Break Out Of The Comfort Zone With These 16 Exercises

When you feel safe with the stimuli around you and are able to indulge in the activities and behaviors you prefer, you are in your “comfort zone.”

If you never step out of it and into unfamiliar scenarios and situations, you may become stuck in hard-to-break patterns that make it difficult to discover people, places and experiences that could help propel you into the next stage of your life and career.

Below, 16 experts from Forbes Coaches Council share their best tricks and tips for leaving your comfort zone behind and opening up to unique perspectives, previously unseen possibilities and fresh, innovative ways of thinking

1. Take Two New Actions Every Day

Each and every day, take two very small, simple, baby-step actions on something you have been sitting on for too long. Two new actions a day will get you in the habit of living intentionally, which will put you on a forward-moving path. Before you know it, you will have become a massive action-taker, and stepping out of your comfort zone each day will become a habit as well as an addiction! – Shilpa Kulshrestha, Scintillate Coaching

2. Get ‘Grounded’ First

An effective way to tap into your courage and step into new desired behaviors is to get “grounded” first. Research shows that mindful breathing (six breaths in 30 seconds) reduces stress and anxiety and increases focus and creativity. Now, you are poised and ready to take novel action! – Diana Long, Life and Work Design

3. Adopt A Service Mindset

See every encounter through the lens of serving others as your customer: Whether they are a potential client, a colleague, an internal peer or a direct report, how can you be of service to them? “Seeing” others in this way takes the focus off of you, and it can activate their comfort and trust in you, which in turn, helps them engage with you and truly connect. Connecting is magical. – Annette Villamil, Working Bridges

4. Change Your Perspective

A key mental trick is to change your perspective. Be crystal clear on what you want to achieve, and then search your mind for beliefs that are getting in the way of your success. Challenge those beliefs to reshape your view of your own potential in the context of what is truly possible. – David Liddell, Liddell Consulting Group LLC

5. Visualize Best- And Worst-Case Scenarios

It’s a simple trick, but oh-so-effective. Answer two questions: First, what is the best thing that could happen when stepping out of your comfort zone? Visualize it; make it colorful. Then, what is the worst thing that could happen? Choose a likely scenario, nothing too odd. And then, just put it together. Is the likeliness of the best thing happening worth the risk of the worst? If yes, do it. If not, don’t take the risk. – Denise Adomeit, Denise Adomeit Campus for Limbeck Group

6. Try Working Backward

Focus on your reward. I mean this in two ways, both literally and in terms of the bigger picture. Give yourself a reward for taking action. This could be a treat, such as my favorite sweet from the pastry shop or a trip to the driving range. Then, define why the step is valuable. I have tried to embrace being “sillier” as a leadership trait and for our culture, and I have become both more approachable and more empathetic. – Pamela Schilling, Archer Career

7. Challenge Your Thinking

Sometimes our thinking can be irrational or illogical. When you feel uncharacteristically anxious and “worked up” about something that did, did not or might happen, ask yourself, “How do I know?” Answering this question exposes false assumptions and reduces your vulnerability to making mental leaps, assigning intention to things that others do and assuming that the worst possible scenario will happen. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

8. Do A Trial Run Of Your Top Goals

I encourage you to do a trial run of your top goals. If you can’t imagine yourself at a higher level, achieving them will be more difficult. Challenge yourself to go visit an open house at your ideal home or business location, test drive a dream car or speak to a travel agent to plan that exotic getaway. Leave your comfort zone behind! Your dream life is ready to be manifested. – Shellie Hipsky, Inspiring Lives International and Global Sisterhood

9. Approach New Ideas With Curiosity

Familiarity is at the core of the comfort zone. Try approaching new concepts and experiences using one of the seven pillars of mindfulness: the curiosity of a child’s mind. What was once new, unknown and perhaps even “scary” is now familiar. As children, we learn and discover with limitless possibility; so how can you revive that inner child? What is possible if you expand your comfort zone? – Devon D’Andrea, Explore Well-Being Co.

10. Follow This ‘9-6-3’ Strategy

Follow my “9-6-3” strategy to step out of your comfort zone right away. It is natural for each one of us to find our own pocket of brilliance and stay there. Breaking out of it is not easy. Here is what I suggest you do: Find nine people on your team to whom you can contribute, find six people you can turn to for support and find three people who have influence within the company, then connect with them. – Kapil Kulshreshtha, Scintillate Pty Ltd

11. Start Where You Find Joy

Start where you already find a lot of joy. Do you love to cook, read or watch movies? Find one activity that you already love and spice it up by doing something different. If you like to exercise, instead of taking that walk to the park, take a different route and see how that feels. You’ll instantly notice new things, see yourself asking different questions and feel refreshed by new insights. – Monica Kang, InnovatorsBox

12. Practice ‘Fast Decisions’ And ‘Fast Action’

One of the reasons we stay in our comfort zone is that we overthink, overanalyze and overcomplicate. We can combat that by practicing fast decisions. Next time you sit down to order a meal, or play the “what to watch on Netflix” game, give yourself two minutes to make a decision, and then stick to it. – Kate Bagoy, Kate Bagoy International

13. Lean Into Uncertainty

To develop new habits and skills, there is no substitute for persistent practice, and the same goes for learning to embrace the ambiguity and messiness of life. No one likes uncertainty, but we can learn to lean into the darkness. We can develop our personal confidence in our own ability to successfully navigate the unknown, thereby expanding our comfort zone into the previously uncomfortable. – Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC

14. Envision Yourself As Someone Else

To step out of your comfort zone, a trick you can try is to flip the script and envision yourself as someone else. This can be a friend, a colleague or an individual impacted by your actions. Envision their experience, perception and potential response. Think about what you would say to a friend who was in your situation, and then tell yourself that. – Faith Fuqua-Purvis, Synergetic Solutions Consulting LLC

