Sara Volk

"Think outside the box."

How many times do you think you've heard that phrase? A dozen? A hundred, maybe? Even more? Usually, it's said in reference to problem solving; think outside the box in order to come up with the best solution to whatever road bump has just gotten in the way.

But when there are no problems being faced, many people are quite content to stay in the box. The box is safe. The box is familiar. We can trust that we control everything inside the box. The box is our Comfort Zone.

Every once in a while, though, I think we should be encouraged not just to think outside the box -- but to take a sledge hammer to it.

If we don't break out of our Comfort Zones, then we'll never extend our boundaries and make our box a little bigger. It will remain small and cramped -- and sure, we may be comfortable if that's all we've ever known. But a bigger box with more experiences in it sounds far more interesting, wouldn't you say?

You can get outside your Comfort Zone by doing just about anything that breaks your routine. Try a new food; attempt an activity you've never done before or try a new hobby; try a new haircut instead of going for a "trim"; take a class or read a book on a subject you're unfamiliar with. The point is, if you want to expand your horizons, you need to try something that isn't "same old, same old".

What's something you've always thought about doing, but have always found an excuse to get out of? What can you learn today that you didn't know yesterday? What's a food you always said you hated, but never actually tried? Who are people in your community that you've never interacted with?

When you open yourself up to new experiences, opportunities to break out of the rut of "same old, same old" will present themselves in the form of a thousand different adventures; and I wholeheartedly encourage you to hoist your sledge hammer up and bring down the walls of your Comfort Zone.

Sara Volk is a Bismarck native and the current Special Sections editor at The Bismarck Tribune. When she isn't working to give her cat a better life, she dabbles in baking, sewing, and anything nerdy.