Creatures of Habit

Effective advice for lasting habit change

Even If It Doesn’t Feel Comfortable (At First), Why Not Give It a Try?

Think about leaving your comfort zone every once in a while.

I like good habits for all sorts of reasons, but one of the best reasons is that my good habits help me feel in ‘the groove.' When I'm engaged in my daily routine, things feel somehow natural. It's so easy, though, to allow my good habits to run along, day after day, unchecked.

That's okay, for the most part, I guess. But, I do think that doing something different every once in a while, whether it be small (a different kind of breakfast cereal) or big (spending more of my evenings doing household repair) is a great idea for at least two reasons.

1. Being in my comfort zone all of the time makes me feel uncomfortable. My good habits help me to feel comfortable and that's great. At the same time, though, all of this comfort can be a bit disconcerting at times. And then I start to feel uncomfortable. Makes me feel as though I'm not quite getting enough out of life. Maybe there's something new and different out there that I ought to try. Hang gliding? Mountain climbing? A different route to work? All sorts of possibilities . . . and that's the point. Comfort zones are all well and good, but getting stuck is not.

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2. Doing something new every once in a while can, ironically, remind you of the wonderfulness of your comfort zone and your routine. By occasionally stepping out of your routine, sometimes enjoying the experience (mountain climbing) and sometimes not (attending a union meeting), returning to your comfort zone will be truly . . . comforting, instead of just simply ‘usual.'

So, go ahead and give it a shot. Even though the new and different thing, whatever it might be, makes you feel a bit unsure of yourself, a bit awkward, a bit uncomfortable, that's okay. Who knows, it might soon become part of your routine and then it will feel . . . just right!

For more from yours truly, visit me at My Bad Habits. I am also on Twitter.

Ian Newby-Clark is a psychologist at the University of Guelph who gives research-based advice for lasting habit change.

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