As a change management professional, I know humans are resistant to change. We are creatures of habit and seldom crave the unpredictable and the unknown.
However, from time to time, we all get “stuck in a rut” or have an itch for change. So, if you’re reading this article and desire change, I hope these 14 ways to step outside your comfort zone inspire you to do so today.
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Ways to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
What does it mean to step outside your comfort zone?
Stepping outside your comfort zone means doing things that are out of the ordinary for you. These tasks are usually outside your usual routine or schedule. Oftentimes, you do things that make you uncomfortable, face your fears, or try new things.
Why shouldn’t you stay in your comfort zone?
Staying in your comfort zone can cause complacency. Complacency is when you are doing the same things only because your current routine feels familiar and to change would take too much energy.
While there is nothing wrong with having a routine or keeping a schedule, you might develop a mindset that is resistant to change. Because to be resistant to change means to also be resistant to growth.
Growth happens outside of our comfort zone–personally, professionally, and spiritually. In the unknown and the unfamiliar, we learn more about ourselves, stretch our skills, and discover passions, interests, and talents we didn’t know we had.
These are just some of the reasons why you should step outside your comfort zone on the regular. As for how to step outside your comfort zone, here are 14 challenging and practical ways to get out of your comfort zone.
- Sign Up for a Class
- Go to a Networking Event
- Learn about Your Coworker’s Job
- Apply for a Fellowship
- Befriend Someone who is Not Like You
- Travel Internationally
- Take a Road Trip
- Take an International Assignment
- Start a New Hobby
- Try a New Cuisine or Restaurant
- Steal from Someone Else’s Bucket List
- Volunteer for a Non-Profit
- Join a Talent Show / Pageant / Play / Musical
- Face One of Your Fears
1. Sign Up for a Class
Even after you leave school, it’s important to keep learning while working on your career. Continuous learning is vital to continuously growing and developing personal and technical skills.
While learning happens in many ways, a structured classroom can offer a good environment for learning a new skill or exploring a new topic. See if your local community college or technical school offers classes for non-degree or non-certificate seeking students.
Some examples of interesting classes that might be out of your comfort zone are:
- Auto shop class
- Accounting basics class (in case you may want to start a business)
- Comparative Literature (read the classics again)
- Art / Drawing / Sculpture Classes
- Dance Class
- A Foreign Language
Additionally, sometimes businesses have learning opportunities, too. For example, a cooking class, running club, web developer help desk, photography classes, dance class, etc.
2. Go to a Networking Event
Networking events are great opportunities to meet other people in your field and outside your field who live in your area. For those feeling stuck in a rut at work but unsure what to do, a networking event is a great way to start exploring.
- First, you can meet new people and learn about their career, jobs, and companies.
- Second, you may connect with people in areas outside of work and find new friends and professionals who share your interests.
- Third, networking hones your interpersonal and communication skills.
- Lastly, perhaps someone has an interesting take on your current job situation or suggestions on different paths your career could take.
To find a networking event, try reaching out to your local chamber of commerce or seeing if your company offers any events. Also, use these professional networking tips to get the best out of your networking event. Brush up your professional resume to get ready for the event.
3. Learn about Your Coworker’s Job
Particularly in corporate jobs or jobs at any big company, it’s easy to get siloed. Silos are when each part of the company is operating separately and independently without any regard or concern for the other parts.
It’s important to learn about different areas of the business for: possible career opportunities, meeting new people and networking, and increasing your knowledge about the industry.
One practical way to break out of this silo is to learn about another department. Find a fellow coworker or young professional in another part of the business and shadow them. Or ask them questions about their position over lunch.
Alternatively, you could sign up for a mentoring program and find a mentor who could share more about the company and industry.
4. Apply for a Fellowship
Fellowships are themed scholarships for advanced degrees, apprenticeships, internships, or jobs. They typically include funding, mentorship, and support, and focus on an academic or professional topic such as: cultural exchange, public service, STEM research, etc.
Participating in the fellowship application process helps you articulate your future career goals, practice describing your skills and interests, and gives you an opportunity to network. Whether you receive the fellowship or not, the application process builds your communication and writing skills and hones your work and personal goals for the future.
Of course, if you’re awarded a fellowship, doing the fellowship will force you to step out of your comfort zone in a positive way. For an example of a fellowship experience, check out my article about my fellowship year abroad in Andorra.
5. Befriend Someone Who is Not Like You
Another way to step outside your comfort zone is to befriend people who are different from you.
As part of a psychology class in college, one of my friends had to join a club for the semester which was in direct opposition to her beliefs or usual crowd. A Christian, my friend joined an Agnostic & Atheists club for the semester. The point of the experience wasn’t to change her opinion about Christianity, but to become more empathetic to others who disagreed with her.
In today’s world, we struggle to relate to others that are different to us. Agreeing to disagree feels more like a victory than a loss. As a result, our world needs more mutual understanding and, more importantly, mutual respect.
Respect means that we don’t need to debate until we’re blue in the face or argue someone down from their position. Instead, we can be content to hear each other’s perspectives, disagree, and still respect the other person.
Befriending people who are different from us often teaches us something about the world and ourselves. It opens our eyes to diverse experiences and makes us more compassionate and empathetic. Who could you befriend today?
