By Liz Ryan
It’s a useful exercise is to get out a piece of paper and write down your problems.
Write down every problem you can think of. You will quickly see that some of your problems are interrelated.
Let’s say you’re unhappy with your job and your social life is no great shakes, either. You realize that one reason you’re unhappy with your life outside of work is that you never see your friends. They’re pretty frustrated with you, in fact.
Why don’t you see them more often? It’s because you’re always working! Your job is a problem in its own right, but it’s also hurting your social life and therefore your emotional well-being.
Clearly something has to change.
Let’s say you love your job, but you still have problems — like everyone does. Maybe you don’t like your living situation and wish you were in better shape than you are. What can you do about those two problems? You want to get a better apartment but you don’t have enough money saved up yet.
Why is it hard to save money? It’s because you like retail therapy, the way most people do. You buy stuff because it makes you feel better.
Why do you need to feel better? Your job is great. The problem is that you don’t have fun outside of work. Why don’t you have fun activities outside of work? It’s because you’re always working. Now you can see that although you love your job, your biggest problems (no social life, too much spending, hate your apartment) are all related to your fear of setting boundaries with your boss.
For months or years you might have told yourself, “I’d like to leave work at 5:15 instead of 7:00 p.m. at night, but I don’t have control over that. My boss wouldn’t like if it I didn’t work late.”
Now that you look at the root cause of your problems, you may say “I have a new goal. I’m going to work on my confidence and start limiting my work hours this year!”
We get altitude on our lives and careers when we stop and look at how we may be contributing to our biggest problems. It’s hard to see those connections when you’re down in the weeds doing your job, paying bills, doing the laundry and making dinner. You have to get some distance. You have to get altitude. That’s where a journal and a cup of tea come in handy!
The biggest step you can take to grow as a person is to step outside your comfort zone and take risks. Most of us are wired to avoid risks. We don’t want to step out of out comfort zone. It feels incredibly scary even to think about it.
Here are ten steps you can take to gradually expand your comfort zone — and grow your muscles!
1. Seek out new and unfamiliar music and add it to your playlist, even if you don’t like it the first time you hear it. As we get older our trying-new-things muscles get flabby. Keep them strong by introducing new sounds and sensations to your world!
2. Try something new with a friend or by yourself — a walking tour, an adult school class or something else that could be fun if you can take the steps to find it, sign up for it and show up.
3. Try a new ethnic restaurant with cuisine you’ve never tasted before. So what if you mispronounce the menu items? The restaurant staff is used to that. What if it were the most amazing dish you’ve ever tasted?
4. Go to the library and check out some books based on other readers’ or library staff recommendations. Dive into a novel and a non-fiction book. Many people give up reading because they become too busy. They forget how reading expands their worldview and builds their mojo fuel tank!
5. Write down your problems and look for the part of each problem that you have control over. If you look carefully you will see that you have much more influence over your obstacles than you think. Often the influence you have can only be tapped when you step through fear. Look at each problem on your list and ask yourself “What fear is keeping me from surmounting this problem?”
6. Drive home from work a different way than you normally do or purposely get lost in your town and find your way home. Maybe you’ll come across a new neighborhood that you need to explore later!
7. Vary your wardrobe. Think about your look. Does your look still represent you, or is it a holdover from a long-ago version of you?
8. Think about your purpose in life. What do you want to accomplish after you’ve cracked the basic code (e.g. how to stay alive and keep a roof over your head)? Write about that! Create a vision for your life. You don’t have to tell anyone about it. You can refine it by yourself, over time!
9. Check in with a friend you haven’t seen in ages. Reach out to someone you barely know and invite them for coffee or lunch. Expand your social circle, at work and everywhere.
10. Finally, give yourself to permission to dream about your own possibilities, far beyond your current job and your current life situation. Let your mind wander as far as it wants to go. Your potential is limitless — but only when you get the memo!
Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine