The only way to improve your life is by trying new things – get out of your comfort zone and find out what truly makes you happy
Alright, so there you are: stuck in that endless loop of life.
Which is insane, right? You’re trying to get out of that slump. Out of that feeling of having every single day repeat itself.
The emotional roller coaster that you’ve been in these past weeks or months seems to be never-ending. You seem to have a lifetime ticket to that emotional roller coaster and can’t seem to figure out how to get out of it.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of. See, we all get stuck in these loops every now and then.
Here’s the key though: instead of being in a constant loop, you need to get into a routine.
Here’s one of my favourite quotes:
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”
― W. H. Auden
It’s one of my favourite quotes because I believe it’s true. Now, I’m not here writing this because I believe I’m so truly intelligent and I’m the smartest kid around. (Because mostly during the day I try to be in a situation where I’m not the smartest person around anyway – it keeps you humble, feeds your curiosity and helps you improve in life).
But there’s something different happening in your life: that loop. That endless loop of feeling great the one day and feeling terrible the next day.
And it’s an obstacle in your life. It’s, on the bad days, the sole reason you are not getting the things done that you should get done.
Again, I’ve been there. The loop just didn’t seem to end. It’s something that sticks for way too long, it’s something that is holding you back from becoming the person that you believe you should be: your best version.
Which leads to the question: how the hell do you get out of it? How do you finally get that roller coaster to stop moving up and down constantly and start moving up for a while?
The number one rule in life: experience new things
Let’s be real: it’s actually pretty nice, right, to just do the same things day in, day out?
It lets you be in your safe little comfort zone and you don’t have to experience anything that would possibly make you feel bad.
Why would you not watch Netflix for hours, instead of going out and talking to a bunch of women/men and potentially get rejected? Or apply for that one job you’d love but instead just sit around at that deadend job you’ve not been enjoying for a lot time, just because you might get rejected?
Rejection sounds awful, painful, something that has a bad vibe to it in any way, shape or form.
But let me tell you: rejection and failing are the only way to ever move forward. To be able to improve yourself in a way that you have never improved yourself before.
Because while you are laying on your bed, watching episode number 9 of that show you enjoy so much while feeling extremely bad about yourself for nothing doing anything worthwhile, here’s the one question you should ask yourself: “Am I truly doing the thing that I believe I should be doing?”
If the answer is yes: keep doing it, that’s your choice. If the answer is no, though, it means your subconscious is telling you something: that there’s more to life than what you are experiencing now.
Most people don’t realize this: the fact that you are unhappy usually comes from the fact that you are not putting yourself into satisfactory situations that allow you to grow. Now, I’m not saying that’s the answer for everyone (chronic depression is one of the exceptions here). But for most people that currently are feeling down, who have that feeling that there’s more for them in this world, for those people I believe there is a very easy solution.
Because experiencing new things is the only way to experience new emotions. Emotions? Yes, emotions. See, most people believe that when they get out of their comfort zone, that they will terrible – Forever!
I’ll tell you a little secret: life truly starts at the end of your comfort zone. Living in your comfort zone for the rest of your life is just a recipe for yourself to never improve and to never build the discipline that is needed to get ahead in life.
Now, maybe you don’t believe me. And why would you? After all, I’m just some random kid on the internet giving you information on habits and tools that will help you improve that worked for him. And the thought “Yeah, man, this all sounds cool and all, but that’ll never work for me” is most likely printed in your head right now.
But let me just give you two metaphors, that will help you understand this concept. I’ll use two examples: one of the biggest companies around: Uber, and one of the most famous people in this entire world: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
How Uber shows you to get out of your comfort zone
So, there he was, right? Travis, the founder of Uber, realized that his app was something that could help people find rides to their destinations, without ever needing to stop a taxi and all that unnecessary stuff we used to do in the old days. He needed to get this thing to go as big as it possibly could, there was so much potential.
Let’s look at your comfort zone for a second, imagine if it was Uber back when it started. It was just a small app designed to help people in San Fransisco to go from one place to another. Now, that’s your comfort zone – the fact that Uber was just an app that was only used in SanFran.
Now, imagine if that’s the end of the story. Imagine if they never went beyond SanFran. Imagine if they didn’t take that first step, to also launch in it New York City. Then Uber wouldn’t be the company it was back in 2011, but it wouldn’t have been the company that it is today either.
