I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone lately. Blogging more frequently, posting on Instagram and other social media outlets — even creating my first video blog, or vlog. I’m really putting myself out there, as they say. It’s gotten me thinking about why, and how, we step out of our comfort zones — those familiar places and patters that don’t really challenge us or push us to grow.
So there’s your why — when we step outside of our comfort zones, we face our fears and try something new – perhaps something that will propel us to grow or transform in some way. In the words of self-help guru Tony Robbins, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Who wants that?
Now on to the how. In making a deliberate choice to cultivate more of an online presence, I’ve discerned the following three things that have helped me step into the discomfort. I know they can help you too.
1. Understand your personal goals.
Every now and then, we need to take a step back and assess where we are in our lives and where we’d like to be. Without this self-reflection, inertia takes over and we end up moving through our days and lives on autopilot.
Consider this example: Maybe you want to have more of a social life, because you know that having more friends, or meeting a significant other, will make you feel more connected and fulfilled. At the same time, after a long day of work, all you really want to do is curl up on the couch and catch the latest Scandal episode. Still, you know deep down that when you channel surf every night you’re not moving the ball of your life forward. Thus, you set your goal. Make an effort to be more social, to get out of the house, to interact with others in the evenings.
2. Take deliberate baby steps.
It’s generally true that, when we try to make changes in our lives, baby steps are the way to go. Just like how, over many years, a single drop of water can carve canyons out of seemingly immovable stone, little things done consistently can make a lasting impact.
To continue with my example above, it would make sense to set a realistic plan. Instead of staying out five night in a row till midnight, perhaps you could plan one social outing a week. That way, you won’t get burned out, but can still make steady and deliberate progress towards your goal.
If fitness is the area in which you strive to grow, don’t go out and run ten miles on day one (duh). Half a mile for five days in a row is a far, far more effective way to build up endurance and make changes in your body and your overall health. (In fact, there’s a very popular program called “couch potato to 5K” that basically advocates this approach).
3. Don’t give up!
Don’t expect to see change overnight. Like the tortoise in the infamous race, slow and steady is the way to go and to grow. Lasting change takes time, work and dedication. Take time out to reward yourself for taking even very small actions. Out for a social event that felt a little awkward? Promise yourself that, come tomorrow, it’s just you and Shonda Rhimes on the couch come 9 p.m. Worked up to a couple of miles or a full-on vinyasa class? Give yourself a day off.
This summer, I wrote a book. Since then, I’ve been deliberately building up an online presence (including this blog). Last week I signed a contract with a publisher, and the book — which is a modern yogi’s take on ancient yoga philosophy and why it’s relevant today — will hopefully be out in early 2018.
As an unknown author, the book’s success will largely depend, or so I’m told, on how big of an online presence I have. My why is this: I believe in the power of the yoga practice, and know that its wisdom can help people. I want to share that message. And so, my how crystallized: writing, then trying to build up a presence online.
It’s really uncomfortable for me to post pictures. I fear coming across as self-promoting or stuck up. I fear people rolling their eyes and thinking “who does she think she is?” Some days, I wonder that myself. But whether my fears are imagined or real, I know my goal. To help people through yoga, so I’m posting and blogging. Day by day. Slowly. Not giving up, even if no one “likes” what I have to share. This is really out of my comfort zone. But I know that through it, I will grow in some way – whether or not anyone ever reads my book.