We talk a lot about getting out of our comfort zone, but what is comfort zone anyway?
We, in our comfort zones, are like snails in their shells where they feel safe, comfortable and sheltered.
It is our familiar invisible zone, being comfortable at home where there could be a storm or sweltering hot sun outside.
Everyone would feel it at some stage in our lives when we would get used to living in our comfort zone from time to time.
As we begin to mature feeling like we have learned it all, step into the society, find a job, have a partner, get into the cycle of routines and settle down with familiarity, the idea of doing new things would wane off slowly with what seem to be replaced by the regular desire to rest and just have fun to de-stress after a long week of depleting your fighting spirits. If we continue this into a routine, we’d soon find ourselves less likely to explore beyond what we are accustomed to.
In another word, it also means not to rock the boat when it is calm and stable, because who knows what lies under the calm water if you capsize?
How would taking up a new job offer seem more exciting when you are already well paid or have great friends (colleagues) at the workplace where you’ve worked for the last five years?
Why pay to scare yourself with bungee jumping, or skydiving?
Why go through the trouble to start the entrepreneurship journey you’ve always thought about when you are already in a management position, even though you’re not really devoted to your work?
When Everything feels Alright, just not Perfect. 
It is interesting how we rarely feel being out of comfort zone when we were younger. One of the most probable reasons could be that we were still in our curious age then, when we would want to know more and ask a lot of whys; plus the fact that we’re always being taught about something in school, having to do assignments and prepare for exams, learning new trends and exploring stuff with our peers.
Getting out of our comfort zone does not mean we do crazy stuff to risk our lives without thinking. It means that we seek within ourselves, ask ourselves where we are today, if we are happy or if we are living the life that we want, weight the risks and consequences to finally live it out our way. It means doing something for yourself so some day you won’t sit back and think, ‘If Only’ or ‘What If”
We could stay in this situation and live our lives the way it is today, for the rest of our lives, if it makes us happy and we are contented, but there is a limit to feeling contentment.
What if we could be more than this? More often than not, many who have lived their lives the same way for years, would feel stuck at some point, wishing that they want to do more or be better but like they said, why rock the boat?
If all’s good now, why spoil it? What if we fail and embarrass ourselves?
What if we take that step forward with our leap of faith to brace our courage and face the fears that kept nagging at us, press on and achieve whatever challenge we set for ourselves anyway?  How might your life be different tomorrow, or days after?
What if we just did it anyway? 
What if we succeed and soar?
The first time I did cliff diving at Ariel’s Point, a little island near Boracay with little medical help if anything goes wrong. It took me a long while to even dare move near the plank of wood extending out from the cliff.
It was about three hours after we reached there that I decided to walk on the long plank and finally jump. When I finished waiting for others to jump excitedly  (or rather, until everyone got tired of it), I knew I had to do it at least once in my lifetime. As I inched towards the end of the plank, I wanted to turn back, but then it felt easier just to move forth instead.
Me being a non-swimmer didn’t help me much in confronting my fear.
I stood there, looking down into the water to the lifeguard waiting below, and thought this is it. 
Those were the thoughts that literally went through my head, every single time I told myself to do a challenge.
And I did leap forward. It felt like a good long 10 seconds of free falling and heart dropping moments before I finally hit the water. Boy, was I glad to be able to float up! And then, it felt exhilarating! After that, I felt triumphant, not remembering how long I have struggled inside before doing that jump.
I felt proud of myself, despite all those struggles to be able to overcome my own fears. I had the chance to do it a second time.
Just last week, while we were doing water rafting at a waterfall in Indonesia, I had the same chance to dive off the cliff albeit much lower. Instead of staying in the boat and wait, I told the guide that I was jumping. I climbed up to the top and told my friend to look out for me because I still do not know how to swim. After making sure they were there to catch me, I looked down at the water from a few steps back, walked to the edge, took a step forward and jumped right into the water. All these happened in just a matter of seconds. I didn’t even wait that long to see the scenery!
After making sure they were there to catch me, I looked down at the water from a few steps back, walked to the edge, took a step forward and jumped right into the water. All these happened in just a matter of seconds. I didn’t even wait that long to see the scenery!
It still felt triumphant, though less daunting now!
Breaking Past Your Self
Perhaps one of the best wake-up calls to ourselves is coming to realize how far we can go and how much we can achieve when we didn’t even think we could do them initially.
Perhaps we want to get out of our comfort zone because we desire that feeling of triumph in overcoming our fears, experiencing milestones and achieving things that develop us as an individual. Or maybe, it is how we get to know more about ourselves.
If we don’t challenge ourselves, we won’t know what great things we can do!
I have met many who are uncomfortable with change and would go their way out to make sure things stay the same (company SOP, staying in the same job without promotion for years, being in unhealthy relationships, staying status quo in general) because changes meant they have to learn something new, do something uncomfortable or even admitting they don’t know a lot.
But, how would we be able to move with the society if we stay at where we are today?
Times are changing and we have to move because they don’t wait for us. From listening to cassettes on the walkman to CD Players then mp3 players and iPods to Youtube, the changes have been lightning fast for the older generations.
If we don’t proactively change for the better, we will be forced to adapt in time to come, and the more resistance we show, the harder it is for ourselves. By then, we’d be forced out of our comfort zones.
So how can we be more comfortable with getting uncomfortable and be out of our comfort zone mores regularly?
