For the majority of my teen years, I have been idle.
School, home, work, repeat, with the occasional “adventure” here and there. Although I’ll admit I was comfortable with that; it wasn’t until recently that I realized that where there is comfort, it is hard to find growth.
We should probably get this out of the way first: it is not easy leaving your comfort zone, and never will be. The comfort zone has one purpose: to offer mediocrity and simplicity. The magic doesn’t happen there. It happens in the growth zone, which is where discomfort is, but also your aspirations...and sometimes failure.
Without ever saying it out loud, I challenged myself. Once I turned 16 I decided to start taking ownership of my life while creating one that I love. Sounds simple, right? Not necessarily. Here are some things that I’ve learned along the way that may assist you in leaping head-first into risk, fun, and growth.
1. Stay Organized. Keeping your busy life in order is key to success. So, I suggest having something you can use everyday to help you remember your short/long term goals, like a planner. You can personalize it and track your progress. It helps to look at your goals on a daily basis to keep you motivated and to remember small tasks that will eventually lead to an accomplishment.
2. Vision boards are your new best friend. If you’re the type of person that loves seeing their goals or just loves aesthetically-pleasing collages, a vision board is for you. All you need is a bulletin board, pictures/words from magazines or the internet, scissors, and a good attitude. Anything that represents your goals should be used in order to spark motivation or inspiration. Consider all of the major aspects of your life and where you want to go with them: relationships, education, career, health, financial situation, etc. This board is yours, so make sure that whenever you look at it, you’re reminded to step out of your comfort zone in order to achieve those goals.
3. Adventure, Adventure, Adventure. Growth and adventure go hand-in-hand. If possible, definitely take any opportunity to see another side of the world, or even just your city. Surrounding yourself with new people and places will teach you an infinite amount of wisdom and trust for yourself. Travel is my number one passion, and not surprisingly, the year I grew the most was also the year of the most travelling I’ve ever done in my life, so far.
4. Hold yourself accountable. It’s okay to have times where you happily relax in your comfort zone, but if you find yourself going long periods of time without any challenge in your life, something just isn’t right. You must remember that although you might go through some obstacles, everything that will make you feel truly accomplished is nowhere near your comfort zone. So, when you are stuck in a rut, write down what drains your motivation. Certain friends? Unrealistic images from the media? There are so many ways to get off track from your original path, but there are a million more ways to keep going, so cut loose those bad influences and surround yourself with inspiration to help you be the best you can be.
5. Never apologize. For some odd reason, teenagers often think that being invested in their own life isn’t cool, or that their goals aren’t important, just because they might be on a smaller (or larger) scale than others’ goals. Whether a successful trip outside the comfort zone is talking to that cute boy in class, volunteering abroad, public speaking or starting a new sport, your progress is valid. Any and every ounce of growth that you gain through leaping into the unknown is definitely a success, so never downplay those moments of bravery for the sake of fitting in with the crowd.