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Neale Donald Walsch once said:
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Only when you stop letting fears and anxiety hold you back, will you start to make those major breakthroughs in life.
Unfortunately, many people have problems with getting out of their comfort zones. They want to do more in life, but they’re afraid to challenge themselves and push the envelope on what they think is safe.
So, in this post we’re going to talk about your comfort zone. Specifically, I’ll give you seven steps you can use to push those self-created boundaries of what you think is possible.
Getting out of your comfort zone?
Before we get to these seven steps to getting out of your comfort zone, let’s define the term “comfort zone” and how this concept can hold back many people.
A comfort zone is a self-imposed boundary where a person will refuse to push past. Doing so often fills him or her with nervousness and anxiety.
For instance, let’s say you just started a new sales job. Probably there are certain aspects of this job that you feel comfortable doing. Like talking to individual co-workers or clients.
On the other hand, the idea of cold-calling fills you with anxiety. Basically, you feel uncomfortable with doing anything that’s not a one-on-one conversation.
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of never pushing your comfort zone. The problem with this is it often prevents you from true success and happiness in life. That’s because one of the best ways to grow is to test the limits of what most people consider “normal” to live the life you want.
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So let’s talk about the seven steps for getting out of your comfort zone.
7 Steps to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Step #1 – Get Information
Anxiety usually comes from a fear of the unknown. Usually we imagine the worst-case scenario of what could happen when we push past the boundaries of what makes us feel safe.
To break through your comfort zone, you need to first educate yourself. Your goal here is to find out about whatever skill or activity you’re pursuing. You’ll talk to people who have done the same thing. You’ll read books on the subject. And you’ll check-out articles on the Internet about this subject.
Information is power. And the more you know about something, the less scary and more powerful you’ll feel.
Example: Taking the example from the introduction, if you want to be an expert salesperson then your goal is to become comfortable with cold-calling.
So you’ll talk to top sales people and learn what they did to overcome this obstacle. Then you’ll educate yourself about the process and the tricks that other people have used.
Step #2 – Have a Plan
After educating yourself, you want to create a plan of action for pushing the boundaries on what you think is possible.
With this step you’re going to write down a step-by-step blueprint for how you’re going to get out of your comfort zone. You start with the easiest thing to do. Then you create a plan to get to each level.
In this plan you need to create benchmarks. These are mini-goals that put you one step close to pushing past your comfort zone.
Furthermore, it’s important to identify the key challenges you’re going to face and what you’ll do to overcome them.
Example: Back to the sales job. Once you’ve learned about the cold-calling process, you’ll sit down and create a plan for overcoming this limitation. Perhaps you would start with people you already know and work your way up to cold-calling prospects that are considered ‘dead leads.’
Step #3 – Hold Yourself Accountable
Accountability is another key to breaking through your comfort zone. You want to tell your friends and family about what you’re trying to do. Or you can even find an accountability partner or form a mastermind group.
This is an important step because the people in your life will keep you on track. You want them to give you that ‘push’ as you’re pushing your boundaries. They will make it hard for you to quit because you know you’ll look foolish if you did.
Example: Using the previous example you’ll tell people that you want to become a master salesperson. Make a public declaration that you’re committing to making at least 20 calls a day. Hopefully if your friends and family care they’ll ask you each day if achieved your mini goal.
Step #4 – Take Baby Steps
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.~ Lao Tzu
Breaking out of your comfort zone starts with the first step. Once you have a plan in place you’ll simply start with that crucial initial action.
Taking ‘baby steps’ is a great way to de-sensitize yourself to the feelings of anxiety. You’re not trying to become an overnight success. Instead you’re steadily pushing the boundaries of your comfort levels and working towards an overall goal.
Example: Like I said before, you’re going to take baby-steps with your sales job. First you would practice on friends and family. Then you would call the “warm leads” who are ready to buy. Finally, you would work on those nasty dead leads who are really challenging.
Step #5 – Aggressively Challenge Your Comfort Zone
To really blast through your comfort zone, you would do what I call an “aggressive challenge.” This is a rapid-fire approach where do a lot of something that makes you scared. The idea here is you’re shocking the system into becoming comfortable.
You won’t have time to think about your fear. Instead you’ll be so busy pushing your boundaries that you forget about what used to make you scared.
Example: An ‘aggressive challenge’ for your sales job would be to call 100+ prospects in set amount of time. You don’t think during this process. You just do it. If a person is rude or hangs up, you quickly dial another number and move on.
Step #6 – Remain Positive
There will be times when you experience a negative outcome. Something that shakes your confidence and makes you feel scared. The trick is to not let anything prevent you from blasting past the point of comfort.
Recognize that you will have negative outcomes. It’s a natural part of the process.
Don’t allow negativity to creep into your mind. Remind yourself that it’s going to happen. In fact, you should recognize that you’re actually being given feedback about how you can do something better.
Example: With cold calling there is a large number of ‘rejections.’ People will hang up, they’re going to be rude, and some might even threaten to kill you.
The trick here is to create the mantra of “next.” Whenever someone is negative you quickly identify the mistake that you made and simply say next as you move on to the next phone call.
Step #7 – Keep Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Never stop expanding your comfort zone. Even if you arrive at your stated goal it’s important to keep pushing those boundaries.
Look for new comfort zone challenges. Find stuff that you would never imagined you would do. Like teaching a class on the subject that once filled you fear. Or you could work on a related skill.
Example: When finally get comfortable with cold calling you’ll look for more challenging experiences. Perhaps you’ll mentor a younger sales person who is having problems with this area. Or maybe you identify another key area in your job and focus on mastering that skill.
The important thing is to keep pushing the boundaries of your job.
How Do YOU Get Out of Your Comfort Zone?
Breaking out of your comfort zone gives you more opportunity in life. Don’t let anxiety prevent you from doing what you truly want. Attack your fears and push the boundaries of what makes feel comfortable.
The truth is you might actually learn to like what you’re doing. Maybe you’ll find that this experience will provide an opportunity you never knew existed.
If you're looking for more resources to help you push past your anxiety and break out of your comfort zone, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 7 Simple Habits to Overcome Paralysis by Analysis
- 11 Self-Awareness Tests to Truly Understand Yourself
- 553 Bucket List Ideas to Do Before You Die
Finally, if you want to level up your productivity and time management skills, then watch this free video about the 9 productivity habits you can build at work.