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Get Uncomfortable

December 6, 2012

Over the last few months, I have realized my comfort zone is quite expansive.  I would typically describe myself as adventurous – I have travelled, been skydiving, am the first to jump in line for roller coasters, etc.   However, when it comes to my day-to-day life, I typically stick to my standard restaurants, daily rituals, and handful of activities.  While enjoying a routine helps to keep most of us stay sane, it can also be holding us back from personal and professional growth.

While researching ways to “get uncomfortable,” here were some of the more practical suggestions I came across:

  1. Diversify- Go to lunch a co-worker of a different ethnicity to learn more about their culture, food, family and traditions.  Or find a new restaurant and let them know you would like to learn about their cuisine.  Many times, the owner or chef will be happy to speak with you personally.
  2. Stay Current- Make an effort to stay current with sports, popular movies, and popular activities.  This will help start conversations with people around you and build new relationships.  When traveling alone, I try to always talk to the person sitting next to me on the plane or waiting in the lobby.
  3. Volunteer- If there a something that you want to learn to do, try doing it for free or almost free. There are freelance boards and community outreach programs looking for help, check if they have entry-level work in the skill that you want to learn.
  4. Put Down Your Cellphone- Many opportunities to spark new conversation are lost because any down-time is filled staring at your Smartphone.
  5. Work on New Projects- If you have any spare time at work, fill it with tasks slightly out of your job description or that have visibility to business vendors, other departments, or unfamiliar co-workers.

Often we get stuck in doing the same type of tasks or look for a similar position because this is where we feel most comfortable. Expanding your visibility, networking, and taking on new projects helps to get out of your professional comfort zone and develop new skills.

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