13 Easy Ways to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and Grow

All problems in life experienced personally and professionally are related, even when the work-life balance feels like the greatest hoax ever invented. You’re not satisfied with life and want and deserve so much more. So, claim it.

You need to shake up your life and career, or you will remain stagnant and unsatisfied. You don’t get up to work, sleep, eat, pay bills and die — you were meant for so much more. Here are 13 simple ways to smash your comfort zone and grow personally and professionally:

1. Renew Yourself

If you stick to the same section of the stacks, it’s time to renew yourself at the library. Check out librarian-recommended books. Sometimes, the librarians will write out their own version of the book blurb and why they fell in love with the story.


2. Let New Music Surprise You

Your reliable playlists from your high school and college days see you through tough times at work and moments where you can’t do another curl but try anyway. These songs bring you comfort and remind you of bittersweet moments you either moved on from or need to let go of.

Take a risk and listen to new music, even in a new language. If you’re a country fan, why not give atmospheric or hip-hop a try? Ask friends and coworkers for their favorite go-to songs.


3. Engage Your Palate

Engage your palate with cuisines you’ve never tasted before. Sure, you may love your regular Chinese takeout, but have you tried authentic Szechuan recipes?

Find a new restaurant with a friend, or make an authentic recipe at home after a visit to your local Asian grocery.
4. Take Yourself on a Date

Sometimes, you want to get out and about, but no one is free or you may have recently gone through a breakup. It’s tough keeping a straight face in your personal and professional lives, but realize you need to nurture your relationship with yourself. You are constantly growing, even when you don’t see it.

Taking yourself on a date is a cliché, but it’s an effective form of self-care to get to know yourself again — the best self-dates are low key. Buy yourself flowers. See a movie alone. Take a social dance lesson, or go to see an art museum showing. Take a day trip by yourself.

Want to change your life? Date yourself.


5. Participate in Corporate-Sponsored Training

Many think of corporate-sponsored training programs as boring, required sessions in which you try not to drill your pencil into your brain while listening to redundant PowerPoint presentations about the power of positivity and effective productivity habits.

Not all corporate-sponsored training is boring or redundant. Some programs give you options and provide time to pursue credits outside the office with a travel stipend. If no such option exists, create one and write a convincing proposal to your boss detailing the course outline, merits and what you will take away from the experience.

Why not offer to teach a course in something you feel passionate about, as well?


6. Make a List and Let It Go

To-do lists are an intrinsic part of daily life, especially at your job. Now you must make a different kind of list — a list of your problems and concerns in life. While it sounds daunting, remain open and honest as you look over your list.

What do you have true control over? What can be done to change each situation, even if it’s a shift of perspective? Most of what you wrote down is probably outside of your control, so let it go.


7. Start a Volunteer Program at Your Company

You find an abundance of love and gratitude in yourself when you give to others. Magnify that feeling times 10 by starting a volunteer program at your company.

Employee volunteer programs experienced growth in the past decade, with 92 percent of larger companies offering volunteer opportunities to employees — an increase from 68 percent in 2013. Social responsibility is now closely tied to company missions.

Talk to your boss and work on a proposal together, which demonstrates how volunteering doesn’t have to take away from employee duties — a skills-sharing volunteer program combines the best of both worlds.


8. Change Your Work Commute

Want to change your perspective or decrease stress? Change your work commute route.

Getting stuck in traffic only to arrive late at work with multiple deadlines to complete leaves you frustrated, stressed and snippy. Turn on a new street. Take the back roads. Bike to work.


9. Say No More

Are you a doormat? Do you let friends, family and coworkers walk all over you?

Stop apologizing when it’s unnecessary. Stop sacrificing your much-needed self-care time to cater to others’ whims. Say no more, and let that one word free you. Don’t add excuses to it.


10. Attend a Networking Event

Okay, shy one, it’s time to leave the safety of your cubicle and burrito blanket and meet people — professional people. Growing your network never stops.

Connect with individuals on LinkedIn and Twitter to build your network online and gain confidence creatively to attend a local networking event. Online networking may be more approachable, but face-to-face interaction is important, too — especially if you want to be an active part of your community.


11. Flip the Negativity Script

Are you stuck in a holding pattern when it comes to negative self-talk? Let your brain ramble for 15 seconds. Only give negativity 15 seconds to accuse you or put you down, and then put it down.

Accuse the negativity right back and flip the script. For example, if your brain is telling you there’s no way you’ll get that promotion, point out your successes. Start small and build them up as you build yourself up.


12. Reach Out to Acquaintances

Many people in life remain on the outskirts of social circles, not necessarily intentionally. Life happens, and you get busy. Reach out to acquaintances, and ask someone out for coffee. Let the conversation unfold, and you may find a new activity partner.


13. Listen to TED Talks

Some days you need a pick-me-up, and motivational posters in the break room and cat videos on YouTube don’t do it for you.

Take 10 or 20 minutes out of your day, whether at work or home, to listen to TED talks to gain major career inspiration, such as the intrinsic link between happiness and success at work. Let happiness inspire you to success, and don’t work yourself into a grave.

Watch the videos to release stress and learn tips to become a better speaker.

Many people feel stuck in life at one point or another. Being passed over for a promotion or leading a nonexistent social life isolates you and makes you doubt your abilities to succeed.
Your comfort zone feels safe, but it can be toxic to your personal and professional growth. Use these 13 tips to smash your comfort zone, grow and find inspiration to move onward and upward.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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