Some people are adventurous by nature. They thrive on the feeling of the unknown and enjoy the challenges that doing something new and exciting gives them. There are other people who are not like this. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, I am one of these people. The thought of doing something different to my normal routine fills me with anxiety and nerves. For me, I find agreeing to anything slightly out of the normal massively daunting, so people are always shocked to find that I am an avid traveller. If you feel like your comfort zone is holding you back and you don’t know how to break free, start learning how to say yes now.
Make small changes
Travel is a big thing to take on, so in order to make the process less daunting, start making small changes in your day to day life. Whether it is joining a club where you don’t know anyone or making the effort to cycle home when you get usually get the bus, doing things that you don’t normally do will make your life feel more varied and exciting. These small changes will make it easier to build up to bigger goals.
Think about the person you want to be
I find I often talk myself out of things because I have already made up my mind that certain challenges are not for ‘someone like me’. A big struggle of mine is to move away from the kind of person I naturally am (a big wimp in other words) and try to be more like the person that I want to be (think WonderWoman meets Brody Dalle). If you are someone who takes comfort in routine and familiarity, it can be really difficult to change this mindset. It is important to remember that progress comes at a price and you nearly always have to leave your comfort zone to move forward.
Do what scares you
Before Tim and I went paragliding, I was sure I was going to hate it. Heights are one of my biggest fears and I couldn’t envisage any situation in which I was going to enjoy running off a mountain hundreds of feet up. As usual, it turned out that this was just my mind making excuses to keep me locked inside my comfort zone. Somewhat surprisingly, I adored paragliding but I would never have realised that if I hadn’t bitten the bullet and given it a go.
Find inspiration from other hapless travellers
In the age of the internet, it is easy to find inspiration for travel. Remember that no matter how confident someone appears, they also had to travel for the first time once too. Things get easier the more you do them. If you still don’t believe that you are wise/clever/brave enough to travel, have a look at blogs by other people who are making it up as they go along. If you’re reading this, you’ve already found one clueless traveller but also check out Never Ending Footsteps. A self-proclaimed walking disaster, Lauren’s hapless travel attempts are bound to inspire you.
Say yes even if you don’t feel ready
I have an overwhelming tendency in life to put things off until the ‘time is right’. As I’ve got older and spoken to other people, I have had to learn that for someone like me, the time is never right. I am a perfectionist and one of those people that like to be able to tick certain boxes before I make big changes in my life. The fact is though, when (and if) I achieve those goals, I just end up adding to them, in order to make my departure circumstances more perfect. This results in me never really doing anything without a push. To conquer this, I have made saying yes one of my travel commandments!
Find someone you’re happy to make the jump with
In my opinion, this is the best way to get out of your comfort zone and one of the reasons that I prefer to travel as part of a couple. No matter how daunting it is, find someone who will pull you out of your comfort zone. Even if it results in kicking and screaming, it is probably something that you will feel grateful for in the end. When Tim and I travel, I am definitely the cautious one and he is the one with the confidence and bravado (misplaced or not). I pull him back when he’s about to do something completely stupid and likewise, he pulls me forward when I’m being a chicken and am close to missing out on something amazing. Tackling your comfort zone as a team will make your fears easier to conquer overall.
Throw your bag over
As a long-term listener of the Travel Stories podcast, this is one of the most important lessons I have picked out from Hayden’s ramblings. Once you throw your bag over the fence, you have no choice but to go over the fence after it. If you are scared about agreeing to that first time backpacking trip or taking that job overseas, then just take a deep breath and throw your metaphorical bag over the fence. Book those flights, arrange that meeting, reserve that hotel. With concrete plans already in motion, it becomes a hell of a lot harder to back out. This is another great thing about travelling with a buddy, you have someone with you to hold you accountable for the decisions you’ve made and push you to go through with them.
Taking that first step and deciding to jump into the unknown is really hard, especially if you are a cautious person by nature. One thing is sure though, saying yes is the hardest part and once you’re out there living it, I bet you won’t want to stop.
What are your tips for getting out of your comfort zone?
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