self defense class I took was taught in the karate dojo where I currently train. There are groups ranging from fitness, cooking, mommy and me, hiking, bicycling, specific dog breeds and much more. This is a great way to meet people and expand your social circle, chances are you will get a long well with others since you have similar interests.
One of the first books I read was The Secret, this book (which is also a movie) changed my life. Ever heard of the power of positive thinking? The Law of Attraction? Like attracts like. You are responsible for how you feel on a daily basis, change your attitude from negative to positive. I was at a point where I felt alone and isolated, there is something about this book that helped me see things from a new perspective. I highly recommend this one.
“You have the power to change anything, because you are the one who chooses your thoughts and you are the one who feels your feelings. “You create your own universe as you go along.” – Rhonda Byrne.
Take a vacation
The second I found out I passed my CPA exam I started looking for a place to vacation. I decided on California and began planning my first solo trip. This was my first time being alone in a different state and if I wanted any type of social interaction I was going to have to be *gasp* social. I am socially awkward. You will never find me in the middle of the room being the center of attention as I tend to stick to the corners and keep a low profile. I spend half the time trying to think of something to say and by the time I think of something the time has come and gone. The moment is over. Taking a vacation will force you to get out there and socialize.
Nurture old relationships
In college I was told networking was important. Keep a list of people you meet and have coffee with them every once in a while because someday you will need those references. Of course I didn’t listen, never kept a list and never had coffee with anyone. I was more of a loner back then. The time came when I finally decided to move on from my previous job and with resumes come references. Professional references! Oh snap . . . probably should have listened to my college professors. This meant I had to be the one to reach out and set up these coffee dates. Some of these people I had not spoken to in years and the fear of rejection was real. I put it all on the line and guess what? I got my references and to this day I still stay in touch. Old Brenda would have never done such a thing. Old Brenda would still be at her old job because you know, it was comfortable and safe.
It’s a cliche’ I know but it’s true. A friend once said that he didn’t invite me to things much anymore because my answer was almost always no. He assumed the answer was going to be no so he just stopped inviting me altogether. You get invited to a party but you’re too tired, what do you do? You get dressed and you go! Say yes as much as possible (within reason of course). There has never been a time when I said yes and then came back thinking it was a waste of time. I always enjoy myself and the experiences that come along with it are amazing.
Lastly, you have to learn to love yourself. Spend some quality time with yourself and figure out what you like. Get healthy, loose weight, exercise more do what makes you happy. You have to learn to enjoy your own company. How can you expect someone else to like you if you don’t like yourself? Respect yourself and everything else will fall into place.
These are some of the things I did to get out of my comfort zone. I broke out of my shell, cracked it open, walked out and never looked back.