6. Travel Internationally
I am fortunate to have been able to travel across Europe and the Americas, see many different countries, and experience new cultures. Sometimes on a trip, I stepped outside my comfort zone by going to a city where I didn’t speak the main language or ordering from the menu without knowing exactly what the dish may contain.
Developing cultural competence only happens outside your comfort zone. It allows you to strengthen your communication skills and learn to work with those who are different from you.
What I find most important about cultural competence is being able to see situations or issues from another person’s perspective. Living with a host family taught me this lesson over and over again.
Seeing something from another’s perspective doesn’t mean you always agree with them. But you listen, empathize, and try to understand where they are coming from and their viewpoint.
When you begin working with international teams or have to work with any diverse group of people, being able to understand different viewpoints is extremely important. To be able to lead a team, you must recognize the strengths and weaknesses that each person brings to the table and how to leverage them to your team’s success.
Step WAY outside the comfort zone: Look up the closest airport to you on Google Flights. Find the cheapest one-way or round-trip ticket and go there!
7. Take a Road Trip in Your State / Region
If international travel isn’t in the budget, there is still cultural competence that can be built by stepping outside your comfort zone in your state / region / or country.
Grab a few friends and take a road trip in your state. Visit the tourist traps along the way, learn about the region’s history, and eat where the locals eat.
8. Take an International Assignment
If traveling internationally has wet your appetite for more adventure, then consider merging work and travel by taking an international assignment. This usually starts by talking to your manager about opportunities for international work.
Additionally, you could use your network to see about other international opportunities inside and outside your company. For example, a friend of mine teaches math at an international school in the Caribbean.
Working abroad has many benefits including improved communication skills, greater independence, sharper problem solving skills, and many others.
9. Start a New Hobby
Stepping outside your comfort zone doesn’t always have to be extravagant. In fact, something as simple as starting a new hobby is the perfect start for leaving your comfort zone.
One fun way to decide what new hobby to do is to ask your closest friends about their favorite hobbies. You can choose between their favorites or try them all. Another option is to spend each month doing a different favorite hobby with your friend.
If you’re still stumped, here are some examples of fun hobbies, including those that promote personal growth.
10. Try a New Cuisine or Restaurant
Another way to jazz things up and step outside of your comfort zone is to try a new cuisine or new restaurants. This is a quick and easy way to prepare yourself for more change.
Often, we can learn about different cultures by eating their food. So, during your outing, you could discover a new favorite dish and learn about another culture. Win-win.
11. Steal from Someone Else’s Bucket List
Another way to get outside your comfort zone is to complete something off your bucket list. To take this a step further, ask some friends and family for items from their bucket lists. The 30 before 30 challenge on our site may also spark some ideas.
Sometimes we fill our own bucket lists with things that are somewhat familiar and still in our own comfort zone. In which case, you can get out of the box by completing something from someone else’s list.
12. Find Charities / Non Profits in Your Area & Volunteer
In our day-to-day routines, it’s easy to lose sight of God’s blessings. Entitlement tells us that everything we have, we deserve. God’s grace reminds us that all we have is a gift from God.
As an outpouring of God’s grace and love, we can use our time, talents, gifts, and money to love on our community.
Get outside your comfort zone and start volunteering. In serving others, we become more appreciative for what we have. While our life may not have changed, seeing our impact on others reminds us of the bigger story we’re a part of.
13. Join a Talent Show / Pageant / Play / Musical
If you read this and immediately thought, “I would never do that,” then joining a talent show / pageant would be a perfect way to step outside of your comfort zone. What hidden talents do you have?
Is there something you could do with a group of friends? It’s always more fun outside of your comfort zone with friends.
- Choreograph a dance.
- Plan a Flash mob.
- Sing and play instruments at an open mic.
- Audition for the starring role in community theater.
14. Face One of Your Fears
When it comes to living in our comfort zone, fear often keeps us from branching out. Assessing our fears regularly keeps us in tune to our feelings and desires.
What are you afraid of? Imagine what you could do without that fear. What would it look like to make that a reality? Is your fear unrealistic or holding you back?
Facing our fears takes courage. The reward is no longer living with “what-ifs” but “I-did’s.”
Remember that challenges are not to be feared. In fact, challenges contribute to our growth – personal and professional.
How do I Step out of my Comfort Zone?
In summary, our comfort zones are where we are most comfortable. Our routines thrive there, and we find comfort in the predictable and certainty.
But growth happens outside our comfort zone. In the discomfort and uncertainty, we learn more about ourselves and develop personally, professionally, and spiritually.
Some ways you can get out of your comfort zone is networking, taking an international assignment, learning about your coworkers job, applying for a fellowship, starting a new hobby, and taking a class.
To step outside your comfort zone may look different for you compared to others. That’s okay. Be brave and give yourself grace! Leaving your comfort zone is hard, but once you do, you won’t regret it.
How have you stepped outside your comfort zone?
Leave me a comment below!
Don’t miss this! More posts about Working and the Young Professional Lifestyle:
- How to Unwind After Work: 13 Relaxing Ways to Decompress
- You are Not Your Job: Detangling Work and Identity
- 15 Networking Tips for Young Professionals who Hate Networking
- Valuable Career Advice for Young Professionals – Peer Approved
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