What do you do mindlessly? Are there activities or routines that you jump into without thinking?

We are creatures of habit. It’s easy to gravitate toward activities and environments that reinforce our expectations or existing beliefs. In other words, it’s easy to stay in our comfort zone.

The love of comfort is frequently the enemy of greatness. – The Accidental Creative

But hovering around our comfort zone can be a creative death sentence. We can easily slip into repetitious patterns that cause us to miss potential opportunities and brilliant ideas. Here are a few methods for staying out of your comfort zone:

Disrupt your thoughtless patterns. Do something that intentionally grates against your natural tendencies. Choose an activity, a conversation, a method that feels a little unusual to you. I thought about this yesterday evening as I was sitting in my hotel in Boise, ID. I’d just wrapped up a day-long session with a fantastic group (and – as a bonus – had my photo taken on the blue turf at Bronco stadium…), and was sitting in my hotel reading, writing, surfing the web, all of which are my thoughtless tendencies, while ignoring the gorgeous weather and beautiful surroundings of Boise. I decided to get out and do something, and as a result netted a few new ideas for projects I’m working on.

Know your comfort zone and work hard to stay out of it. – riCardo Crespo, 20th Century Fox

Develop a new skill. It is incredibly uncomfortable to try new things. We feel like a failure at first, and perhaps even a little embarrassed. But stretching ourselves and trying something new allows us to expand our platform for expression. It doesn’t have to be directly related to your job. It can be anything. Skill development will push you to expand how to interact with the world. When was the last time you learned a new skill?

Make a new friend. OK, introverts – I carry your flag. I’m perfectly happy on my own curled up in a chair with a good book. But I’ve noticed that this introverted tendency sometimes prevents me from forging new relationships and collaborating with others. While it’s uncomfortable for me to pick up the phone and set a time to get together with a friend, I’ve come to realize that it’s essential for my growth.

I’ve used each of these methods at various times to disrupt my love of comfort and my thoughtless habits. They’ve helped me get out of “the grooves” and explore new opportunities.

So…how do you stay out of your comfort zone? Share in the comments.

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