Okay, we all agree that breaking out of your comfort zone is one of the biggest keys to success, right? Everywhere you look there are inspiring quotes telling you to do it. Nearly every speech you’ve ever heard — from class valedictorians to keynotes to viral TED Talks — emphatically declare it. Everyone who inspires you in this industry and beyond lives it.
So if you believe in its importance and desperately want to do it, why aren’t you out there shaking things up and reaping its glorious benefits? Because it feels wicked hard, and the siren song of security is too difficult to resist.
Want to hear a little secret? It’s not hard. Is it totally scary? Yes. But it’s not hard to get out of your comfort zone. And it’s worth it. Here are some do-able (and not-so-terrifying) ways you can get started today.
Remember how many times you’ve done it. You have changed things up countless times throughout your life. Each time you moved up a grade, switched jobs, went on a first date, traveled to a new city, and even tried a new hairstyle, you exited your comfort zone. Sometimes the change was momentary; sometimes it was revolutionary. Was it always easy? No. But the point is you did it more times than you even realize. You’re just out of practice. Get yourself back in the game. You deserve to play.
Make peace with failure. When it comes to trying new things or getting out of our comfort zones, the fear of failure holds most of us back. What if what you have to say isn’t good enough? What if you blow your chance with that coveted prospect? What if your idea gets rejected? Recognize that along the way, you are going to fail. It’s inevitable. It happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Learn from what failure has to tell you. Make it your friend…okay, frienemy. Use it to adapt and grow. You’ve failed before and are still here to tell the tale. And the tale is probably better because of it.
Watch those around you doing it innately. We were all born with a natural ability and desire to try new things and test limits. I’m reminded of this when my 16-month-old daughter does, well, everything. Every day, she tries something new (except for green veggies — bleck!) and tests limits. Survey your life for those around you who live in the moment and own it. It could be a colleague, your colorful old aunt who just doesn’t give a…,, or even (and perhaps especially) your dog. Whether they are young or old, feline or canine, you can apply their determination to your life.
Put. Yourself. Out. There. Going up to someone you admire at a tradeshow or hitting the send button on an email is scary, but more often than not, the person responds in kind and you can learn even more. Ask for a one-on-one meeting to get some perspective. Ask questions about what they do to challenge themselves, how they stay positive and motivated and more. People — especially in this industry — are incredibly generous with sharing their time and knowledge. Send that email. Make that phone call. Your day will be better off for it. Do it. Right now. It feels so good.
Try something new. Every day. Speaking of trying new things. When was the last time you did it? When we live our lives in the exact same manner every day, it’s easy to get into a pattern of playing it safe. But trying something new is one of the easiest ways to stretch your personal boundaries. So look for big and small ways you can change up your day and your life. Take a different route to work (bonus points if you do it without GPS). Listen to a podcast on a topic you know nothing about. Sign up for a class. Join a regional association. Try a different ice cream flavor. It all counts.
We all belong, and we all have something to contribute. It has never been easier to have your voice heard, and it has never been easier to get involved and learn from others. I’ve only scratched the surface of putting myself out beyond my natural comforts, and it’s exceeded my expectations. Let this former wallflower be a lesson to you. It is possible, and it is awesome.
What is one way you can get out of your comfort zone today?