Stepping out of your Comfort Zone is easier than you think. Here’s how….
Where are you when you get out of bed in the morning? I know that sounds like a ridiculous question and I don’t mean it literally. I’m talking about where are you in your head?
When you wake up knowing you’ve got to do something that’s going to take you out of your comfort zone. What are you thinking? What’s your frame of mind?
There are some people who embrace every day positively regardless of what life throws at them. These people are happy to have a go at anything. They have no fear of failure, embarrassment or ridicule.
And there are other people who cringe at the thought of having to do anything remotely challenging. These people might even actually go out of their way to avoid situations.
So what’s the secret? How do some people manage to happily step out of their comfort zone with ease while others struggle to do anything that’s remotely challenging to them?
Quite simply, the difference between these two types of people is the way they think.
To understand more, try looking at it like this….
Imagine you exist with a protective cocoon around you. This cocoon is your ‘comfort zone’. It’s a protective layer which surrounds you. It becomes comfortable and more cosy whenever you start to think things like “I don’t really want to do that” “that will be really embarrassing” “people will laugh at me” “I can’t do that, what if it goes wrong”. The more you think like this, the thicker your cocoon becomes and the more you want to stay inside.
Some peoples’ natural inclination is to find ways to stay inside this protective area whenever they feel challenged by someone or something. They see their cocoon as their safe place. They only venture out of the cocoon when they have no other choice or when they have to do something.
The problem is, the more time you spend inside your cocoon, the more comfortable it becomes and in turn the harder it becomes for you to…
- a) Venture out of it.
- b) Feel in control and comfortable when you’re outside it.
It’s a vicious circle.
On the other hand, people who are mentally strong don’t see venturing out of their cocoon as a challenge; instead, they view it as an opportunity. An opportunity which enables them to learn and practise. In fact, they know that the more they come out of their safety cocoon the more they’ll learn and, as a result, the greater the chance of opportunities coming their way.
There’s no doubt that almost everyone will experience some feelings of nervousness and apprehension whenever they venture outside their cocoon. However, mentally strong people understand that the more they challenge themselves the less they will rely on their cocoon and the more comfortable they will feel living their life mostly outside it.
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Stepping out of your comfort zone is like coming out of your protective cocoon
Vicky is a great example of someone who only came out of her cocoon when she really had to. In fact, she would do her best to avoid any challenging situation.
Vicky worked in the sales department of an IT company selling software. She attended the weekly sales meeting but she’d never been asked to run it. Then one morning her boss rang in sick and asked her to chair it for him.
Vicky’s immediate reaction was to make negative assumptions. She thought to herself … it will be a nightmare … I’ll be terrible at it … I’ll never be as good as my boss.
Her next reaction was to try to work out how she could get out of it. Very quickly she came up with a solution. She made up an excuse why she couldn’t do it and asked her colleague Jack to take her place.
During this thought process Vicky’s cocoon got thicker and it became harder for her to step out of it.
On the other hand, Jack’s thought process when she asked him to chair the meeting was completely different.
He was in exactly the same boat as Vicky; he hadn’t run a meeting before and he felt daunted by the challenge too … but that didn’t stop him.
Jack saw running the meeting as an opportunity. He saw it as a positive experience. He saw it as a chance to make a good impression on his boss. He thought – ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’
The difference between Vicky and Jack was that Vicky was naturally a pessimist whereas Jack was an optimist.
Think carefully the next time you’re stepping out of your comfort zone.
Understand your natural inclination; do you vere towards positive or negative thinking?
If you’re like Vicky, you’ll need to turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. You’ll need to do this quickly before your cocoon starts to become thicker and harder to break out of.
These simple positive thinking techniques will help.
Mix with positive people
Be careful who you spend your time with. Who are the people you speak to most at work? Who do you socialise with most often? If they are mainly negative people, they’re not helping you. If you hear people being negative a lot, you need to get away from that because it’s contagious. So spend more time if you can with positive people. Strive to get out more to meet new people who are positive people. They’re contagious too. They communicate positivity and you catch it.
Come to terms with the fact that change is a positive thing. Don’t be frightened of it. If you don’t open your mind to the need to do things differently, you can’t learn, improve and develop.
Keep a journal
Record what you do. Why? So you continually remind yourself of the good things that are happening and your achievements. Negative people often forget the good and dwell on the bad. Each evening, before you go to bed, try writing down three good things that happened to you during the day.
Have a plan each day
Plan today what you’ll do tomorrow. Don’t wait until tomorrow arrives; you’ll get hijacked by other things. Have personal goals over the next year, then consider next month, next week and then each day.
Break routines. Spice things up. That will help you to feel more motivated and have knock on effects in terms of your positivity. Try to do a few things differently. For example, reflect on how you organise yourself at work. What do you do each day? Think about the routine you have. If you have any flexibility, try to mix it up a bit. Changing your routine can inject that little spark you need to help you think more positively. You may well become more effective too.
Exercise releases positive chemicals into the blood stream. Try to do something regularly that you enjoy, even if it’s just a walk round the block. It’s amazing how different you’ll feel afterwards. Build this activity into your daily planning process. That way, you’re more likely to do it!
Never whinge. Always communicate a positive message, even when things aren’t going well. Be disciplined. If you think negatively, you’re more likely to talk negatively. Smiling more helps tremendously with this.
Stepping out of your comfort zone – Infographic
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