Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems like the theme for this month is “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone.” A lot of the conversations I’ve been having, the blog posts I’ve been reading and even a recent teleclass I attended all seemed to be telling me to step out of my comfort zone in order to realize my vision and achieve a greater level of success.
Now, any time I hear snappy catch phrases like “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone,” or “Play a Bigger Game” or “Stop Playing Small” I tend to roll my eyes and gag ever so slightly. It’s not that these phrases aren’t relevant or meaningful. They just never come with a clear set of instructions on how to follow through and do what’s being demanded.
But this repeating theme of “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone” made me question… have I been keeping myself locked in the familiar, the status quo, because it’s comfortable for me? Have I been stalling on certain projects or moving forward with certain goals because I’m afraid of feeling “uncomfortable?”
When I looked at some of my recent behaviors and “symptoms,” I had to confess, yes. I’ve been defaulting to what’s familiar and comfortable instead of taking actions that would get me closer to my goals.
What about you?
Are you feeling a bit cramped and constricted by your own comfort zone? Do any of the following symptoms feel familiar?
- What you say you want and what you do every day don’t seem to line up very well.
- You feel jealous and resentful of those who are doing what you want to be doing.
- You have a handy pocketful of acceptable excuses when faced with an opportunity to step up, take action and move towards your goals.
- You schedule important tasks to move your business forward but when it comes time to do those tasks, some other less challenging task suddenly becomes urgent and irresistible.
- Weeks go by and you still haven’t done what you promised yourself you would do.
- You feel more on edge, slightly dissatisfied and strangely disappointed… and you’re not quite sure why.
- Your life is filled with unexpected drama or personal disasters.
Now, I’m not saying these are always a sign that you’re stuck in your comfort zone, but they are signs that you’re not taking consistent action on what’s truly important to you. You’re not valuing yourself enough to act on your goals.
If you feel you may be stuck in your comfort zone for whatever reason, here are some things you can do:
You can always just stay right where you are and not do a damned thing. But chances are good that if you don’t make a move and change something, change will be foisted upon you.
2. Fully acknowledge and express your “No!”
Hey, anytime you’re resisting something, be it a new project or a change in your daily schedule, there is some part of you that is digging in her heels, crossing her arms and saying, “No way! I ain’t going to budge!”
Instead of denying this part of yourself, let yourself fully have your “No!” Say it. Feel it. Enjoy it! Feel the relief of it.
If you don’t fully acknowledge and express your “No!” you will never be able to fully claim and have your “Yes.”
3. Forgive yourself.
So often, we don’t take those important albeit scary steps towards our expansion and our success because we don’t value ourselves enough. We doubt our ability to make things work. We’re scared we might be wrong and everything will fall apart. We don’t have enough faith in ourselves, in those around us or in God to do what we need to do to move toward what we really, truly want.
Forgive yourself for thinking so poorly of yourself. Forgive yourself for not honoring your brilliance, your talents and your ability to make it happen. Forgive yourself for not trusting that you have everything you need to succeed.
4. Honor and bless the sweet suffocation that is your comfort zone.
Let’s be clear. Your comfort zone is not your enemy. It’s been your loyal, dependable friend. It’s given you a sense of safety and a place to rest, to reflect, to dream, to ponder. You created it, and it is a beautiful creation that has served you well.
So, before you start to step up and out of it, be sure to tip your hat, blow it a kiss and thank your comfort zone from the bottom of your heart.
5. Make another choice.
Just as you’ve chosen to stay tucked into your comfort zone, you can choose to step out. Or not. Know it is your choice. And, I would add, whatever choice you make is perfect. It could be that there are some really good reasons to stay right where you are and not change a thing. Maybe there is already too much changing in your life right now.
But whatever you choose, be honest with yourself. Know that it is your choice.
6. Take it easy.
You don’t have to make a huge, dramatic leap out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to quit your job, move across the country (Been there! Done that!) or invest thousands of dollars into a shiny new coaching program. You can ease your way out of your comfort zone by simply saying “yes” to some of the things you’ve been saying “no” to. You can make a small shift, a baby step, if you will.
Most likely, you’ve already been presented with multiple opportunities to take a small step, but you may have quickly dismissed them (“oh, I don’t have time for that right now.” “I can’t afford it.” “My partner would kill me if I took the time to…”). Can you say “yes” to one of these opportunities?
7. Ask For and Receive Help
I’ll admit. I’m not very good at asking for help. Even when I know I need it. I always feel I should be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound without a boost up from anyone.
But anytime you choose to step out of your comfort zone, you will, for a while, feel uncomfortable. And scared. And uncertain. You will tend to doubt yourself and try to talk yourself out of it. This is why you need someone “on the outside,” like a friend, coach or mentor to give you support and perspective. Ask for their help and support. But don’t just ask for it. Receive it. Call upon it. Allow yourself to be fortified by it.
Last week, I had to ask several people for help when I started to doubt my ability to follow through with an important project that meant a great deal to me. I started to melt down, have a million doubts and conjure up some pretty convincing reasons why I should not go through with it. If I hadn’t asked for their help, I would have missed out on an opportunity that ended up being one of the most soul-satisfying, creative milestones I’ve had in years! No lie.
Tell me, do you think you may be stuck in your comfort zone? Or are you happy and thriving in there? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Or if you have some of your own tips on how to ease out of what’s comfy and familiar, why not share them? I’d love to hear from you.