Look at your comfort zone like a business: you can do two things with your business. 1) Either stay where you are, running a local business, doing the same thing day in, day out, never expanding beyond the office or city that you are running it in. Or 2) As soon as you’ve established yourself in that comfort zone, look for ways to get out of it and to expand it in different areas.
Now you might be thinking: “yeah, dude, Uber got billions in funding, they’re not like me. I’m not like them”. But let’s be real: Uber wasn’t an overnight success. They launched in July 2010, and it wasn’t until almost 10 months later that they decided to go try it in a new city. Sure, they received $11 million in funding 3 months before they expanded, but it wasn’t like they magically had that happen to them – they worked hard to get there – they worked hard to get out of their comfort zone to talk to investors, to pitch their product, to realize its potential, to see where they could possibly be in 1, 2, 5 or 10 years from now.
Now, almost 8 years later, they are one of the highest valued startups (using that term loosely here) and are active in over 600 cities worldwide. Just because they took a step to get out of SanFran, to just launch it in NYC first, and then to see what else they could do.
They got out of their region (their comfort zone) and experimented in different areas in order to improve their company. And that’s exactly how your comfort zone works as well.
You’re never going to be able to improve yourself if you will always stay in that comfort zone that you are currently in right now.
How Arnold Schwarzenegger will get you out of your comfort zone
Alright, so I am assuming you know who Arnold is. If not: he’s that muscular dude from the Terminator, the guy who was an Olympian many times, The Guvanator, one of the most inspiring people in the world.
I’m not going to tell you the story about how he was just a small kid in an Austrian town, where his parents didn’t want him to become a bodybuilder but did it anyway. Because you can listen to his story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TEc_qyKQ0c (highly recommend watching it though).
No, what I’m going to talk about is the guy’s muscles. Or just any muscle.
Look at your comfort zone like it is a muscle. A single thing that you often use for a short period of time while training. If you work out every now and then – or often – then you know that training your muscles is a great way to get yourself more disciplined and motivated in life.
Now let’s look how working on a muscle works: if you just keep doing the same routine, every single time, with the same weights, you cannot expect your muscle to grow in any way. It will grow a little bit, but it won’t grow much. If Arnold would just get the same weights at the gym, he would never be as big as he is today.
Yeah, he took some supplements (and by some I mean a lot), but growing yourself will require some supplements as well. Maybe not steroids, but even coffee is a supplement, or meditation, or getting enough rest – these are all supplements that allow you to grow as a person.
Look at your comfort zone like it’s a muscle: in order to make it grow, you need to experience new things (weights) and need to improve those things (weights). By getting larger weights, you allow your muscle to grow. By experiencing new things, you allow your comfort zone to grow as well.
Beyond the metaphor: how to get out of your comfort zone
Now that you have a decent view of knowing how your comfort zone works, it is important to realize that it’s actually very easy to get out of your comfort zone. You know what makes a good salesperson? The best people in sales aren’t just born like that, they allowed themselves to grind their teeth on the pavement for months, even years, in order to realize what does work and what doesn’t work.
That’s a little thing called failure: something that most people will never want to experience because it hurts like a bitch to fail, right? And it does, it’s pretty painful to get rejected. Whether it’s your dream job, getting the phone number of that hot chick that you met at the bar or shamefully hearing that no from a client you thought you’d close today.
But in every failure, there’s something incredible: the opportunity to analyze it, learn from what you did wrong and to avoid that mistake the next time. Life isn’t easy, and it won’t get easier when you are never willing to get out of your comfort zone. There’s not much to be grateful for if you never experience new things, if you never create new habits in your life – if you never find a way to improve yourself.
There’s no gratitude in always staying the same, especially not in this world. The people that outperform others, that get to the top in the field that they are in, the ones that are crazy enough to think it might actually work (sup, Steve Jobs), those are the ones that will actually truly change the environment they are in – those are the ones that might just actually change the world.
And that’s – if you take anything from this at all – the one thing that should be on your mind: never be afraid to fail. Yes, failure sucks, it’s fucking horrible – it will keep you up at night, like those embarrassing moments from high school that sometimes come up in your head and make your whole body shiver.
