If you’re anything like me, you might be quite glad to see the back of 2020! As our thoughts turn to the new year and the real possibility of a return to something like our normal lives, it’s a great time to step back and take a look at ourselves with a bit of an objective eye.
There’s centuries of tradition around why the new year is the accepted time for fresh starts
In fact, it dates right back to 153BC and Janus, the god of beginnings who gives his name to January. With his two faces, one looking backwards to the old year and one forward to the new, he could forgive wrongdoings in the previous twelve months. The Romans would give gifts and make promises to do better in the coming year, and so the new year’s resolution was born.
Back to the present day, and January is a great time to shake things up
We are all guilty of defaulting to our comfort zone, fitting our activities and behaviours into well-practised routines that cause us no stress and no risk-taking. It’s quite normal. We are creatures of habit. We feel secure and certain in that zone, and stepping outside of it can be a bit scary. By opening ourselves to the unknown, we are exposing ourselves to risk and fear.
But whilst we all need our comfort zones, if we never leave them, they can hold us back. Putting ourselves in a slightly uncomfortable position can drive us to achieve things we might have thought impossible. It’s the way we learn and grow, and expand our experiences.
Taken to an extreme, fear of feeling uncomfortable can progressively narrow our perspectives on life, preventing experimentation or exploration. And here’s the thing about comfort zones – they stretch when we step out of them and shrink when we stay put. What now feels new and strange now will soon become known and familiar. When we keep on stretching our comfort zone, we open ourselves up to learning new things that soon feel, well, quite alright. That’s the time to stretch the zone again. It’s all about expanding our horizons.
Push your limits in 2021
From a work perspective, there are some simple thing you could resolve to do in 2021 to push your limits a little. Here’s our list of suggestions to start you off:-
- Ask for new things to do – approach your boss, and ask to take on a new responsibility.
- Start a work social club – if you have an interest, look for ways to share it with your colleagues and take on the organisation and communication.
- Volunteer to do a presentation – stand up in front of people and speak.
- Initiate a dialogue with someone you would like to have in your professional network
- Invite a co-worker you don’t know so well out for lunch or a coffee with you.
- Decide to learn a new skill and book yourself onto an online training course.
- Ask for feedback from your colleagues
What stretches your comfort zone will, of course, be personal to you, but the list above may include something you would find a little nerve-wracking. The key thing is to acknowledge your fear and do it anyway.
Have you had positive experiences of stepping outside of your comfort zone? Do let us know what happened.