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No More Excuses: Break Out of Your Comfort Zone for a More Fulfilling Life

No More Excuses: Break Out of Your Comfort Zone for a More Fulfilling Life

Some people always seem full of life and ready to take on every adventure or opportunity life gives them, whether it’s a career-altering task or a request from a friend. You may envy their busy lives and wonder why you aren’t as lucky as they are.

Luck has nothing to do with the quality of their lives vs. the quality of yours. Busy, happy people are less apt to make excuses to avoid new opportunities or turn down reasonable requests from friends and family. Happy people are engaged in life; unhappy people avoid it.

If you always refuse to take on extra work, try something new or help a neighbor, what exactly does it mean? Are you lazy, depressed, rude or a combination of all three? The answer may  change, depending on the situation and your mood.

Maybe you brush off a neighbor every time he asks for help with his yard work, even if he offers you money for that help. If you say no because you are busy with a work or school assignment, or your bad back is flaring up, that’s understandable. If you always say no because you “just don’t feel like doing it”, you need to examine your reasons – or excuses- for opting out of the invitation.

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Is it Laziness – Or Something Else?

If you have a pretty sparse schedule, but spend most of your free time sleeping, eating or watching TV, you may have motivation problems. Lack of motivation can usually be cleared up by journaling and finding constructive goals or hobbies to fill up that spare time.

Lack of motivation can also be depression in disguise. Someone who is depressed will feel unmotivated for two weeks or more, and this lack of motivation usually extends to all areas of their life – work, social life, hobbies, and everyday errands. Laziness may last for a few hours or a day or two. You may avoid cleaning your apartment because you’d rather nap or browse the internet, but eventually, you get up and vacuum the carpet.

If you’re constantly busy, but always berate yourself for not getting enough done, you may have unrealistic expectations. Chill out, and drop any unnecessary commitments from your schedule or reduce the time you spend on them.

A packed schedule with loose ends that you can never tie up may indicate a self-discipline problem. Determine why you’re not completing all your projects. Do you have too many interruptions, such as co-workers, family or friends talking to you or asking for favors while you’re working? Be firm with people who interrupt you. Change your schedule or move to another part of the office (or your house) to avoid interruptions.

Are you easily distracted by YouTube, Facebook or news websites? Use a time-saving   app to track the time you waste on frivolous websites and block you from using them.

Do your work on an internet-free computer (or without a computer, if possible.)

Active vs. Passive Growth

Slow growth is better than standing still, but it won’t help you start a business, get one of your paintings exhibited at a gallery, or win you a spot on the local softball team. Passive, or slow growth, encompasses small, everyday actions you take on your own.

Slow growth is DIY preparation for breaking out of your comfort zone and into a position where you can do more in the world. It’s a good start, but that’s all it is – the beginning. Journal about your goals and write a list of ways you can improve yourself, whether it’s running every morning, or doing volunteer work at a homeless shelter.

Journaling, reading self-help books and watching video tutorials can inspire you, but that inspiration should lead to action. If you read inspirational books and post motivational sayings on your computer, but never take action on the content of those quotes, you’re no better off than before you become “inspired.”

Moving from Being Inspired to Taking Risks

When you try something new, you force yourself to tap into hidden or underutilized abilities. You’ll never know what you can do unless you leave familiar territory.

Taking a risk gives you experience, even if you don’t succeed the first time. You’ll learn from the experience, and be better equipped for success the next time. Doing different things will not only broaden your knowledge, but it will connect you with new people who can help you achieve your goals.

Here are a few of the benefits of taking risks:

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When you take measured risks, you’ll avoid regret and feel more content. If you never take risks, you’ll always wonder what would have happened if you had done things differently. This will lead to regret and possibly depression. It is usually better to take a chance and risk failure than avoid taking action. You don’t want to lie on your deathbed saying, “Woulda Coulda Shoulda.”

Helps You Overcome Fear

So many times, we refuse to take chances out of fear. When you finally do something that scared you in the past, like doing stand-up comedy or giving a presentation at a business meeting, you’ll wonder why you didn’t take the risk sooner. You’ll find there was nothing to fear.

Develops Self-Confidence and Perseverance

There’s always a chance that you will fail if you take a risk. But getting out of your comfort zone improves your resilience and self-esteem, even if you don’t get what you want right away. Many famous people failed hundreds of time before they succeeded. Edison failed 10,000 times before he perfected the light bulb. Colonel Harland Sanders’ chicken recipe was rejected by 1,000 restaurant owners before one said yes. Perseverance is often the difference between success and failure.

