The comfort zone is defined as a “behavioural space where your activities fit a particular routine and pattern that gives you less stress and risk”. One of the difficult things to do is to come out of a comfortable niche which you have carved for yourself especially without knowing what you’ll face out there or what risks are involved if you come out. But the truth is you never know until you make that first step.
I remember when I was relocating back to Nigeria, I was scared….fear of the unknown (especially unemployment stories). I was going to quit a good job and go back to Nigeria with little savings and no job. I didn’t know if I was making the right decision because I was comfortable with my job, could afford my bills and still go on vacations. I was in a dilemma, but one day while praying about it; it occurred to me that my success is not tied to a particular location or a particular job role or sector or company. Your success is in your hands. When that hit me; I lost all the fear, booked my ticket and returned home. Was it easy? Hell NO…did I get a job immediately? Not at all… what happened? Challenges came knocking… it was not easy but they taught me great life lessons that have formed an integral part of me.
Sometimes what hinders us from reaching our goals in life is our reluctance to change our routines and habits. We may know deep within us that this job, business, relationship, eating habit etc. is not right for us but we endure them because we fear what is next. What people don’t realize is that – stepping out of your comfort zone into can create the conditions for optimal performance which is an important factor in personal growth. How can we expect to evolve if we only stick to one habit and routine? Whatever these habits are, we can break out of the patterns and create positive change.
Here are 7 ways to step out of your comfort zone and into the life you’ve always dreamed of:
- Face a fear that you have – Think of that one fear that may be holding you back from your potential and set a goal to tackle it in the next three months. When you achieve that fear, reward yourself for your victory and for improving yourself. For example, I was so afraid of Managerial Accounting during my Masters; as a pure science student going into business school, my greatest fear was failing accounting since I had no background. I decided to study accounting every day until my exams and still, I narrowly escaped failing. I scored 52% and anything below 50% was a failure.
- Do what scares you every day – Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Start by making a list of three things at the beginning of the week and challenge yourself to do each one during the week. Make it fun and see what good things transpire.
- Make a bold move towards a goal – Sometimes we just need to take a big risk for big rewards. The first step is to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal, a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited. Then create a plan with action steps; take one small action everyday towards your goal, or at least once a week. With time, you will realize you have made good progress and feel good about yourself too.
- Change your mind-set – Changing our thoughts takes mental stamina and discipline. A helpful way to start renewing your mind is by writing down statements/declarations in line with what you desire and/or who you want to become and say them every day. Eventually these statements will become a part of your belief system.
- Grow to your next level – What we consider to be negative about ourselves often limit us; maybe something happened and then you make a decision not to go down that path again. Author Saji Ijiyemi said, “A lot of people desire to move to their next level but only a few are determined to grow to their next level.” To “grow to your next level”, first find out what this means to you and then be willing to take on the challenge.
- Change your look – Our thoughts and beliefs are often reflected in our exterior world and not just in our behaviours but also in our physical appearance. For example, you may be struggling with self-confidence and, unknowingly, are trying to hide yourself to avoid attention by toning down your appearance. A total makeover can boost your confidence! You can wear brighter/colourful outfits, get a new hairstyle, haircut or lose some weight. It may be uncomfortable at first to make these changes, but you will send a powerful message to your inner self that you are strong and worthy.
- Practice believing in yourself – This is extremely important because our belief systems or thoughts can paralyze us. If we think negatively about ourselves or our abilities, then we lose our creativity. To change this habit, explore ways that you can practice believing in yourself e.g. creating a vision board of various goals and inspirational messages and/or practice visualization to help manifest your dreams and who you want to be.