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How to step out of your comfort zone

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We are often told that to truly grow and develop we need to step out of our comfort zone.

What IS our comfort zone? According to Wikipedia… A comfort zone denotes that limited set of behaviours that a person will engage without becoming anxious. Alternatively denoted as a “plateau” it describes that set of behaviours that have become comfortable, without creating a sense of risk.

Humans are creatures of habit, we like patterns and familiarity. We are constantly creating little comfort zones in our daily lives. Whether it be a certain spot where we place our handbag when we get home or a specific mug you like to use and feel upset when someone else is using it.

If you travel on your own for business and stay in hotels, do you find that you put things in the same places as you would at home? – For example, watch and rings, suitcase, and make-up. You create your own ‘home away from home’.

What does stepping out of your comfort zone mean to you?

For some people it could mean a huge physical adventure such as hiking Mt Everest, or a physical change such as dying your hair, or adjusting your career path after years of doing the same job. Each one of us has our own individual set of comfort zones, what may be out of the ordinary or scary for some, may just be part of every day life for others.

The barriers, which stop us from stepping out of our comfort zones, are most commonly: fear of failure, fear of embarrassment and lack of self-belief.

Highly successful people routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they want.

A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries that are not real. These boundaries create an unfounded sense of security.

Are you really attempting something that has never been done before? I doubt it.

Every time you step out of your comfort zone you build your confidence levels and open your mind a little further to new opportunities. You learn more about yourself, your capabilities, and ultimately become stronger.

Remember how it felt when you started your first job? Remember the things you worried about? When you think back now, you can realise that it really wasn’t anywhere near as daunting as you imagined. You can be self-reflective and understand what you gained from the experience.

There are times when you don’t have a choice and you are thrust out of your comfort zone and forced to be bold.

Try doing something you do on a regular basis differently – dare to be different (I’m not talking about sky diving unless you have always wanted to). But perhaps a few changes to your normal routine could open your eyes to new possibilities, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

  • Start shopping in the opposite end of the supermarket and see what you see. Or even go to a different supermarket
  • Order something different off the menu at your local café
  • Travel a different way to work
  • Call someone you recently met at a networking event and meet them for a drink
  • Write down 3 things that you are illogically afraid of and commit to doing at least one of them by Easter.
  • Buy a business magazine that you wouldn’t normally buy and learn something new – knowledge is power
  • Learn a new skill – preferably something you think you cannot do
  • Change your self-talk from “no, I don’t think I can” to “ok, I’ll give it a go”

Be bold on your quest for new experiences.

Be bold enough to do the things that are important to you and say the things you need to say.

Be bold enough to say ‘no’ to things that don’t fit your value system and educate others on what is important to you.

Be bold enough to take an honest look at the boundaries of your comfort zone and why you have created them.

Then be bold enough to challenge those boundaries and leap outside of them.

I’m going to conclude with 3 of my favourite quotes…

  1. Dare to be yourself. What others think of you is none of your business.”
  2. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. Diane Ackerman
  3. Never sell yourself short. Anything anyone else has done, you can probably do as well.”

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au

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