But there’s little to respect yourself for if you do not get out of that comfort zone. There’s nothing to improve yourself on if you never get out of it. There’s nothing else in life when you don’t find a way to push yourself, to find the right ways to get out of your comfort zone and work yourself up to a level that you are content with.
Failure is something you should be experiencing every single day. Because if you aren’t experiencing failure then you aren’t getting yourself into situations where failure is a potential option. It means you are always picking the safe option. The option that will never get you to be embarrassed in any way.
But again, every failure is an opportunity for yourself to improve, to grow into the best version of yourself. The best chess players in the world aren’t the ones that have never lost a game – because those are the ones that won’t make it to the top. The best players are the ones that kept playing even though they just had a terrible defeat, the ones that kept playing after losing game after game. Because every game they lose is a new strategy for them to analyze, a new way for them to learn what they can do better next time in order to avoid getting caught in that strategy.
Fail, fail, fail, and then fail some more
Stop looking at failure like it’s an ugly word – like it’s something that should be avoided in life. Life is full of situations where you can fail, but the trick is to never look at yourself like you are a failure. Those are two entirely different things.
Every failure you encounter in life is something wonderful. Sure, it takes a while to see how you can be grateful for it, but in the end, it is always worth it to fail. Because when you see failure as a potential option that is actually beneficial for you, you will no longer have a problem with failure.
You might just feel terrible for a few hours after failing. That’s natural, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even the most successful people in life, the ones we see as legends, fail every now and then – and even they feel terrible because of it. But the trick is to find a way for yourself to not look at that failure for days, weeks or even months. Instead, look at it, learn from it.
And that’s one of the biggest principles that you should have in your life if you truly want to be disciplined in life. If you truly want to get somewhere in your life, to use your talents for something that is bigger than yourself, it means you need to get out of that comfort zone. It means you need to be content with failing every now and then.
Experiencing new things allows you to fail
That’s why it is so important to experience new things. They allow you to fail. Do you want to pick up the guitar? Odds are the first few days every note you play is going to sound horrible. Because you have no idea what you are doing and how to actually play it.
But after a few days, that popular C, Am, G, F progression is going to be a lot easier. You pick up those chords one by one, making sure your fingers touch the right chords at the right bar. You learn to progress between them. And then, after a few days, you’re playing every single Pop song that was ever recorded, on your guitar.
But you won’t get there if you just keep doing the things you are always doing. If you stay in that comfort zone and always repeat the same things you have been doing all these weeks, months or years.
Failing is something beautiful and you will only experience it if you try out new things. It’s the one thing that will keep you going during a life in which you want to reach whatever it truly is you want to reach.
Push yourself, beyond the boundaries that your mind is making up. Do it, don’t even think about it. You know that feeling, right? There’s this hot girl, standing there at the bar. You think about approaching her, but the longer you hesitate, the more doubts you will make up in your mind and the more reasons you will make up in order to not actually do it. And then, after 5 seconds, you won’t actually do it. But if you just ignored that, if you just do it as soon as you think about it, that’s how you get out of your comfort zone.
Because your brain is telling you that it wants you to get out of that comfort zone. That brain of yours is telling you to talk to that girl, to apply for that job, to go to the gym today. But every single second you take to not do it or to not prepare for it is a second in which you allow yourself to make up stupid reasons on why you shouldn’t do it. “Nah, she won’t like me”, “Nah, they’ll find a better person for that job” or “Nah, I’ll go to the gym tomorrow”. These are all terrible reasons that the voice in your head is telling you, but there was already a voice before that telling you that you should do it – start ignoring that voice, it’s not making you a better person. In fact, it’s the sole thing that is stopping you from being a better person!
Here’s how you go from a loop to a routine
Alright, so now that you at least know how to get yourself out of that endless loop of life, the loop that is doing you no good, it is time to figure out how to get yourself into a routine.
You may think “But I do have my routine”, but if the things you are doing every single day constantly repeat itself and they aren’t making you better, then you’re not in a routine, you’re in a loop with a small chance for a positive ending.
Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results – this quote is by Albert Einstein/Mark Twain/Benjamin Franklin/Abraham Lincoln/Julius Caesar/Elon Musk/Stephen Hawking [reality is, nobody knows who actually said this, so let’s just thank humanity as a whole that this quote exists]
See, you will never be happy with your routine if it doesn’t actually make you happy. How can you expect it to make you happy later in life if it isn’t making you happy right now? Sure, keep doing it every single day, day after day, but soon enough you will realize that it’s not the way you truly want to live your life.
