I have moved out of my comfort zone several times throughout my career.
I started working in sales when I was young and idealistic. The most important lesson I learned was how to accept rejections, without damaging my motivation.
I then went into a building construction company. I learned how to read structural drawings and do concrete testing. I was involved with purchasing of building materials from the sand and gravel products to large equipment including the concrete batching plant and boiler.
My next move was into the tolling industry. I was involved from the start and the opening of five toll plazas. I learned how to write standard operating procedures and trained staff to handle the equipment and deal with a lot of cash daily.
The company hired learning impaired individuals as part of their community service. One of the biggest challenges was learning the sign language to enable me to train these individuals to become toll operators.
I then tried an entirely new industry. It was edutainment. This was something totally new but it was the most enjoyable and fun place to work at. I would have stayed longer than 3 years if the company did not wind up and close shop.
My next move was the security services industry. I faced another big challenge which was learning how to communicate with foreign workers. They were former British, Indian and Nepali armies from Nepal who spoke little English.
My last move out of my comfort zone was quitting my secured job as an operations manager to become self-employed.
What about you? How do you feel about moving out of your comfort zone? If you find it hard, it’s understandable.
The comfort zone is a boundary you form in your mind. You remain in this familiar place and don’t want to step outside it because it is comfortable, secure and certain.
Stepping out of it involves risk. It will bring about a whirlwind of emotions such as fear, stress and anxiety. This is probably the strongest reason why you’d rather stay put even though you are not growing and feel unhappy.
But if you were to step out and be willing to face new and challenging tasks, you will discover that doing something unfamiliar pushes you to discover your true potential. Your self-confidence increases. You feel more alive trying out new experiences instead of getting stuck. You gain personal growth.
7 Ways to Move out of Your Comfort Zone
1. Look at Your Routines
Don’t you get bored doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing any growth and improvement?
This is where you can start to move out of your comfort zone.
Identify the routine that makes you feel stuck. Think of how you can do it differently or the opposite of what you have been used to. Take action and aim to make 1% progress each day through deliberate practice.
2. Take up a New Challenge
Think of one new thing you would like to try your hands on. Choose one that excites you but at the same time scares you.
Preparation is important. Find out what you need to learn. Read more about it. Ask around for more information. Search for success stories and study how other people did it.
You don’t have to know everything. Get just enough information to help you map out a plan and start the new project. You will learn as you move along and make necessary adjustments.
3. Embrace Diversity and Differences
Expand your circle of friends. Instead of hanging out with the same group of people who think, act and have the same values as you do, go out and make friends with people who have different opinions and personalities.
Making connection with people you disagree with in their beliefs and culture enables you to develop understanding and compassion.
Diversify your reading list, your skills and also your investments. It broadens your knowledge, enable you to try new things, and learn what works and what doesn’t. It is one of the ways to discover a new passion.
4. Be Willing to Try and Fail
Fear is one of the major reasons why you, and most people, are afraid to step out of the comfort zone.
But you cannot succeed at something unless you do the thing you fear. When you do it, you might fail or makes mistakes in the beginning. That’s normal because you have not acquired enough knowledge, skills and experiences.
So before you begin something, accept that you may fail. But don’t let it stop you from starting. Face the fear and use it as an inspiration to challenge you to become better.
Keep your thoughts positive. Imagine the best thing that will happen when you succeed. And remember failure is not fatal, unless you do something extreme and dangerous
5. Get Help and Support
Things will look and feel less frightening if you can get help and support.
Connect with people who have the expertise. You can get guidance and encouragement. It will help you put things into perspective and gain clarity. You will learn faster and make fewer mistakes.
You will get feedback. Feedback is important because it helps you learn and improve your performance.
6. Learn from Past Successes
The past is useful only if it helps you learn and grow. Look back at your past successes and not those that are painful and bring you down.
If you were to go back, you will recall things you have started and succeeded even though you were scared. Use the same strategies. If you can do it once, you can do it again.
Learn from history. Many successful people who came before you have stories to tell. They leave behind their plans and tactics. Study and use them.
7. Believe in Yourself
Believe you can do it and you are halfway through. It opens up your mind to learn and accept new ideas.
You develop courage. You will stop hesitating and feel inspired to move out of your comfort zone and do what you fear.
You will embrace uncertainty and take control.
Stepping out of the familiar territory is scary because of the fear of the unknown. But you will have regrets many years from now if you remain within the comfort zone.
Don’t let it happen.
Stretch and push yourself beyond your normal thoughts, beliefs and activities. Be willing to try challenging and new things.
Start evaluating your life and where you stand right now. Look at what and where you are dissatisfied with. Do something about it instead of complaining and believing that you cannot change and become more.
There are so many things out in the world to try, do, see and experience. Go for it.