Stepping outside of your comfort zone

Alarm set for 6:30am, head to the gym for a quick workout before work, grab a coffee from your favourite café on the way to work, check emails, meet with a few clients, check in with the team, write reports, catch the 5:45pm bus home, cook dinner at 6:30pm, watch an episode or two of your favourite TV show and head to bed at 10pm. Tomorrow arrives and you’re ready to do the same thing all over again. Does it sound familiar? You’re not alone, it’s easy to fall into a routine.

But it’s time to change your routine – as of tomorrow. In fact, you need to stop calling it a routine and think of it as life. Life is full of speed bumps and roadblocks, no right turns and give way signs and the same can be said for your career. Nothing is secure and you need to be agile for any changes thrown your way. How can you practice being ready for change? You practice testing yourself. You practice getting outside your comfort zone.

One of the most damaging things you can do for in your career is to stay at a company for years where you are comfortable. When you’re comfortable, you begin to doubt your value in the marketplace and you begin to wonder if you can succeed and thrive outside your current job. WHY? Because when you get comfortable and you’re going through the motions, you become less challenged. When you’re less challenged, you forget about your true capabilities.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be difficult at times, however, it can also liberate and empower you. Breaking your own mould can only make you stronger and more confident to reach higher levels in your professional and personal life. Let’s look at how you can you push yourself outside your comfort zone to achieve bigger and better things.

Take small steps

Stepping outside of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your entire routine. If you try to overhaul everything in your life, you will find that going outside your comfort zone is an overwhelming experience. Change shouldn’t be overwhelming. Just like a lifestyle change, it’s about starting small. You don’t swear off all junk foods and sweets for life and throw yourself into a grueling workout regime when you decide on a lifestyle overhaul. If you do, then chances are the lifestyle change will be a short term thing. Instead, try taking small steps, for example, a different route to work or moving your desk to a different location. These small changes can help you to get comfortable with the discomfort of trying something new. And as the saying goes, small changes can make a big difference.

Practice makes perfect

In order to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you need to step outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis. Practice being uncomfortable. The best way to keep practicing is to set yourself a new discomfort goal every week. For example, initiating conversation with a stranger on the bus, trying a new café or walking a new route to work. The more comfortable you get with trying new things, the less you’re going to avoid it and the more you’re going to say yes to new challenges.

Reinterpret your fear

In order to overcome your fear of trying something new, try re-framing those feelings of fear as feelings of excitement and opportunity. When viewed in a positive light, those butterflies in your stomach will soon be seen as welcoming rather than something that you seek to avoid. You’ll be amazed at the power of positive thinking!

State your mission

Having a mission statement that describes why you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone can help you overcome the fear of doing it. Lombardo recommends writing out the benefits of doing the activity, such as “to build courage” or “to become more creative.” Looking at the why when you start stressing out can really help to bring down your stress levels and make it easier to accomplish the task. It’s a great idea to make an inspiration board of your weekly discomfort goals (as mentioned above) and noting the reason why against each activity.

How will you step outside your comfort zone?

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