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- British model, actress and singer
We're none of us getting any younger – and as we get a little older and more tired, it's easy to slip into a cosy comfort zone.
Work, tea, telly and bed – perhaps a bit of shopping at the weekend – becomes our world, and fun things we would have tried without thinking twice in our 20s and 30s suddenly look like alarming and risky behaviour.
Travel, new hobbies, physical exercise, forming friendships all start to look like hard work, so we stick with the tried and tested. But while it's certainly safe and comfortable, is it also, perhaps, just a tiny bit boring?
Dame Twiggy Lawson certainly thinks so. The Sixties supermodel, now a very glamorous septuagenarian, has said it's important to step out of your comfort zone – but adds that you have to be “brave enough” to do so.
The model, (real name Lesley Lawson), spoke to January's Good Housekeeping magazine about pushing herself to take on new ventures throughout her career that she initially found “terrifying”.
The 72-year-old household name has explored many avenues, from modelling to acting, fashion designing to launching her own podcast, Tea With Twiggy, in 2020.
Discussing exploring new areas and stepping out of her comfort zone, Dame Twiggy said: “I think it’s good for us all to do that. You’ve just got to be brave enough to do it!
“I remember when I got asked to do my first Broadway show, My One And Only, the director Tommy Tune rang me up and I said, ‘No, I can’t do that!’
“The thought of going out in front of an audience of 1,500 people was terrifying. But Tommy said, ‘There’s no such word as can’t, pack your bag and get out to New York’, and I did.”
Despite her success, she admitted having moments of insecurity like “everybody on the planet does” but felt she was quite a resilient person.
"I don’t think that’s just me. I think as a woman, we’re all stronger than we know because we have to be.
“I’ve got two older sisters, who have been through some terrible things and they’re incredibly resilient too.”
Leaving your comfort zone doesn't have to mean the bucket-list cliches of bungee jumping, or trekking solo down the Amazon. It can be as simple as trying a different dish, going for coffee with a new friend, or speaking up about something you care about.
Watch: Record-breaking grandfather who rowed Atlantic encourages elderly to 'find a challenge'.
All of this is safe, fun and exhilarating – so why do we settle into unchallenging comfort in the first place?
"By the time they reach their '60s or '70s, many people appear to have become more ‘set in their ways’, accustomed to routine," explains productivity coach Juliet Landau-Pope. "The longer we practice an activity, the more entrenched the habit becomes.
"It’s often about how we perceive ourselves, the labels we attach to our behaviour and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. So if you’ve lived in a certain place for decades or mixed with a particular social circle, perhaps you’ve been on holiday to the same place or celebrated holidays in particular ways – the more you do it, the harder it is to change."
We resist challenge and change, she goes on, because, "it’s easier to stick to the familiar. Inertia is a powerful force!
"But other factors may inhibit older people: they may feel restricted due to health or disability, or concerned about finances.. And if they have retired from work, they may have opted for less challenging routines.
Read more: How To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
"Peer pressure can also be a factor, worrying about what other people, including family members, will think. They may be limited by stereotypical expectations, assumptions of what people their age should or shouldn’t be doing. At any age or stage of life, however, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, to stick to what we know and like rather than to seek out new experiences."
Watch: Step out of your comfort zone with Conscious Living
To climb out of the rut can be scary, she adds. "I recommend to clients that they start by defining what really matters to them, not everyone else. When you’re clear about what you want to achieve, it’s easier to then plan and prioritise."
"If you’ve always dressed the same way, experiment with wearing one new item – a brightly coloured scarf or a new style of hat - rather than transforming your whole wardrobe.
"Small shifts can make a huge difference and they help to build your confidence."
Research shows that learning new skills boost happiness and wellbeing. "Any new experience offers opportunities to learn, not just about the activity but also about yourself," says Landau-Pope.
"Visiting new places, meeting new people, trying a new hobby – they open up new ways of looking at the world and exploring new perspectives."
There are always reasons to stay safe, agrees wellbeing therapist Leanne Cooper.
"I spent 1years doing a stressful corporate job that I did not enjoy," she admits. "I told myself I stayed put because the money was good, because the hours worked around my kids, because of the security of working for a big company…but the truth is, the reason I stuck it out was fear."
Cooper now coaches others to break out of their own comfort zones - and urges us to take the plunge.
How to leave your comfort zone;
1 Don’t wait until you feel ready – you'll be waiting forever.
2 Don’t be scared of failing – you will learn from the times when things don’t go the way you intended and can use that learning to help you move forwards.
3 Manage your internal dialogue – the way you speak to yourself matters, you need to believe in yourself.
4 Be honest with yourself – are you really too busy to do the thing, or are you just not making it a priority/putting it off because you’re scared?
5 Keep yourself accountable – if you decide to do something, make sure you tell someone your intention, so you can’t back out of it!
Additional reporting, PA Media