“Your largest fear carries the greatest growth.” Right.
“The unknown is where dreams are made.” Yup.
“If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” Can’t agree more.
We’ve heard plenty of quotes that prompt us to push past the comfort zone because it limits our full potential. But, is staying in the comfort zone something sinful and unworthy?
There were points in my life where I literally broke out in cold sweats and experienced irregular heartbeat when I thought of the idea of giving up all that I’ve had in the past (the familiar corporate life) and jumping into the unknown. “Are you crazy? You just turned down another job offer from the headhunter! You are burning bridges! What’s wrong with you?!” The negative mental chatter could go on and on to project the most hilarious, but scariest pictures like I was watching a list of comedy horror films!
Our comfort zone isn’t a bad thing. It’s far from it. We all need a space where we can relax, feel at ease and at the bare minimum, to breathe regularly. :)) Of course, I miss the warmth of my comfort zone once in awhile whenever I decide to make a challenging stretch in life. There’s always insecurity and fears involved, but I understand that it’s part of the deal.
The fact is that we find out a lot about ourselves when we take risks. To expand and to learn, it’s almost impossible to stay in the comfort zone. So how do we step out of the comfort zone from time to time while keeping our sanity and enjoying the progress?
Here are 9 things that I have learned about venturing into the unknown with joy and peace on a regular basis.
1. Re-engineer our habits
What we practice repeatedly become our habits. And our habits create our destiny. We only have 24 hours in each day, so we need to be mindful about where we’ll focus our energy. Are we putting our attention on the things that bring us closer to fulfilling our dreams or on the things that take us away from it?
For example; when we get up (location: your comfy bed) in the morning (time), we brush our teeth (action). The cue is the time of day and getting up. The routine is getting your toothbrush, toothpaste and brushing your teeth. The reward is the tingly minty freshness.
So, how would you like to build your routine that will move your forward one step towards your goals or dreams? What is the cue? What is the routine that triggered by your cue? And what is your reward?
2. Eat That Frog
Here’s one simple idea: Eat That Frog. Choose to do whatever you don’t want to do FIRST. Do it whether you feel like it or not and no matter how slowly you go, just don’t stop. At the same time, routinely and intentionally visualize the desired outcome that you’d like to have. This helps you to step into the belief that it is possible, our brains increase the motivation to make it happen. We become more and more determined to do whatever it takes to achieve our goals. (A good reference: Brian Tracy: Eat That Frog)
3. Patience is gold
The expedition to the unknown is like a quest for truth. If you want to do something great in your life, unlearning how to be impatient is an art to be mastered. There’s no need to get mad or anxious at yourself just because everything isn’t all figured out according to the plan. Life is like an onion. We have to be willing to peel off layer after layer without the urge of instant gratification. There are days when we find ourselves trapped in our emotions of not feeling like to do the “tasks” involved. Don’t let your emotions slave you but instead by working with them to support the big idea that you are pursuing.
“Patience is not simply the ability to wait. It’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” – Joyce Meyer
4. Loosen up
Being uptight, proper and well-behaved might be the image I’ve held on to for years, but unfortunately, this rigid professional poise earned me neither benefit nor fun. Stop taking everything so seriously.
This is a huge lesson that I’ve learned along my self-discovery. Being able always to laugh at ourselves (from time to time) is such a great quality to have. We can still be the expert in our field without ruin the fun part.
Approaching life with a non-serious attitude gives us more clarity and positive energy to resolve difficulties or issues that seem problematic. At the same time, people are more cooperative when you feel more relaxed. Ask yourself, “Is getting serious about this situation really serving me?” We are not committing a crime just by being a goofball once in awhile! :))
5. Connect with the Big Why
Meeting obstacles is part of the deal when venturing into something unknown. But, encountering obstacles with grace is a skill to be trained. Passion is important, but when we have a dream or goal to be actualized in the world, tapping into the Big Why (purpose on a grand-scale) can help us stay on track, so we don’t beat ourselves up psychologically when stepping in unexpected puddles.
For instance, the Big Why for me to continuously invest my time and energy in the coaching business is to not only enjoy a sense of personal freedom but also to aim at helping women to love themselves first and realize their true worth. I believe every woman is born uniquely and perfectly beautiful with their gifts and talents. What is your Big Why?
6. Stay curious
When we are on the journey to explore the beautiful, adventurous part of the unknown, it requires our brain to work for us as a loyal servant. The brain is a muscle, just like any other muscle groups of our body – we need to exercise it regularly! Aside from the basics of taking care of our physical body with the right diet, movement, and sufficient sleep, we stimulate our brain positively by staying curious.
Instead of taking everything at face value, get into the habit of questioning everything. When we experience something “new,” our brain creates new neural pathways to increase our intelligence. This provides us the fuel to face new challenges in life, which eventually leads us to different possibilities and of course, opportunities.
So, you could start taking a new route to work, try a new recipe for dinner, read an interesting book, or even doodle like a kid can trigger your imagination to be more creative!
7. Let go of the unhealthy ego
Back in my corporate years, there were times when I had been very ego-driven. There was a burning desire to be right (Every. Single. Time.), which means I was easily offended, and regularly on my defensive mode.
Then, I realized that I was holding a pistol against myself.
I can’t emphasize enough how having a healthy ego is critical when diving into the unknown. It’s so easy to get insecure at something that’s not 100% under our control.
Admitting mistakes or faults without somehow rationalizing or blaming others is, in fact, an elegant way of dealing with any situation. There is no need to get caught up in the ego-driven pursuit of life that looks good only from the outside.
8. Trust the divine guidance
I’m not talking about giving spirituality the benefit of the doubt. The reason why I encourage to build spiritual strength is not just to improve overall wellbeing, but it can support us to overcome major hardships in life.
Many spiritual traditions have a long history of using contemplative practices to increase compassion, empathy, attention span, as well as to quiet our monkey mind. Even if you aren’t a yogi, nor a regular meditator, it’s perfectly fine to embark on your spiritual journey anytime now.
I’ve mentioned in my previous blog about journaling (or free-writing), an easy practice, but often overlooked. The purpose is to start an inner dialogue with yourself rather than constantly seeking external opinions. Studies show that writing during difficult times may help you find meaning in life’s challenges and become more resilient in the face of obstacles.
No matter which modality you choose to get in touch with your higher self, please remember to detach from all expectations and simply trust that the divine wisdom to guide you through the stages. Let the process unfold itself organically whenever whichever way possible. Have trust, period.
9. Listen to your body
When we are on automatic pilot, trying to get someplace else all the time without being attentive to where we already are, we can leave a wake of disaster behind us regarding our own health and wellbeing.
When we’re not listening to the body, we’re not paying attention to its messages. In fact, we’re not even in our bodies much of the time. Don’t underestimate how honest your body can get. It’s an energy tank that needs constant replenishment throughout the day. When you feel fatigued physically, it’s an important sign to switch off from the task and take a rest (e.g., a brisk walk, a nap, even a cup of water can help).
Have you ever denied yourself of the opportunity to try something new because of the fear of failure and insecurity that are holding you back? Stretching out of your comfort zone can be scary and daunting. I just want you to know that you are not alone. So, take a deep breath. Then, choose to take one tiny step at a time. We’ll get there! :))
“You have to dive into the unknown. Be confident within yourself that you must try to put yourself into positions that can ultimately make you better long term.” — Stich Rulez
Sending you lots of love, joy, peace and happiness,