Let’s be frank: you’ll never experience personal or business growth if you don’t get out of your comfort zone. Comfort quickly turns into complacency and stagnation.
Growth comes from getting out of that comfort zone and trying something completely different. Have you ever had a great suggestion for improving something at work, but your boss said “No, this is how we’ve always done things.” ? You don’t want to be that boss! The world changes whether we like it or not and so must we. Growth and comfort can’t peacefully coexist.
What’s Stopping You?
Let’s start with something small, like wearing a different shade of lipstick or perhaps wearing no make-up at all. Are you scared to do these things because of how people might perceive you?
Traveling alone can be a scary concept for some people. But do you not do it because of a deep-seated anxiety or just anticipating that you might get bored or restless?
What is that ultimate factor or perceived outcome that is stopping you from getting out of your comfort zone?
Making Yourself Comfortable with Uncertainty
If you don’t have a perceived outcome stopping you from trying something completely different, it could be the uncertainty alone that is stopping you. After all, that uncertainty is often what keeps people in their 9-5 jobs instead of starting businesses or hanging in the shadows instead of mustering up the nerve to ask out that person they’ve been eyeing. If it’s not the fear of failure or rejection, it’s that fear of uncertainty.
You need to get over this fear. What’s something you haven’t done before? It doesn’t necessarily have to be something business related or a huge, risky undertaking like going skydiving. But you need to do something you haven’t done before that has an uncertain outcome. Do some volunteer work for the day, try a new restaurant, take a night class in a subject that seems unrelated to what you do for a living. New experiences and exposure to new ideas and knowledge areas can get you out of that complacency your comfort zone inadvertently shuts you into.
Taking a Leap of Faith
If you’ve just been doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to be different, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
After you’ve started with those little things you’ve never done before, then it’s time to take that leap of faith into something much bigger and more unknown. This could be starting a new business altogether or completely changing the way that you do things. It could be giving yourself permission to start charging more. No matter what kind of leap you’re taking, it’s going to be something huge and momentous that you’ll only feel comfortable with after you’ve had sufficient chance to get out of your comfort zone by starting with the little things.
Once you’ve taken that leap of faith you’ve got to stay focused on the prize and keep on moving. Don’t look back!
Never Stop Learning
In the classic management strategy book “How to Grow a Backbone” by Susan Marshall, the author describes the three main components of having a backbone as competence, confidence, and the ability to take risks.
Obviously, you need confidence in your abilities. The confidence gap is a very real problem that professional women have to contend with. When you aren’t confident in yourself and haven’t been socialized to take risks, it creates a vicious cycle of never achieving any growth as a result of never taking risks and not feeling confident enough to do so. But once you’ve established competence in your field, confidence must come next in order to go from starting with the little things to do differently to taking that leap of faith.
Even if that leap of faith doesn’t pan out the way you were hoping it would, you’ll see that it wasn’t the end of the world. This makes you more apt to want to try again because it’s only a failure if you failed to learn from the experience. Never stop learning from your failures, successes, and the journeys you had to both.