“Move out of my comfort zone, why would I do that?” you are probably thinking. Sure, living within one’s comfort zone can feel safe, reassuring, familiar and predictable. However, this comfort zone can also provide the perfect breeding ground for boredom, apathy, and stagnation.
In order for us to make change in any area of our life, we need to be prepared to branch out into the unfamiliar. Change does not happen if we continue to do the same thing day after day, year after year. We can only grow and we can only make change if we choose to take that first step and do something different.
“Okay, well that’s pretty scary stuff” you are probably thinking, and I would have to agree with you on that. The number one thing that stops us from making life changes and doing something different is fear. It may be fear of the unknown, fear of what people will think of us, fear of rejection, fear of being alone, fear that we’re too old or any other number of reasons. Unfortunately for a lot of us, this fear keeps us trapped in a life that is no longer fulfilling or meeting our needs and desires.
An Introvert and Social Media
I came up against this fear not very long ago when I started my online coaching business. I had already made a number of changes in my life over the last couple of years to get to this point and was looking forward to starting this new chapter in my life. However, there was one area in which I was dragging my heels and putting off until the last minute. This was getting myself out there. ‘There’, being on the Internet, initially a website and then social media.
As an introvert, having a website launched under my name, with photos and personal information about me circulating out there for anyone to see was terrifying. I’m not the sort of person that enjoys being the centre of attention but is a lot more comfortable just blending into the crowd. Therefore, the website launch was so far out of my comfort zone that I didn’t tell anyone about it for several weeks afterward, for fear that they would go and look at it!
Having had time to get over myself about the website launch , I decided to extend myself even further and tackle social media. I created a Facebook business account and after sitting at my computer for far too long, I finally plucked up the courage to push the button to make my business account live. OMG, now people I know will see it!
Okay, for those of you with more extroverted tendencies or who don’t mind being the centre of attention, this probably all sounds a little bit crazy. However, it does illustrate how the comfort zone for one person may actually be the fear zone for another.
And let me just say, that through pushing through this fear, my comfort zone has now expanded, such that I am now relaxed about interacting with social media and have also joined the world of Instagram.
So, based on what worked for me, I have put together some suggestions for anyone else who is needing a bit of a nudge to move into unfamiliar territory.
How to move out of your comfort zone
- Have a plan. Plan where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Make sure you know your end goal or your destination. While training to be a Life Coach I knew that working for myself was my end goal. Although I chose not to think about it too much, deep down I knew that I was going to have to advertise my business eventually. So having put everything else in place, this was my obvious next step. Also, having come so far toward my goal, it was almost a sense of not being able to stop now.
- Go slowly and take small steps. Once you start moving out of your comfort zone it will be scary. This is normal, you may feel unsure of yourself and may be tempted to return to your old patterns and behaviours. You will feel a degree of stress as you will be required to ‘stretch’ yourself. Dependent on what you are trying to change in your life, moving in and out of your comfort zone may be appropriate. A little bit of stretching into the fear zone and then relaxing back into the comfort zone may well be the best way for you to implement change. Taking small steps when moving out of your comfort zone is usually a lot more effective for long-term growth and change. (Think of it like a muscle, that you’re slowly building up to become strong). My first step was to launch my website (in secret), then I created a Facebook business account, before moving into Instagram.
- Don’t push yourself into the terror zone. It is just beyond the comfort zone, where you’ve faced your fear that you enter the zone of growth and learning. It is in the area between the comfort zone and the growth zone that you want to be working in. If you push yourself too far all at once, you will enter another area which is called the terror zone. It is here that anxiety and stress levels are so elevated that you will be unable to function at an optimum level. We all know that extreme levels of stress also impact our physical and emotional health. Now, I certainly would have entered the terror zone if I had launched all my social media channels on the same day. Especially if I had told everyone I knew in advance to go and check them out.
- Remind yourself why you’re doing this. This one is important so you don’t lose sight of your goal, your dream or your vision. Ask yourself what it is you are wanting to achieve? How will your life be different once you’ve made this change? How are you going to feel once this change has been implemented? I had to remind myself that I wanted to be a Life Coach and help other people make positive changes to their lives. I was no longer feeling fulfilled in the job I’d held for a number of years and was choosing to move into an area of work that I was passionate about. I kept focused on my future and what I wanted for it.
- Ask yourself if you’ll regret not doing this. If you don’t make this change now, how will you feel about it in one year, five years, 10 years or 20 years. Will you look back and wonder how life could have been different if you had only had the courage to take a risk and do something different. I asked myself if I was prepared to live with knowing that my fear of being on the Internet stopped me from living the life I wanted to live? My answer was no.
- Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen. Okay, this is not a question for everyone if it means you’re going to start then focusing on the answer rather than focusing on the future you want. But how about framing it as “Could I live with this worst case scenario” or “Would I rather be stuck where I am”. Remembering that life is full of opportunities and none of us know what is around the corner. For me, I decided I could live with being out ‘there’, if it meant I was able to live the life I wanted.
And how do I feel now?
Extremely proud for having worked up the courage to challenge my fears. After discovering that nothing terrible happened when I entered the world of social media, I now love creating posts to put on Facebook and Instagram. I have learned so much in the process and look at me now, even writing articles!
This is the thing, once you start moving out of your comfort zone it will be scary. You will feel a degree of stress as you will be required to ‘stretch’ that new muscle. However, remember that all stress is not bad and when it comes to making positive changes in your life, this stress will be healthy. It is through moving slowing through this process you have the ability to create true growth and transformation in your life.