We are all creatures of habit and when we have to do something that is not part of our daily routine, this can then bring about fear.
You need to give a speech, but crowds terrify you.
You know it’s time for a raise, but you don’t know how to work up the nerve to approach your boss.
The work you’re doing now no longer satisfies, but finding something new is frightening.
What if you don’t succeed questions?
You have to have a way of dealing with this or other situations.
Remember: Some Of The Best Things Happen When You’re Uncomfortable
In times of stress or discomfort, remind yourself that some of the best things happen outside a comfort zone.
These experiences can both challenge you and help you grow. Let me give you 10 steps to help.
1. Commit to giving the situation a try.
With your best effort, and keep expectations low to alleviate additional pressure.
2. Do Small Activities To Challenge Yourself
Best-selling author and podcaster Tim Ferriss shares some unique insights to step out of your comfort zone, which I have adopted as well.
Learn a new hobby
Write a list of 10 places to visit and then go to there
Negotiate for a cup of coffee at Starbucks
Lie down in a public place for 10 seconds
Hug a random person.
All these activities are geared towards getting you comfortable with doing the commonly unthinkable actions or comfortable trying (like negotiation).
3. Turn It Into A Learning Experience
Take the focus off the discomfort of stepping out of your comfort zone by asking
“What am I learning about me?
What am I learning about the other people in this situation? How can I use the information from the previous two questions in my professional and personal lives?”
4. Coach Yourself
In the spirit of a coach, ask yourself some questions: “What is the worst that could happen? Could I survive it? What is the best that could happen?
Would I or others benefit from it? Are there downsides to remaining where I am?
What is holding me back?” This simple technique elevates thinking. Here is a variation: What questions would you ask if you were coaching someone out of their comfort zone?
5. Picture Yourself Filling With Light And Confidence
Take three deep breaths. Think of something that brings you great joy. Picture your whole body filling up with a bright glow, like a light bulb, as you think of your great joy.
Repeat an empowering phrase to yourself: “I’m safe,” “I’m cool wherever I go” or “I can do this.”
This reduces your body’s stress response and gives you the confidence to step out of your comfort zone. You got this!
Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone
In other words: What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?
Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.
6. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome
Take the list of discomforts and go deeper.
Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear. How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.
Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks? Or, are you afraid of being ignored?
7. Get comfortable with discomfort
One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it.
Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort. Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort.
If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.
8. See failure as a teacher
Many of us are so afraid of failure, that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.
Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?
9. Take baby steps
Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.
Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.
Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.”
Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.” Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.
Finally – You Can Do This
Stepping out of your comfort zone and overcoming fear and anxiety will give you the ‘spare capacity’ in life to focus on what you really want to be and do.
It takes effort, but imagine the rewards.
PS This is a great book – “Feel The Fear and do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers