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Good for you. So many people don’t focus on personal improvement. The fact that you’re here should make you proud. Go on…pat yourself on the back.

This post is written to compliment my previous post on becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable (though reading it is not necessary). A problem I have with some personal development books is that after reading a book I am inspired but struggle with the next steps. I fully get the thesis of the book, I agree with it, but don’t know the real-life actions I should take to implement. I fear that is what some people may feel after my previous post, where I attempted to explain that escaping your comfort zone can lead to extreme life-improving effects. So how do you escape your comfort zone? In other words, how do you escape fear?

My first answer is sorry, you cant eliminate fear. However you ABSOLUTELY CAN eliminate fear for things that do not have REAL consequences. When I say REAL consequences i mean loss of life, loss of employment, loss of possessions including money, and loss of anything else of value. The actions I will talk about in this post will not cause any of these REAL consequences.

The only way to overcome fear and shatter your comfort zone is to take action, period. Once you start taking action you will find out that the things you are fearful of are not that scary. Constantly ask yourself “what is the realistic worst case scenario if I do this?” First you will realize your worst case scenario isn’t as bad as the associated feeling you have. Secondly, once you compare your actual outcomes to your worst case scenario you will laugh at your crazy pessimistic mind.

The following are the best ways that I’ve found to feel more comfortable with the typically uncomfortable. Pick one, two or three of these actions and perform them at least once a week. Treat this like a game or experiment- take “yourself” out of the equation. You’re just seeing if Eric is lying or not- feel free to explain this initiative to people :).

Toastmasters– Toastmasters is an international club that helps people with public speaking. There are clubs everywhere and there is most likely one in your town or nearby town. I’ve been a member of this group for years and it is great. Everyone is very supportive and there are many people that are nervous just like you. They have weekly meetings and are extremely supportive- try it out.

Meetup.com – Meetup.com is an online portal for people to connect by doing the things they love together. Go on the website and look around or type in any interest of yours. It is very likely that there are upcoming meetups scheduled that are focused on your interests. The good thing is that most attendees will be in the same position you are. RSVP for an event and show up. Once you’re there just start a conversation with someone- it will flourish.

Coed Sports – did you know grown adults play kickball? How about dodgeball? Yessir- this stuff is happening everywhere. There are coed leagues where random people show up, get put on a team, and have a blast playing low pressure sports. Check out zogg sports or type “coed sports (your town)” in google. You will meet a ton of people doing this!

Challenge the norm-  This is more mental. There are two types of people in this world. People that are worried about what people think of them and how they act and there are people that do not care. Become the latter. With every social interaction think of this and evaluate where you stand. Test the boundaries by saying something “inappropriate” or something you normally wouldn’t bring up. The surprise is that most people will flock to the new, more daring you.

The random talker . Make it a point to talk with everyone you come in contact with while on the train, in a meeting, walking home, in the store, OR ANYWHERE. While I wrote this post I spoke to a Brazilian girl on my commute home.  Try to get to a point where you would feel comfortable starting a conversation with anyone, anywhere.

Some Conversation Tips – When approaching someone new to talk to, your mind will come up with a number of reasons why you shouldn’t talk to them. Some excuses include: what is the best thing to say, what if they don’t want to talk to someone, or wouldn’t it be weird if I approached them now? Understand that these are all excuses, not realities. Through everyone’s typical daily grind it is refreshing to speak to someone new. I honestly can’t even think of a time someone has been offended by my conversation starting or it not going well. You don’t need to say the perfect thing. Find something externally in common with the other person to start- weather, place you both are, you both have shoes, etc. Seriously, I can start a conversation with anyone with shoes- those are nice shoes, where did you get them? Most important thing is to start the conversation!

These are just a few of the tactics I have implemented to shatter my comfort zone. I’d love to hear feedback and progress if you are currently using or have tried any of the above tactics.

Have some fun with it and I wish you all the best!