I have a confession to make. For the past couple of years, I’ve been cruising. I’ve been so far into my comfort zone it’s been like living life in a down and feather doona with a bowl of M&Ms in easy reach. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been working hard. It just means that I’ve been working hard only on projects and activities that I’ve been confident in achieving.
As a result of working hard, my career has progressed and my business has grown. While that’s great, it’s also part of the reason I’ve been content to roll around in my comfort zone – because there has been no imperative to get out of it. If life is generally moving in the right direction, it’s easy to be complacent.
However, I knew there was something inherently dissatisfying about what I was doing. I wasn’t stretching myself. And that meant I was limiting my opportunities for personal growth.
Your comfort zone is a great place to be. But it should be considered a place to drop into from time to time, not a default state of existence.
Getting out of your comfort zone
This year, I decided it was time to leave the land of doonas and M&Ms. I decided to take on projects which daunted me; to say “yes” to opportunities that I would never have previously considered and be far more open to new ideas. In short, to push myself out of my comfort zone.
And it was scary.
But I knew that I had just spent a couple of years working really hard on the same stuff. I didn’t want another 10 years to pass only to find myself in the exact same position. I may as well work hard on new, different – and occasionally terrifying – activities.
Because there is one thing that I’ve learnt this year: to feel the fear, and do it anyway. In fact, it’s become my mantra.
Stop making excuses
I met a woman recently who told me she knew that if she did more public speaking, it would grow her business. She confessed: “But that’s just not me. I don’t like speaking in front of big groups. I get really nervous.”
We all have different things that terrify us. For some, it might be public speaking. For others, it might be writing book, or asking for a pay rise, or trying to master a new skill.
However, that fact that you’re scared of it doesn’t mean you should use that as an excuse not to give it a go. I’ve also heard people say, “I don’t feel like I’m being authentic. I don’t enjoy doing that, so why should I do it?”
Oh pulleeeese. If you have that attitude, you will not only stay in your comfort zone, you will be so deep within it that you’ll be at risk of never emerging into the real world again.
Feel the fear – and do it anyway
I know that’s easy to say, but if there is one thing I’ve learnt in this last year, when you “do it anyway” you realise that it’s never as hard or scary as you once imagined. Never. And once you do it for the first time, you wonder why in the world you ever considered it daunting. You’re also rewarded with a sense of empowerment that is priceless.
The trouble is that so many of us can’t take that first step. We stay in our comfort zones. We work hard, but we don’t give ourselves the opportunities to grow that we truly deserve.
Whatever it is that’s currently scaring you, I encourage you to face it head on. You don’t have to do it alone. Get support, find a coach, take baby steps. But just do it. Feel the fear – and do it anyway.
I guarantee you will not regret it.