Instead, you need to build a routine for yourself that actually allows you to be happy with yourself. You need to do things in life that will make you a better person. Because by putting those new things into your routine, you will figure out what will make you happy and how it will make you happy. And you will be grateful to yourself for even setting the first steps because they will help you to step up in life, to improve from whatever position you are currently in.
I’ll outline my own routine here, and I’m not saying that it’s the core routine that you should set for your life as well. Odds are, it will be a lot different for you. But these things work for me, at least, and by trying them out yourself you can figure out whether they work for you as well.
Every morning after I wake up I get out of bed and write in the 5 Minute Journal. This is a small journal book that asks me 3 important questions in the morning:
– What am I grateful for? (3 answers)
– What would make today great? (3 answers)
– How do I feel about myself right now? (1 answer)
I write down the answers to these questions and grab my stuff to go take a shower. I first prepare a breakfast, of 4 eggs with some bacon and ham, along with a glass of milk. I cook it, eat it and then go off to the shower to take a quick cold shower (I hate this, but it’s good to push yourself to do things you hate within 20 minutes after waking up).
I then meditate for 10 minutes to calm my mind before I grab my laptop and gym bag and head off to the gym. On my way to the gym, I listen to the Tim Ferris Podcast. As I arrive at the gym I greet one of my friends that I work out with that day and we go do our exercises for 60-120 minutes. We spend 5-15 minutes in the sauna, I take another cold shower and we head out to grab some lunch.
With lunch in my stomach, I grab the subway to go to work while listening to the Tim Ferris Show again. After arriving at the office, I grab a cup of coffee and sit down to work for my clients or instruct others on what to do. I take a break every now and then and usually work for about 3-4 hours a day.
After finishing my 3-4 hours of work and instructing people what to do, I spend time on writing content for my blog or answering questions on Quora. I spend time assembling a newsletter I send out every week and just find the right ways to enjoy myself as much as I can.
By 5, I’ve finished all my work and worked on writing and it’s time to head out. I either have dinner with friends or my dad and head home after that to prepare for the next day, read 30 minutes or call some friends I haven’t seen in a while.
I finish my day by eating a late night snack like yoghurt, drink some camomile tea, take a sleep supplement and fall asleep before 11 PM.
This is my Monday through Friday schedule, and obviously, I have left some things out. But the main focus is on the things that truly help me to feel good about myself: the morning journal, the cold shower, meditation, going to the gym, working on personal things, seeing friends, reading, listening to the Tim Ferris podcast.
This routine works incredibly well for me. It allows me to be extremely focused while I am working on the things that need to be done. Because I do so much around the hours that I do work, I can get my work done way faster during the hours that I do work. In the past, I would work 70 hour weeks, today I work a lot less but get so much more done because I pack all the important things in a short amount of hours.
Again, I am not saying this is the routine that will work for you as well. Your boss might require you to work 8 hours a day (or at least be present 8 hours a day). You might not enjoy going to the gym. You might not enjoy writing. But that’s not the point. The point is that you can create a routine for yourself that allows you to be that way.
During the day, I also add things that allow me to fail. For example, at the office, I will make sales calls that might go extremely horribly. I might not actually sign them. But that’s alright because after failing a lot in that field, I know what it takes to not care and keep going to try and sign the next person I call.
The content I write doesn’t always score incredibly well online. Not every article I write is a life-changing article for people. Some people might leave some negative feedback on it. That sucks the first time but after that, you will realize it’s not actually that bad and just keep on going.
Own your routine, own your life
Alright, so I slightly stole this from Aubrey Marcus who wrote a book on “Own the day, own your life” outlining the fact that if you do the right things today that make you happy and grateful then you will live a happy and grateful life.
By following a satisfying routine for your life, you will find that it is easy to have a satisfying life. A life that’s full of discipline to get to the next stage, to reach the top, to get the things you want in life.
And in the end, that’s all that matters in life: that you can live a life that makes you happy, that allows you to be grateful to be alive every single day, in which your actions align with your inner values and that you truly become the person that you want yourself to be.