  1. Say Yes, even when you are not ready yet.Have you in your workplace, at school or home, came across someone who would tell you,”I’m not doing it, cuz I don’t know how to do it’, and they ask you to do it even though you also don’t know!
    We need to tap into our resources and learn, be it through research, reading or asking others to learn and do things we’ve never done before. More importantly, we need to want to do it in the first place.
    Make the commitment by saying Yes. Put in the time and effort to get the knowledge and build the experience.
    Also, dare to ask for help when you need it. We don’t know it all, neither do they, but we can all help each other.
  2. Show UpSigning up for something is easy, be it a course or an event since most of them can be done online these days anyway.
    What is hard is to pull yourself up from the bed early morning, get yourself off the couch in the afternoon and put your feet out of your house to show up. Just show up anyway!
    We can give loads of excuses and justification, but when we don’t show up, we miss out on what could be.
    If you want to live a healthy life, but you don’t show up at the tracks, how much closer are you to your goal today than yesterday? Not much.
    If you want to start a business, but you keep saying later and someday, would the business even materialize? You guessed it right.
    If you say you need to improve your communication skills, but you keep avoiding others, how would that help you in any way? It won’t.
  3. Have a Bucket List? Cross them off your list!A bucket list is not to for us to drop our wishes or desires into the bucket and keep them full. We could go on and on and add items after items to our lists but if we don’t act on them, lists are still lists and wishes will remain as wishes decades down the road.
    Pick one out of your bucket list, make a plan and go do it anyway. What to climb a mountain? See a live volcano? Be a nurse? Ski in the snow? Teach kids? Drive alone? See sunsets? Ride hot air balloon? Travel the world? Ride a Horse? Learn a Language? Want to be a public speaker?
    Make a plan. Sign up and show up. Go do it.
  4. Choose A Goal to Work on for 30 DaysSet a Goal. Learn a skill. Master an expertise. Change a Bad Habit.
    They will change your life.
    Want to wake early? Thinking of starting an exercise regime? Want to quit smoking? Want to lose weight? Do you want to learn cycling? Or swimming? Want to stop snacking? Stop nail biting?
    Stick with it for at least 30 days. Make it into a habit, then your lifestyle.
  5. Accept Crazy Spontaneous Suggestions Do things you’ve never thought you’d do before.
    I’d never have climbed into the crater of a live volcano in the middle of the night just to see the ‘Blue Fire’ in Indonesia if I’d chose to stay at the top just to watch the sunrise.
Tongariro Crossing and Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Doom
Nor would I have climbed up ‘Mt Doom’ (Mt. Ngauruhoe) in Lord of the Rings on all fours if I’ve not spontaneously agreed with my trekking mate that we’d try.
6.     Set BIG SCARY Targets. 
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ― Norman Vincent Peale
Don’t set mediocre goals and achieve mediocre results to feel mediocre. You can do so much better and so much more than you think.
When you set huge goals, you will be more motivated when you work on them. You will also be more willing to move forward when you see small results add up. These add to your experience and confidence as you build yourself up along the way.
7.    Breathe Deep, and Keep Going.
Sometimes, you just need a leap of faith. What lies in front feels scary, but it’s too late to turn back now. So just breathe in deep, and let your heart guide your path.
When I was climbing Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom) in New Zealand. I was underprepared for the climb but I told my travel friend that we’d try. Just Try, is a strong word.
I’d tell you how under-prepared I was. I had a Longchamp bag slung over me, and a Nalgene bottle that wouldn’t fit in. So I had to hold it in one hand while climbing upwards fearing I’d slip down or have a rock hit me from above.
I was so underprepared that I wanted to head down when we reached the first point, panting, thinking that we were almost there when we were only a third of the way up.
There were so many times I wanted to give up. It was tough despite being only 2291m high.
I remembered the tour guide telling us that if we’re not fit, don’t even consider it. He also said, ‘It’s like one step forward, and two steps back!” I totally tasted what he meant there and then.
Looking up seemed so difficult, but I turned around and I froze. There was no way I could turn back because it was so steep and I hadn’t a clue how to get back down.
So I breathed deep and kept going.
8.    Get Somebody to Push You Out of Your Comfort Zone
Up till the last two minutes climb to the summit of the Mt. Doom, I was still thinking about giving up. I told myself that for a first timer, this was good enough.
And, I told myself I didn’t have to complete it to the summit like everybody else. I was contented to be second best. Even though there might not be a second time for me to come back again. I tried yelling for my mate from there and after hundreds of bellows, she still didn’t hear me. I couldn’t leave her behind, so I kept going up.
The summit was beautiful! I was so glad that I made the last stretch.
I took a photo. It was my triumphed face.
My soiled Longchamp bag and the battered bottle has now all worn out with scratches but they are my trophies.
Find somebody who constantly makes you do things you’d never think of. You’d be glad you met them.
Getting out of our comfort zone is not easy at all. For a start, we have to battle with ourselves internally, and then we have to battle the external factors but the hardest hurdle is from the inside. If we are able to beat our fears, we are already halfway to success. The next is to act on them.
With practice, we get better and more used to being uncomfortable. The start is always difficult, but like breaking resistance, the more often we practise, the faster we pick up what we need and the better we become.
As we get comfortable with being uncomfortable, we are then able to tell ourselves, ‘I’ve done it before. I can do this now’, and we end up collecting so much more experiences and expertise each time we say that.
Start today. Just Go.
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