6 Ways to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone…and Love it
I frequently blog and talk about getting out of your comfort zone. I preach this because this is the one way I KNOW to expedite the personal and professional growth process. Someone asked me yesterday, “what do you mean ‘get out of your comfort zone? How do I do that’?”
While it sounds simple, if you are truly stepping ‘out’, this is a BIG change. EMBRACE IT. The learning and growth you will experience will be directly proportional to the magnitude of the change you make or the discomfort you seek to experience. I’ve learned to thrive on this feeling of discomfort…can you?
1. Start Small. Change is scary for everyone, so the more used to it you are, the easier it will be. If you’ve never done anything REALLY scary in your life, start with a small change. Make a goal like, “I’m going to give my opinion to the CEO” and DO IT (do it professionally). Another example of something small would even be ‘asking the boy or girl you like on a date’. Anything that makes you feel a bit unnerved when you think about it is a great place to start.
2. Commit to yourself. Commit to change. “Agreement is not commitment” – RC and you need to learn the difference. A commitment is a complete mindset face lift. Your mindset must be committed to growth; quick growth.
3. Measure your commitment. Decide that you are going to do “one thing that takes you out of your comfort zone” per day; or maybe it’s ‘per week’. You want to face one fear or one situation that you normally would have brushed off. Write it down in the morning, check it off at night.
4. Reinforce outcomes. Each time you do something you wouldn’t normally do, write down what you learned from it. When you’re fearful of taking on something different the next time, go back and read what you learned and how you grew from something.
5. Know yourself; know when you’re ready for a big change. Make the change. Don’t think about it emotionally. As Nike says, “Just do it”.
6. MAKE MISTAKES and love it. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you they learned more from the failures than their successes. If you hold yourself accountable and learn from them, you have served yourself best.
7. Move. Be in constant motion. What has served me best over the past decade is constant motion; and please note – this does not mean, “move up” – this may also mean, “moving down” (in the proverbial corporate ladder). It takes just as much courage to take a step back from a job or product you are not ready for as it does to take it head on.
My experiences and growth periods all stemmed from #7 – movement. I worked for Kaplan and I was their top sales rep for years; but that was where my professional skill set ended – SALES. While fun and certainly profitable, it was a skill set that many others entailed and it was beginning to get boring. I wanted to use my brain, I wanted to be challenged, and I wanted to be completely uncomfortable. So, I left the security of my job and went to a start up company. Best career decision I ever made. I “took a step back”, took a pay cut, and was constantly thrown in all functional areas of a business. I was scared, I was excited, and everyday was an adventure. I have yet to match that experience. Over 3 years, I became a different person – both personally and professionally. Professionally, I was making more money and dealing with more high level strategies, deals, and executives than any of my friends that had MBA’s. While I’m a proponent of continuing education, I can contest that there is no better education than working in a start up.
MOVE AGAIN. I didn’t want to leave my start up, but the opportunity for another start up company was offered. It was across the country. Being your typical “Damn Yankee”, I thought NYC and South FL were the centers of the universe for most of my life. When I was offered a role for a job in Texas, I grabbed it. In 3 weeks, I left my job, my home, my family, and my friends; and moved to Dallas, TX. This was the second best ‘move’ I made both personally and professionally. From a business perspective, I interacted with and learned how to communicate with a different type of executive. The conservative nature held by those in Texas was nothing I’ve ever experienced on the east coast and I had to relearn and reteach myself how to communicate, both internally and with clients – as a representative of the company. Personally, it WAS the best move I’ve made. My marriage was stronger than ever, as when you leave your friends and family – you truly only have each other. Not being around family and friends was tough, but I learned independence quickly. Being an extrovert, I thought it would be fun to make new friends, but it is a challenge to find people whose values are similar to yours. I learned new and different values and cultures and gained a whole new perspective as well as a new “family” – or set of friends in my building who became like family.
Take it from me and my experiences – you want to grow – get out of your comfort zone. It’s scary and hard while it’s happening, but when you look back, it will be the best experience of your life.