How to step out of your comfort zone
It is important to step out of your comfort zone for a successful career as well as a meaningful life. Yet how many of us do it? We always find ourselves in a dilemma every time we get an opportunity to step out of our comfort zone. It goes something like this.
John is a great singer and he knows it. His music teacher asked him to take part in the school’s talent show. It’s a great opportunity but there is a problem. Even the thought of singing on stage in front of thousands of people makes his throat dry and hands tremble. How the hell is he going to sing? How can he step out of his comfort zone?
This is a classic case of a real-life incident where you get an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. It’s scary, but it’s worth it. Why? Because all growth happens outside your comfort zone. But, how do you manage it? Here are 9 things that would help.
#1.Visualize yourself step out of your comfort zone
Visualizing is a fun way to get yourself ready for when you have to step out of your comfort zone. Your brain cannot tell the difference between something real and something you vividly imagine. So if John visualized singing like a pro on that stage, hitting all the right notes and swaying to the music, he would feel like he has done this before. As a result, when the time comes he would be a little less uncomfortable. The more you visualize the more comfortable you are going to feel stepping out of your comfort zone. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to see images clearly in your mind. Not everyone is Visual. Some are better at feeling while others are better at hearing things. So John doesn’t have to see himself on stage. As long as he can feel it, it is equally effective.
#2. Reminisce the times you stepped out of your comfort zone.
Remember the first time you learn to drive. You have to turn the wheel, be in control of the gear, the brake, the clutch, the accelerator and pay attention to how many mirrors??? How difficult was that? At times you may have been frustrated and felt like you would never get this right. But look at you today; you can drive while you are daydreaming about 101 ways to insult your boss and you can still arrive home with all your limbs intact. You have become an excellent driver. This is a classic example of a time you stepped out of your comfort zone. Now it is second nature to you and you do not need to think about it at all. Reminiscing about these things will help you realize that you have overcome similar challenges before. This will make it easier to step out of your comfort zone.
#3. Focus on the possibilities
The core factor that determines whether John steps on to that stage is what he decides to focus on. Does he focus on how difficult it is and how bad it can go? Or does he focus on how it could launch his career as a singer and give him all the happiness in the world? If he chooses the former and focuses on the negative he will never go on that stage. But if he decides to focus on the positive it will give him the motivation necessary to step out of his comfort zone and sing that song. So every time you catch yourself dreading the risk you are about to take switch the direction of your thoughts to a more positive one. This simple change can make stepping out of your comfort zone easier.
#4. Be prepared
If you are going Skydiving research everything you need to know about it. Being prepared helps. The more familiar you are with a certain activity the easier it is for you to actually go through with it. Have you ever noticed how good young children are with mobile phones? They not only know how to make a call but also watch videos, send SMS, chat, browse the internet and play video games. That’s because they have been familiar with it ever since they are little. So it doesn’t scare them at all. In contrast, the same child’s grandmother asks “how do you make this bigger?” Or “why can’t I hear anything?”. That’s because it’s unfamiliar to her. Can you see how being prepared will make things familiar and therefore easier to tackle?
#5. Don’t think; just do it.
If I ask you to do a small speech about climate change in front of 10 people would you hesitate? Most people do. It’s not because they don’t know how to talk but because they overthink. They think “what am I supposed to say?”, “what if I make a fool of myself?”, ” what if I say something stupid and people laugh at me?”. Yet, If I asked you what you think about climate change you will have no problem talking about it for 5 minutes as long as no one interrupts. In fact, you might not even realize that you are the only one talking. So sometimes you just need to take the first step and start doing it and everything else will fall into place.
#6. Know your fears
The biggest obstacles to step out of your comfort zone are the fears that are buried deep within you. It ranges from a fear of criticism to fear of failure. Identifying these would make the process easier. After all when you know that it is your irrational fear talking it is easier to ignore it. However, it is important not to wait until the moment when you have to take a risk to explore your fears. It should be done when you are relaxed and with nothing at stake. This ensures that your judgment is unbiased. After you have identified your fears every time you hesitate to take a risk you can ask yourself if your fears are interfering with your judgment. This makes a huge difference in your decision-making process.
#7. Practice giving up control
It doesn’t matter if you are blocked by the fear of failure or the fear of rejection. Underneath all these fears is the fear of losing control. So, practicing giving up control can help you to step out of your comfort zone. Do you like to be the person who always drives your car? Then let your wife drive for a change. And don’t even think about back seat driving. It’s not giving up control if you are trying to control the other person’s driving. This could be harder for some people than others. If you are one of them try to time how long you can go without commenting on the other person’s driving. Let’s say you managed to go 10 minutes the first time. Then try to go 15 minutes next time.
#8. Plan ahead
Let’s say that you want to quit your job and start making money online. At first, this might be the scariest thing in the world. Then you start doing your research. You decide that you would enjoy writing a blog about fashion. Next, you come up with 10 topics that you can write articles on. After that, you watch a video about setting up your blog with WordPress and you realize that it is not as hard as you thought. It isn’t expensive either. That is when it becomes a possibility rather than a dream. You spend the next 6 months writing articles and promoting your blog while doing your job as well. And when you see that your blog can bring you enough income you quit your job. Can you see that you have a higher chance of following through if you plan in advance? At first, the idea is crazy; as you plan it, it becomes possible and by the time you start doing it, it becomes a reality.
#9. Stop thinking about what other people will think.
Fear of rejection is one of the most common reasons that stop us from stepping out of our comfort zone. “What will they say?”, “will they laugh at me?”, “They will think I am crazy” – these thoughts haunt us every time we think about taking a risk in life. However, if you can develop an attitude in which you do not care about what other people think then it will be easier to step out of your comfort zone. Start by purposely doing small things that you do not think other people will like. For example, you can say no to something that you could easily say yes to. You can also stop being polite and tell what you actually think about your best friend’s haircut. It will be hard at first but the more you do it the easier it will become. Then one day you will realize that you can easily step out of your comfort zone.