Taking risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way to grow. But taking that first step can be daunting.
In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. By getting over the fear of fear, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.
This article explores 10 ways to leave your comfort zone and find success.
1. Know what’s outside your comfort zone
What things to do you believe are worth pursuing but you say ‘no’ to yourself out of fear of failure?
Identify your comforts and write them inside a circle, then identify your discomforts and write them outside the circle. This exercise helps you to see the best places to start.
2. Set a clear vision of what you want to overcome
Take the aforementioned list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.
How does this fear apply to each situation? Be specific.
Are you afraid of speaking in front of large groups of people? Why? Because you’re scared of losing your train of thought? Because you’re insecure about your voice? Because you often give yourself too little time to prepare?
3. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to just expand it. Set a goal of not running away from discomfort.
Let’s stay with the theme of speaking in front of others. If you start feeling anxious when talking, try to present a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to feel more comfortable.
4. Learn from failures
“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer” – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.
Many of us are so afraid of failing that we would rather not try at all.
Start treating failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?
5. Take baby steps
Don’t try to leap outside your comfort zone, you may become quickly overwhelmed and fall back in.
Take small steps toward the fear you’re trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak in front of small groups.
6. Surround yourself with risk takers
You are the five people you surround yourself with most.
If you want to improve at something, you must start spending time with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. Almost inevitably, their influence will start to have an effect on your behaviour.
7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses
Don’t say “I just don’t have the time for this right now.” You can always make time, instead, be honest and say “I’m scared to do this.”
You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.
8. Identify how leaving your comfort zone will benefit you
What will the ability to speak to large groups do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.
9. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.
10. Focus on the fun
Enjoy the process and the fun of learning things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.