My aim for this blog is not to make you hate your comfort zone, and to escape from it, screaming with your arms above your head as though it has just caught fire.
Instead, I want to make all that exists beyond it much less anxiety-inducing and daunting.
Whilst a comfort zone is a psychological concept, it has very real walls around it. They are constructed with fear.
So, what can we do to break them down?
If your answer to that question is to make things outside it less fearful, then pat yourself on the back and put your smug face on. You got it right!
It is not quite that simple though. Otherwise, this would be auf wiedersehen, ciao, au revoir… end of blog post.
Importantly though, this is a million miles from impossible. So let’s take a look through things that you can do to ensure you regularly venture out of your comfort zone, and develop comfort in feeling uncomfortable.
Ask Yourself Why
Here is a 2 for 1 for you. I usually talk about the importance of knowing your why and thinking outcomes on this blog. However, I got a ‘why appetizer’ to serve you first before we get to the main.
This first why is so important in adding some well needed logic to your feelings of discomfort towards that thing you want to achieve.
That why is…
Why am I fearful of this?
This exists outside of your comfort zone for a reason, so now is the time to dig deep and find what those reasons are.
Is it an insecurity? Is it an emotional scar from a previous experience?
Understanding and addressing these feelings of fear is crucial to forming the routes on your map to your desired destination.
Now to the other why.
Why on earth would you be motivated to achieve something that feels awkward, if you have no idea why you are doing it in the first place?
It can be so simple to fall at the first feeling of discomfort because you have nothing pumping adrenaline-filled excitement through your veins to drive you through it.
You may think to yourself… Why am I putting myself through this?
However, this is the reality…
If you are fully sold on what you are wanting to achieve, and you truly know what it can add to your life… why would you not pay the price of some short-term discomfort?
Of course, feeling comfortable is reassuring, especially in a world that spins around us without our control. However, it pales in insignificance when compared to the sense of triumph, pride, and empowerment that courses through you when you open yourself up to new experiences that you may have even have thought were beyond you.
Don’t ‘dive’ too deep!
The aim of the why questions above are to make it easier for you to leave your comfort zone. We do however need to be vigilant that we don’t retreat back.
Now is the time to insert a metaphor.
You are desperate to learn how to swim, but you have a huge fear of drowning. This fear is in fact so profound, that is actually makes you feel uneasy about being close to open water.
You have two options to how you can approach overcoming this:
- Head over to the deep end and take a dive, headfirst into your fear, submerging yourself in it and accepting that whatever happens next is going to happen.
- Plan some steps to prepare yourself to progress gradually. Starting with a buoyancy aid and learning how to float, then using that knowledge and confidence to master techniques needed to excel on your own.
If you said option one, then you are definitely the type of person that does not separate the lights and darks when you do your laundry, and do not prioritise putting your handbrake on in your car when you stop on a hill.
This approach could work; however, it is also risking making your fear worse than it previously was. Reaffirming that you were indeed right to not leave your comfort zone and pursue it.
Taking small steps is a great way to build yourself up to achieve your ultimate goal. Using all the supports (buoyancy aids) you need before having the skills to go it alone.
I set more than two alarms every morning to make sure I do not oversleep, so I am a huge fan of option 2.
Don’t Give Me Excuses
Any fans of the film Madagascar will know that a famous cartoon penguin once said, “Don’t give me excuses, give me results.”
We all need to find the wise penguin within us and demand the same!
Identify when you are making excuses to pick the safe and easy option, and tell yourself… how is this going to help me get the results I need?
To head back to the idea of having a map to take you outside your comfort zone.
If you are constantly making excuses, there is no need for a map.
You will always be taking the same route to the same destination.
Discomfort – The feeling worth feeling.
The Earth contains stuff that we are all told to avoid.
– Eating unhealthy food regularly.
– Not looking both ways when crossing the road.
– Hungry sharks.
It is surprising how many people though would add things such as discomfort and failure onto that list too.
We need to change our relationship with these.
First off, failure. Failure is an often harsh sounding siren that tells you that it is time to learn. It alerts you to take the lessons from this experience and use them to continue moving forwards.
This fear of failure and viewing it as an end rather than a beginning is what stops many from even accepting any potential to feel uncomfortable in venturing outside of comfort zones.
What if it all goes wrong?
Second, discomfort. It is a by-product of learning and growth. Some of the greatest and most unforgettable lessons you have ever had or will have in your life will come from feeling out-of-control and out of your depth.
Seek it, acknowledge it, and find comfort in knowing that it is benefitting you.
Surround Yourself With Go-Getters
A blog ago, I wrote about the importance about spending your time with people who radiate positive energy to help combat negative thinking.
Well, guess what it is also great for?
That’s right! We are influenced by the people around us… which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your circles.
Therefore, if you are surrounded by people who are open towards new opportunities, then that will show you closely the true benefits of having a ‘can do’ attitude instead of one which shies away from anything unknown.
This tip genuinely contains so much power.
Be Curious About The Learning Process
Be as curious as George.
Acknowledge all the things that happen when you do something new, and how different you feel afterwards.
What did you learn about it? What did you learn about yourself?
The process of your mindset evolving is truly fascinating. As you become exposed to more and more, your perspective and knowledge widens.
Previous misconceptions and mishaps become humorous anecdotes and your journey of growth will become something which will inspire you on to more.
Even if something does not work out positively outside your comfort zone, find intrigue, and not fear, in what happened and look at another way to try again.
We all had to begin somewhere.
In order for things to become increasingly easier and normal to us we have to be doing them regularly, and continuously build familiarity.
Therefore, I want to conclude this blog by reaffirming your need to be persistent and to believe in your abilities.
It may be excruciatingly difficult to do something beyond what you know, however, know that whatever happens, amazingly good or hideously bad, will be key to your growth.
It truly is a win-win.
Alex & The Excel Team
P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your learning & development challenges for 2021, call us on +44(0) 1628488 854.
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