Grow Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC

Why is it so hard for many of us to leave our comfort zone? Well because as humans, we generally like to have things somewhat predictable. We like to have a sense of control, so we usually resist change. However, when we do things that make us uncomfortable or frightened, we become more confident in our ability to deal with the unfamiliar, unknown, and unpredictable. We become the hero in the movie of our own life, and we grow into more self-assured and bold adults.

When was the last time you did something that really scared you?  Lisa Nichols, author of the book “You Can Overcome Every Obstacle No Matter What,” says that we should do something every week that scares us. Many people mistakenly think they have to stop being afraid of something before they can do it, when in fact the opposite is true. Once you do something that scares you, you will no longer be afraid of it. I have experienced this throughout my life, but never as much as I have over the past year. In fact, I made a list of over 70 new things I had never done before starting my business this time last year. This realization has shown me that I have grown more in the past 12 months than I have in the past 12 years. I have done things recently that I was terrified to do, such as networking with a large group of strangers. Each time I do something that scares me, it makes it easier to do the next time, and this courage transfers over to new things that I have never done before.

Here are 10 ways to stretch outside of your comfort zone:

  • Ask someone to write a recommendation, testimonial, or reference for you.
  • Drive somewhere by yourself that you have never been to before.
  • Attend a networking event such as a “Meet-up Group” and introduce yourself to new people.
  • Take on a project at work that expands your skill set or involves more responsibility or a larger leadership role.
  • Join toastmasters.
  • Learn a new skill such as dancing, painting, a foreign language, or playing an instrument.
  • Volunteer your time to a worthwhile cause where you will meet new people and do something new.
  • Visit a foreign country where you do not know the native language.
  • Have a difficult conversation with a family member, friend, boss or co-worker about something they are doing that is bothering you, or something you want to ask forgiveness for.
  • Speak at a conference or an event on a subject that you are passionate about.

Courage simply means that we “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” according to Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. in her book by the same title. We fear what we think we can’t handle. Once we prove to ourselves that we can handle it, then there is no more fear.  Watch this short video about courage.

“Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.”  – Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

“Ships in harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – John Shedd

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