How will stepping out of your comfort zone boost your success?

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I heard this the other day and it really resonated. A few years ago, I returned to work after being a stay at home mum and the job I took was great but didn’t challenge me enough. Yet, it was perfect for building my confidence and re-affirm that I was capable and good at what I do. I decided I needed to push myself more and challenge my abilities. It was then I made the scary decision to become a freelance copywriter!

'We don’t grow when things are easy, we only grow when we face challenges'

Since going out on my own, I realised I had been comfortable, not embraced risk or had any major personal growth – apart from increased confidence. I finally appreciated the comfort zone was consistent and steady but not allowing me to reach my potential. I had no risk and no stress. Now as a freelance, I am experiencing both of these things!

Ok, I don’t advocate a life of stress, I have seen first-hand the damage that causes, but some healthy anxiety acts as a catalyst for progression and provides motivation.

So what are the benefits of challenging ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zone?

It helps us perform at our peak – and allows for personal growth. How can we evolve if we only stick to what we know? Reaching new heights does involve the risk of failure but FAIL re-framed is:

So, either way you look at it, you will experience progression and lifelong transformation from just trying! If you want to keep on learning, you must keep risking failure — all your life. It’s that simple!

Trying new things can make you more creative - by regularly taking calculated risks, challenging yourself and testing new things, you become open to new experiences. This boosts intellectual curiosity and imagination and has been shown to be a good predictor of creative achievement. So, go on, utilise your untapped knowledge and resources!

Embracing new challenges can help you age better - expanding and opening yourself up to greater fulfilment boosts well-being. Staying mentally alert, whilst maintaining a strong social network, sounds like a great way to slow down the aging process to me!

But don’t push yourself too far - too much stress is counterproductive as performance drops and stifles creativity when we have too much. Be careful to get the balance right.

Ok, so we agree about the benefits - here are 5 ways in which we can actually step outside of our comfort zone:

  1. Make it a regular thing - to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, you need to regularly step out of your comfort zone. When you start doing it, you realise that you can do it and the fear begins to recede. The benefits far outweigh the negatives.

  2. Start small - you don’t need to completely change your behaviour overnight, try taking small steps first. Say “yes” to one thing you would never have done before – a simple desk change, a new type of coffee or changing part of your daily routine. This helps you to start getting comfortable with trying new things.

  3. Look at fear differently – look at the opportunities and experiences you will learn. Be positive and get excited about a new challenge; re-frame your attitude towards it. This will cause a big shift in your feelings, so whatever it is won’t seem so overwhelming.

  4. Look for a challenge – once you do something that tests you, it gives you a completely different perspective and makes you more receptive to change. I did a project for a client recently that I thought I would not be able to do. I did it and the client loved it and the endorphin rush afterwards was fantastic!

  5. Focus on the why – I have written about this in a previous blog – How knowing your why can transform your life. It is very important. If you don’t know why you are doing something and you have no mission as to why you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, you will not push yourself. Really think about your why and make it the reason for everything you do. It will give you more courage.

Our lives are the sum total of ALL our experiences, not just the ones we are comfortable with. I try to leave my comfort zone as much as I can and although at times it is not easy, I am undergoing some amazing transitions because of it. I know it may seem overwhelming at first but see each day as a new challenge and be open to what opportunities may come your way.

Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in his recent letter to Expedia, on his departure to become the CEO of Uber: “I have to tell you I am scared. I've been here at Expedia for so long that I've forgotten what life is like outside this place. But the times of greatest learning for me have been when I've been through big changes, or taken on new roles - you have to move out of your comfort zone and develop muscles that you didn't know you had."

We all have the ability to step outside of our comfort zone and reach success, so go for it!

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