15. Set Goals That Stretch You

Don’t love networking? Go to a networking event with a goal of meeting five new people. Struggle with building your brand online? Commit to posting one thing on LinkedIn each day for five days. Setting a specific and achievable goal makes it easier to break out of your comfort zone. – Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital

16. Change One Thing Every Day

A simple challenge is to change one thing about your routine every day. Take another route to your office, for example; or change your morning routine by going for a walk before having your coffee, instead of drinking your coffee first thing while listening to the news. Introduce one novel thing into each day. It could be something as simple as trying a new recipe or a new coffee flavor. – Roula Saba Mouhanna, CoreChange

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1. Combine Gifts, Passions And Innovation

Know who you are today by doing a fresh analysis of your gifts and passions. Use the results of your analysis as your lens for identifying unmet needs in the business world. Think outside the box by breaking away from conventional wisdom. Combining your gifts and passions with innovative ideas is foundational to a successful business that meets your and your consumers’ needs. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

2. Gain Clarity And Choose Metrics For Success

I’ve had numerous pro-service clients do this, and most of them have considered it. The most important thing is to have clarity about why you want to start a business. The second thing is to very carefully choose the metrics that will indicate to yourself that you are succeeding. Your “why” and your metrics will keep you grounded when the going gets tough—and it will. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

3. Leverage Your Experience And Do A SWOT Analysis

Know your strengths, be clear on your personal motivation and leverage your current experience and insights that you have developed over the years in your industry. Think about the pains and gains your clients have experienced and gaps that have not been filled. I also recommend doing a SWOT analysis to gain clarity and alignment and to determine the value proposition. – Breshana Miller, Kairos Coaching & Consulting, LLC

4. Brainstorm With Close Friends

You can’t hesitate or keep your new business too close to your chest. You need to brainstorm with your closest friends, your professional network and those whom you trust. Bounce your ideas off of others and see if they resonate. What do they think your new business is worth? Who do they think the customers would be? Do they know someone who would buy? Have that conversation 100 times and get to work. – Jacob Warwick, ThinkWarwick

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5. Match The Commercial Proposition With The Value You Offer

It is important to match the commercial proposition with the value that you are offering. Before leaving, start researching the potential market to ensure there is a real need. When you are clear on the commercial viability, you can reverse-engineer the process to ensure the proposition fits with your personal drive and passion. – Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service

6. Have A Strong Support System In Place

Being an entrepreneur and working for a corporation require different mindsets. To sustain the personal drive and passion, it helps to have a strong support system in place—people who are just as passionate and driven as you and believe in the success of the new business, such as friends, a mastermind group or an experienced coach who can ensure there is a balance between work and personal well-being. – Masha Malka, The One Minute Coach

7. Don’t Follow Your Passion—Bring It To An Opportunity

Don’t follow your passion. I’d rather you bring your passion and drive to an opportunity. The first step is finding a way to improve lives in exchange for profit, then apply your natural passion and drive to improve as many of those lives as possible as efficiently as possible. Because when you do that really well, vision, momentum, growth and, eventually, profit are the results. – David Robertson, Growthpoint Coaching Co.

8. Leverage What Makes You Irreplaceable

You need to clarify the market need for what you do via research, interviews and more. In regard to fulfilling your own needs, a reflective, holistic approach is required to uncover your own personal wants, needs and values to be successful. And above all else, you must uncover something that makes you irreplaceable in the market that you serve. Get all those right and then go for it! – Linda Martin, Linda Martin Results

9. Connect With Your Four Selves

First connect with your four selves—intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical—and be crystal clear about your purpose and commitment to it. Launching a new venture requires all your energy and commitment. Sometimes, it’s rough. Second, get deep input and feedback from those around you—both your trusted network and your more fearless critics. The wider the scope, the richer the insights. – Luis Costa, Luis Costa – coach · facilitator · speaker

10. Enroll Clients To Help Craft Your Company Vision

Get connected to your purpose, build a business plan around your core values and enroll the customers you want to serve to help craft the company vision. In doing this, you will likely find that your needs and the needs of your future customers are very aligned. Trust that a successful launch will follow and that you will have a tribe of allies ready to offer guidance and support when needed. – Emily Rogers, Emily Rogers Consulting + Coaching

11. Outline The Customer Journey And Your Sales Funnel

First, outline the customer journey to define the scope of their need. Second, outline your marketing and sales funnel. If you are not excited to do that, hire someone who is or don’t launch. If the idea of selling and marketing for hours every week does not excite you, pursue a hobby instead. Third, if you don’t have the drive or passion to build a business, get a dog. The dog will love you back every day. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group

12. Experiment With A Minimum Viable Product

Take small steps. Too many people get sucked into the entrepreneurial dream without realizing how tough it can be. I would suggest experimenting with the product—take a minimum viable product (MVP) to the market and get feedback. Leaning on your personal drive, experiment with your own business identity. Too many people overestimate their passion and drive and underestimate the challenge. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

13. Take An Inside-Out Approach

Start with your mission and vision. I believe, as a coach, taking an inside-out approach where executives can start exploring their passion as well as what they would see as success for this new endeavor is key. Then, we can explore the marketplace and how this would be sustained as a successful business by developing a strategic business plan. Allow your personal drive to set the tone for success. – Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space

14. Build A Business Around Your Retirement Dreams

Start by thinking about your retirement. If you grew your business and sold it for a killing, what would you then be doing in life? At that point, when you wouldn’t have to think about money and profits, what would you be doing with your time? That’s what you should build your business around. It’s bound to be an area where a strong customer or market need is coupled with your own passion and drive. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting

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