The comfort zone, as defined by Lifehacker, is a “behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk” — the operative words here being stress and risk. In our comfort zone, there is a sense of familiarity, security and certainty. When we step outside of our comfort zone, we’re taking a risk, and opening ourselves up to the possibility of stress and anxiety; we’re not quite sure what will happen and how we’ll react.
This is why it is tough.. each time we step out of our comfort zone, we naturally tend to pull back. We want to go back to where there is a sense of familiarity, security and certainty.
And this is what happens when we find ourselves exposed to a different cultural environment for example. From language, to food, to music, everything is different from what we are used to. The natural reaction would be to step back in our familiar space and recreate our comfort habits as we are used to. So we will keep eating only our own cusine, only reading our own magazines, hang out only with our fellow nationals, listen only to our own music. But if we do this we will miss out a great deal.. and most of all an opportunity of growth.
Generally how can we expect to evolve in our lives and careers if we only stick to habit and routine? Reaching new heights involves the risk of attempting something we might not succeed at.
Want to practice a bit? Here are five steps you can take to gradually expand your comfort zone — and practice to embrace cultural change!
1. Seek out new and unfamiliar music and add it to your playlist, even if you don’t like it the first time you hear it. Keep introducing new sounds and sensations to your world!
2. Try a new ethnic restaurant with cuisine you’ve never tasted before. You have no idea what to order? Ask the restaurant staff to help you or look up at other tables and see what inspires you!!
3. Look up for some books based on other readers’ recommendations. Dive into a novel and a non-fiction book. Many people give up reading because they become too busy. They forget how reading expands their worldview!
4. Drive home from work a different way than you normally do or purposely get lost in your town and find your way home. Maybe you’ll come across a new neighbourhood that you need to explore later!
5. Check in with a friend you haven’t seen in ages who lives in another city or country. Reach out to someone you barely know and invite them for coffee or lunch. Expand your social circle, at work and everywhere
An extra tip:
Allow yourself to dream about your own possibilities, far beyond your current job and your current life situation. Let your mind wander as far as it wants to go. Your potential is limitless!