What’s often stopping us from reaching our fullest potential is remaining comfortable. Too often, we get complacent with our situation in life. We fall into the trap of being satisfied with our current state, and eventually become fearful of risk and challenge.
Stepping outside our comfort zone is an essential part of personal growth. In order to truly progress, we must be consistently looking for ways to push ourselves past our limits.
So I decided to start a new challenge a few months ago called the 30-day comfort zone challenge. For those 30 days I would attempt to do something that would fit within the description below.
What constituted a comfort zone challenge during these 30 days?
- A new habit implementation.
- Doing something that scares you.
- Doing something that you’ve never done before.
- Doing something that tests your limits.
- Doing something that you’ve been putting off for a while.
In the months leading up to the start of this challenge, I tended not to stray too far from the confines of my comfort zone.
But after completing this 30-day challenge, I felt like my mindset towards life changed quite a bit. Rather than seeing uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing situations as something to avoid, I began noticing I would seek them out.
Frame Discomfort as Something Positive
“It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Anxiety is something that will always be a part of your life. What’s most important is how you choose to frame that anxiety.
There is the concept of the two types of stressors — eustress and distress. Eustress is stress that is beneficial to your life. It can serve as a good motivator, challenging you to accomplish more, and improving your performance.
On the other hand, distress is negative stress which causes you excessive worry and demotivation.
All my life, I’ve viewed anxiety and stress as distress. Something negative that I always ran away from and avoided.
Through doing this challenge, I’ve started to seek discomfort as a necessary part of growth. I saw the stress that comes with anxiety-inducing situations as something that will make me a stronger person. To conquer your fears, you must condition yourself to them until they only bother you in the most negligible of ways.
And that was also why Toastmasters had been a central piece of the 30 days. I’ve always been deathly afraid of public speaking, so what better way to conquer that fear than to join a public speaking club?
Being uncomfortable is a sign of growth. Learn to look at it in a different light. Embrace discomfort and live life like an adventure.
“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” — Dan Stevens
Constantly Look for Ways to Step Outside of Your Boundaries
Doing this comfort zone challenge was a test of willpower. It became a part of the routine in my life. Every night, I would brainstorm a way in which I could get out of my comfort zone the next day. I would bounce ideas off my friend, Paul, who was doing the challenge with me as well.
At times, we would fail. Life would sometimes come up and we would not be able to get any challenge done for the day. But rather than get discouraged, we helped keep each other on track, and seeing the other person accomplish a challenge only gave us the motivation to keep moving forward.
As the routine of “finding something to do outside of your comfort-zone” gradually became ingrained in my mind, I started noticing the habit throughout my daily life. Every day, I would look for opportunities in which I could step out of my comfort zone.
And this was evident in one challenge I did, in which I ordered a meal at Asian Box, and then at checkout I asked for a 10% discount on my order (for no apparent reason).
The cashier then gladly gave it to me. It was a slight nudge out of my comfort zone, but it taught me a valuable lesson — in life and business, you have to ask for things, and you have to be continually finding ways to put yourself out there. “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.”
Instead of seeking for ways to get out of our comfort zones only in specific situations, try looking for ways in your everyday life to get out of your little bubble. Whether it’s giving a compliment to someone walking down the street, taking a cold shower in the morning, or even talking to a friend that you haven’t seen in a while — treat every day like an adventure to embark on. You can either avoid the obstacles that come with the adventure, or valiantly conquer them like a true warrior.
“Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles in life.” — John Amatt
Treat Life Like a Video Game
Never take life too seriously. At times, the challenges I did were a little more light-hearted, such as dancing next to the UCI Kaba Modern team while they were rehearsing (and horribly embarrassing myself) or even asking if I could do pull-ups at a restaurant — catching a few laughs and getting shot down by all the employees that worked there.
Who cares what other people think of you? Most of the time, people are far too busy caring about what other people think of them.
Think of it this way, each time you succumb yourself to an uncomfortable scenario, or successfully integrate a new habit into your life, you level up. You become more powerful and more readily able to tackle different opportunities.
So every chance you get, look for the opportunities that will allow you to gain the experience to level up in life.
Pay it Forward
Another challenge that I completed which had greater meaning was paying it forward — in which I bought a random person their lunch and then encouraged them to do the same for someone else.
The person I bought Chipotle for that day approached me outside and was rather shocked that someone he didn’t know paid for his food. But after telling him the reasoning behind it, he was inspired to do the same for someone else.
I received inspiration for this challenge from a Facebook video where two individuals went to grocery stores paying for other family’s groceries. It was incredibly touching to see their reactions and especially how those families (and even cashiers) then sought out to do the same for others.
It created a ripple effect. One simple act of kindness was the catalyst in a chain of generosity. You never know the impact such a small, yet powerful gesture can bring to someone’s life.
So try it out the next time. Just pick up the tab for the person behind you the next time you’re doing something affordable such as buying coffee. Not only can you make someone’s day, it can even make you a far more happier person in general.
30-Day Comfort Zone Challenge Recap
Day 1 — Start vlogging on snapchat, documenting every day of the challenge. Talking on camera was always something that gave me anxiety.
Day 2 — Take cold showers every morning for a month.
Day 3 — Sign up for Toastmasters. If you’re interested in joining check out tmcontrarians.com
Day 4 — Start a new habit: read over all book/article notes once a month.
Day 5 — Learn Muay Thai.
Day 6 — Start yoga practice.
Day 7 — Take 4-aco-dmt (synthetic shrooms).
Day 8 — New habit: start speaking slower and more intentionally.
Day 9 — Keep room and desk clean at all times
Day 10 — Try to do pull ups at restaurant. Get rejected by all the employees.
Day 11 — Dance with KABA Modern team during their rehearsal.
Day 12 — Sign up for a role I’ve never done: Table Topics Master at Toastmasters.
Day 13 — Pay it forward. Buy someone’s food.
Day 14 — Fast for 36 hours.
Day 15 — Wake up at 5 to workout for 30 minutes (HIIT & running) while still fasted.
Day 16 — Quit Alcohol for 25 days.
Day 18 — Start a daily mantra.
Day 19 — Phone interview with a company for an iOS developer job.
Day 20 — Strike up a conversation and make friends with a random person at the gym.
Day 21 — Micro-dose LSD as a nootropic. Failed and took a little too much (25ug~), ended up tripping for a short while. However, had a fantastic day.
Day 22 — Go 3 days without spending any money.
Day 24 — Start a skincare routine.
Day 25 — Strike up a random conversation at Trader Joes.
Day 26 — Take 150ug LSD and go into deep introspection in my room.
Day 28 — Workout without music. Be mindful of every set, every rep, every contraction. Since then, I have integrated this into my daily workout sessions.
Day 29 — Ask for 10% discount on food.
Day 30 — Start waking up before 7am every morning for 2 weeks.