Humans love being comfortable. We glom to routine and opt for what we know.  And who can blame us? There is value in predictability. Routines enable us to develop good, healthy habits. Familiarity helps us feel safe.

But staying in the same place is also a way of getting stuck. And getting stuck is a sure-fire way to miss out. Exposing yourself to the unfamiliar can feel scary, but it’s one of the few ways to experience what life has to offer. Here are a few considerations for how to leave your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the world around you.

 When’s the Last Time You Tried Something for the First Time?

When we stop challenging ourselves and stop taking risks, we stop growing and learning. It’s similar to when you stop exercising: your muscles weaken and your body gets a little out of shape. Just like you might ask yourself when you last got your heart pumping, ask yourself when you last did something for the first time. Push yourself to do a new and surprising activity every once and a while. When you do, you’re exercising your risk-taking muscles. By leaving your comfort zone even just a little, you ironically become more comfortable with the unfamiliar. You practice at making change for yourself. The more you practice, the less daunting change becomes.

Stay Curious, Explore

Familiarity can blind us to new opportunities and new ways of thinking. When we stay in the same place, we lose sight of what we could be missing. So go out and explore! This doesn’t have to mean traveling the globe. It simply translates to looking for what you normally don’t see. There are places and possibilities out there that you don’t even know about yet, and it’s because you haven’t searched for them. Check your blind spots. Challenge yourself to find something you didn’t know existed. You won’t regret having broadened your horizons. If you don’t like what you find, no biggie. Then you’ll know what isn’t for you. Everything you encounter is useful information about the world and yourself.

Start Small, Start Local

It’s easy to make excuses for why we shouldn’t get out and explore. We’re tired and we’re busy. But the world awaits and it’s not as big or scary as you might think! You can make a crazy change if you want, or you can start small. If a big trip or new career move isn’t in the cards, start with your own locale. Explore a new neighborhood or sign up for a class. Learn a new subject or approach someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. Meaningful change doesn’t have to come in a giant, colorful package. You might discover that your greatest passion or your closest friend lies right around the corner.

Getting outside of your comfort zone doesn’t have to involve ginormous leaps and bounds (unless you want it to). You can inch your way little by little and take bigger steps as you go. Start now. Learn, listen, discover. Take a risk and don’t knock something until you try it. Life overflows with potential. It’s up to you to find it.