“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracey
In a previous article, I shared about how my experience on TED required me to step outside my comfort zone, and why this was so important for me (I had been struggling with it for some time..). If you haven’t yet, you can read my story here – it provides some interesting facts about how there’s a ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to stepping outside your comfort zone – go too far out and you’ll freak… but if you find that happy place between the ‘freak spot’ and the comfort spot, you’re in the ideal place for growth.
So, now that you understand why stepping outside your comfort zone is a good thing (either because you read my previous article, or maybe you just intuitively know it is..), do you know how you can get better at it? They say practice makes perfect, but does that apply to stepping outside our comfort zone?
Yes, it absolutely does!
Like anything, the more you do it, the easier it’ll become.
Five simple suggestions for escaping your comfort zone
“We have a normal. As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” – Robert S. Sharma
Here are five simple suggestions that you can implement daily to help you escape your comfort zone and create your ‘new normal’.
- Take baby steps. Don’t try to do too much, too quickly. Allow yourself time. Breaking your goal down into small, achievable daily steps is the easiest way to achieve those huge successes. For example, if you want to tackle a fear of public speaking, don’t jump right in to speaking at an industry event – you may end up traumatised! Just kidding… it won’t be that bad. Instead, start small by signing up for public speaking classes, and start by speaking up in smaller meetings.
- Do small things that scare you. In best-selling author and business coach Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week, he suggests that you should try to fill your day with lots of ‘comfort challenge’ activities that challenge you to do something different. Maybe you could try to negotiate for your coffee at your local café (but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work). Put your hand up to take on a task you’ve never done before. Hug a random stranger (although best not in the workplace as this could likely be classed as harassment). By developing a habit of becoming familiar with discomfort you’ll soon realise that it’s not all that hard to do.
- Turn every experience into a lesson. When we adopt a growth mindset (you can watch psychologist Carol Dweck’s TED Talk on the subject here), we can start to see every challenging experience as an opportunity for growth. We can ask ourselves, “What am I learning about me? About others? About the situation? How can I use this in my personal and professional life?”
- Become your own personal coach. Patrick Jinks from The Forbes Coaches Council suggest that you can elevate your thinking by coaching yourself. Here you ask yourself questions like, “What is the worst that could happen? What is holding me back? How can I make this a better experience?” This will help you re-engage your pre-frontal cortex, which basically means you’ll be able to calm yourself and be better prepared before you step outside your comfort zone.
- Don’t go at it alone. One of the best things you can do is to enlist the support of a friend, colleague or mentor on our journey. When trying something new, you’ll have another perspective, and this collaboration will give you a shoulder to lean on while also learning new tips and tricks on how to take on the risk. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. When I first started planning my piece for TED (again, refer to previous article), I knew that I wanted to do something, so enlisted the help of choreographer Aric Yegudkin, and surrounded myself with coaches and mentors. I couldn’t have done it without their input and support.
So there you have it. Not as difficult as you thought, is it?
Have a go at implementing some of the above or explore other ways to expand your zone of comfort and you may just be surprised by how much you can achieve!