Get INTO your comfort zone

There are plenty of articles out there offering advice to those who seek to challenge themselves to do things outside your normal capacity, e.g. attempting an unfamiliar task or taking on a mission that seems too huge to handle. These articles are usually titled “get out of your comfort zone”. Most contain similar themes on the importance or benefits of doing so - growth or development ranks high on the list, and of course, tips to help you get out of your comfort zone. 

As I was pondering this, a question randomly came to mind. Why couldn’t I bring the challenge INTO my comfort zone instead? I’m not here to debunk the notion of “getting out of your comfort zone” but to put forward another point of view. This is because in conversations with people, I sometimes get the impression of “getting out of your comfort zone” as doing something to master a skill even if you dislike it. Usually, it's also further reinforced with “encouraging” phrases like “fake it ‘til you make it”, which to me, could somewhat imply for one to be someone they’re not. I wonder if a simpler understanding and more positive approach of this could be, enhancing the way you live your passion by getting the challenge into your comfort zone

My passion is people and travel. In fact, my purpose for exploring the world is to enhance my understanding of different cultures because I believe that with greater awareness and recognition of each other's way of life, we will find that we are all much more alike than we would have thought. Perhaps, then we can come together towards making the world a more gracious and accepting place. 

My challenge, having an ISFJ personality where the ‘I’ stands for introverted i.e. I’d be one of the last people to strike up a conversation with a stranger at a party. How am I going to learn about someone else’s culture if I can’t talk to them? I suppose an easy solution is to join a tour or hire a guide. However, as achievement and adventure are two of my core values, I wouldn’t feel like I’m honoring myself if I take the easy way out. 

One of my strengths is adaptability. We can also call this my comfort zone. So, before the start of a foreign trip, I adapt my introverted mind to shift towards the extroverted side of the spectrum. First, I prepare a list of a few simple conversation starters in the local language e.g. what is this, where is it from, which part of the country are you from, etc. Then, I create a fun challenge for myself like: during this trip, I will track how many of the questions on the list I’ve asked or how many times did I ask the same question or how many new words have I learned. 

Over a decade of globetrotting and I still get heart palpitations at times when I need to strike up a conversation with a stranger on my travels. One lesson that has stuck with me until today which I now use as a sharp reminder to myself was from a trip to Tromso, Norway. After an arduous 36-hour journey from Oslo, I was too exhausted to strike up a conversation with fellow dorm mates while cooking dinner in the kitchen and just cooked-ate-slept. I woke up the next morning to learn that there was an amazing display of the aurora borealis that night which pretty much everyone in the dorm saw. So now, I would stop myself from sliding towards the introverted side of the spectrum by telling myself, “better speak to someone or you might miss out on the greatest experience of the trip”! This is how I get the challenge into my comfort zone and enhance the way I live my passion. 

Aurora Borealis. Missed the one in Norway but caught this in Iceland.
Aurora Borealis. Missed the one in Norway but caught this in Iceland.

How do you enhance the way you live your passion? Drop me a comment below. 

Want to bring challenges into your comfort zone? 

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