The Road Less Traveled

Kicking your comfort zone to the curb

By Sandra Bolan

How many times have you talked yourself out of doing something amazing by telling yourself, “I could never do that.” We often talk about traveling the globe, learning a new skill, climbing the corporate ladder or spending more time on a hobby. But that is typically where it ends – talking about it. 

Why not stop talking and start doing? When you’re in the twilight of your life, do you want to be a shoulda, woulda, coulda person or do you want to regale people with your adventures, show off your crafting skills or wow an audience with your musical prowess? To accomplish any of those things, you’re going to have to move the line that divides comfort and discomfort. 

Go Back to School

On graduation day, you no doubt thought you’d never step foot back in the classroom. But why not take the leap and learn all the fun stuff you never had time for? Take that cooking or carpentry class. Learn sign language, how to play the piano or even how to fly a plane. Learn a new language then travel to a country where it is spoken. 

“Encountering new people and cultures can be both intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding,” according to Ashford University’s strategies and benefits of adult learning. “Exploring your world can open the door to new interests, passions, or hobbies, and then motivate you to learn new skills to support them. The person you strike up a conversation with at the train station could lead your life in an entirely new direction with a simple idea or piece of advice.” 

When it comes to work, no matter what industry you’re in, it is changing at lighting speed, and you will most likely have to do some form of continuing education to keep up. 

Perhaps you’re feeling burned out in your current career, or feel you have reached a plateau and you won’t be able to advance further in the company. It could be time to branch out and explore new career opportunities that interest you. 

Take Initiative

If you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder, you won’t get there by sitting in your cubicle doing the same thing day in and day out. Don’t wait for the boss to assign you to a project. Ask to be on the team. 

Be Alone or Be a Team Player

If you’re someone who feels the need to always be around people and can’t imagine doing anything alone, try going to a movie by yourself or eating at your favorite restaurant solo. On the flipside, if you’re someone who loves her independence and does everything alone, ask a friend to dinner. The same bodes true for your work life. If you always work alone and don’t ask or take help that is offered to you, start saying “Yes.” This signifies to your boss you know your limitations but are willing to learn and take the assistance to become better. It also shows you’re a team player.

Enlarge Your Social Circle

You’re married with kids and still hang out with all your high school friends. It’s great to have such strong bonds, but sometimes you need other people to help you do those things that scare the living daylights out of you. “Everyone thinks differently, and learning from new experiences can expand your own way of thinking. From religion to politics, life experiences to career changes, meeting new people can open your world to different opportunities,” according to ROVR, a social networking company. 

Face Your Fears

Does the thought of being up high, even on a sturdy ladder, give you the shakes? Do your palms start to sweat when you think about talking to a group of people? Don’t run away from those things, but go full steam ahead toward them. The more you just do it and face your fears, the easier it is to accomplish these things in the future.

It sounds cliché, but if you really want to step out of your comfort zone, you must create that bucket list or vision board – and put it where you can see it every day. Another option is to enlist the help of a family member or friend to hold you accountable for accomplishing your fearless goals. There is nothing like a daily reminder to help you do things that stretch your limits. WGW

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