Gives You New Opportunities

When you don’t take risks, you stay in the same place, financially, emotionally, socially and creatively. It’s not until you take action that you begin to see positive changes in your life. Changes may be slow or immediate, but they will boost your self-esteem and lead to more doors opening for you.

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Are Your Excuses Valid?

Excuses stop your from enjoying life and reaching your full potential. They are a way of rationalizing your decision not to do something or shriek responsibility. An excuse is a way to take a situation caused by your action or inaction and blame it on something else.

To avoid excuses and open up your life, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions and be prepared to answer them honestly.

Why are you refusing to take action? Usually, avoidance occurs out of fear – fear of the unknown or fear of failure. If you make an excuse not to do something, it also shows that the task was not a priority for you. It wasn’t as important as a doctor’s appointment (a good excuse) or watching TV (a bad excuse).

Think about the excuses you’ve made recently for avoiding projects or outings. Did you refuse to go on a date because it wasn’t a priority (you had work to finish) or because you were afraid to take a chance with a new person? People who are consistently afraid to take chances will stay firmly grounded to their current spot and rarely experience new things or achieve anything noteworthy.

For example, avoid knee-jerk responses when someone asks you for a favor. Weigh the pros and cons of accepting the request. What positive things will happen if you accept? In the example above (a neighbor asking you to help with yardwork), you’ll make extra money, get exercise and sunshine, and get to know more about your neighbor.  If you say no, what will you gain? A few more hours of watching TV or playing video games?

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The Right Priorities Will Change Your Life

If you don’t know where, you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else, according the popular saying, and it’s true. Take time to think about what you want out of life, your passions, and the skills you have (or that you’d like to acquire.) Self-awareness is the key to discovering your priorities in life.

Tell someone you know and trust about your plans, and find a professional to help you work toward your goals. You don’t need to let everyone know your goals – just the people who will support you and help you to achieve those goals.

If you don’t decide what your priorities are, circumstances and other people will create your life for you by default. Your priorities determine the course of you life.  If you care about your health, you’ll exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. People who prefer to go out with friends several nights a week may eat high-calorie restaurant food, drink alcohol, smoke and stay out late. Having a good time is their priority, at the expense of their health.

When you have the right priorities, you’ll make the right choices, and when you make the right choices, you’ll have a better life.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Fear is at the root of excuses and procrastination. It keeps you stuck where you are, stagnant and setting the stage for future regret. To stop making excuses, you must overcome your fear.

A lack of resources, experience, or information leads to the fear that keeps you trapped. Listening to naysayers and toxic people can also make you fearful about taking risks.  When you don’t take risks, you’ll make excuses for that lack of action to increase your self-esteem.

Chip away at your fears by addressing them and taking steps to overcome them. Common fears include:

  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of responsibility
  • Fear of uncertainty

Write a list of the situations you’re afraid to confront, and the excuses you make to avoid them. Talk to a trusted friend to help you identify these patterns in your behavior. It’s sometimes hard to realize you are always making excuses.

Brainstorm a list of ways you can overcome your fears. If you’re afraid of singing in front of people you know, go to a karaoke bar in a different neighborhood, or when you’re on vacation in another city. You won’t need to worry about embarrassing yourself in front of people you know – you’ll never see this audience of strangers again. You’ll have fun, and gain enough self-confidence to eventually sing in front of people you know.

It’s okay to feel the fear and do it anyway. High-achieving athletes, performers, and business leaders accomplish great things in spite of their fears and doubts. They focus on what they need to do to get what they want instead of what could go wrong.

Change Your Diet, Change Your Life

Change your daily routine by eating different foods, dressing up, changing your hairstyle or taking a class in an unusual subject. When you open yourself up to new experiences, you send out vibrations that will attract new and better situations and people into your life.

Improving your health will help eliminate your fears and develop your self-esteem. When you stop overeating and eating junk food, you’ll not only lose weight, you’ll have more energy. Studies also show a healthy diet affects your mood, and if you feel better, you’ll make better choices and have a more productive life.

There are many delicious, natural foods that are beneficial to your physical and mental health. Research shows that eating salmon, walnuts and other foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and depression. Replacing the standard American diet with the Mediterranean diet can increase focus and even reduce the symptoms of ADHD. And blueberries, dark chocolate, ginger and turmeric are just a few of the foods that have disease-fighting antioxidants

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