“A ship in harbor is safe … but that is not what ships are built for.”
– John Shedd
I know, I know: some quotes can be real cliché. But, regardless of how often you hear them, I’ve found that often, they ring true.
What is that harbor that Shedd metaphorically refers to?
You guessed it right: your comfort zone.
Our comfort zones are, well, comfortable places. They allow us to experience minimal negative emotions, minimal stress, and give us a feeling of safety, which are all great accents to a well-lived life.
However … our comfort zones can also limit our potential. Most of us are aware that to become something more or to achieve our dreams usually means stepping out of this zone and taking a risk. And, taking a risk usually involves feeling a bit uncomfortable.
We’ve all likely experienced this tension in our lives where we desire to go after our dreams or become the person we’ve always wanted to become, but we become frozen with fear at the risks we’d have to take to get there. After all, what if we fail?
(P.S.: Oh have I been there, and very recently when Paulo and I packed up our entire lives in an RV and hit the road. Watch HEF On The Road to see the crossing of our comfort zones, haha)
Before I go through some tips on how to take a step out of your comfort zone, I’ll leave you with another cliché:
What if you fail, you ask?
Well … what if you fly?
Tips To Help You Leave Your Comfort Zone
1. Future Project
Unfortunately, we are also going to feel certain emotions as humans when it comes to taking a risk. Fear, anxiety, etc … they will always accompany us. The goal isn’t to eliminate these emotions, but to understand them and then refuse to let them control our lives.
One strategy to help you maintain courage in the face of taking a risk is to think about the future: imagine your life 10-20 years from now, and what it will be like if you truly go for your dreams. Gather the details.
Now, imagine a future where you let fear stop you: what does that one look like? What does the feeling of regret feel like?
I try to remind myself of these two futures whenever I’m hesitating to step out of my comfort zone – it nearly instantly reminds me WHY I’m doing this.
2. Find Your Reason
There is a reason my apparel line is called “Find Your Reason.” Because without finding the “why” of why you want something … you’ll never have the motivation needed to achieve it!
Our reason keeps us striving in the face of obstacles … one of the biggest obstacles being our own fear of leaving our comfort zone.
Find the thing that lights you up. The thing you couldn’t imagine NOT achieving in this lifetime. Put it in your reminders on your phone, put it on the fridge, put it everywhere. When you’re lacking courage, think of it.
3. Make Just ONE Change
The goal with this is to get your body accustomed to the anxiety that comes with major change. Try doing just ONE activity every day that puts you even slightly out of your comfort zone. If you want to lose weight but are afraid to get started because diets and programs haven’t worked in the past (aka: you’re afraid of failure), make it a simple goal to walk everyday. Whether it’s a a mile or more, do it simply because it’s good for you. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to overhaul your entire life overnight: take it one action at a time so that you can build confidence in yourself.
4. Remember: This Is A Learning Experience
Typically, we resist leaving our comfort zone and taking risks because we’re afraid that we’ll fail. We’re afraid that we’ll “rock the boat” and make ourselves uncomfortable … and still not achieve what we set out to achieve.
This is a super reasonable view. Why try? After all, if we don’t try, we don’t fail, right?
Unfortunately, if we don’t try … we have failed to ever reach that goal by default.
If we TRY, we learn valuable lessons that provide us a foundation for success the next time we try. And, sometimes, those lessons are exactly what we needed to learn in order to succeed!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that we weren’t meant to stay safe at harbor our entire lives. We were put here with desires and dreams so that we would have the chance to fulfill them! To say “no” to them is to effectively say “no” to life.
Let’s start living.