Last week was busy. On Monday I focused on my business development. I spent Tuesday planning client projects. Wednesday and Thursday were spent at the second All About People two-day conference. (It was a great couple of days, and I’ll write something about that once it’s all settled in my head). On Friday, I met up with various people who I’ve enlisted to help me with a new project. It’s a teaching project and it takes me completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve never taught before.
And that’s what brings me to this blog post.
They say working outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. I have often thought that was a cliché. Since I’ve been running my own business it feels like being outside of my comfort zone is a permanent state. In fact being in it is a bit boring.
When you work for yourself you have to learn the ropes of running a business as well as being good at what you do.
This has led me to a state where I keep learning. I take on tasks and challenges I’ve never done before and doing something new becomes the norm. It’s a constant state of change and growth.
I say yes to new ideas, new projects and challenges. That’s why I love working for myself, because I can assess the challenge and go for it if I choose.
Most recently I’ve said yes to a couple of exciting new opportunities. If I they came up a couple of years ago, I would have said no (they are way too big and scary). And if I wasn’t so excited by them now and so quick to say yes, the little devil on my shoulder would have whispered in my ear “don’t be ridiculous, you can’t do that”. But I was quicker, I said yes before any self-doubt could take over.
I don’t know about magic yet, but I do feel uncomfortable. I also feel challenged – pushed to think and deliver in a way I’m not used to doing. I’m also a bit scared of failing and letting anyone down. I’m excited by the prospect of success – helping the students to learn and see a new perspective. I’m buzzing at the thought of completing this project and alive with ideas. While to the outside world, I am deeply absorbed in my own thoughts. So, while I’m here in this zone, feeling uncomfortable, I thought I’d compile a list.
My tips to help yourself when you’re outside your comfort zone:
- Know yourself and what makes something outside of your comfort zone. Identify the challenge. Know what it looks like and what makes it so uncomfortable.
- Have a plan for your ambitions. This could be your goals, your personal development plan or business plan. Whatever it may be that guides what you do and helps you measure the risk of leaving your comfort zone. Know what you want to achieve or the fear that you want to overcome.
- Break it down into little steps – it’s much less scary when it’s not so big and hairy!!!
- Keep yourself motivated. Remind yourself why you are stepping out of your comfort zone and taking this risk.
- Get comfy in the zone – it’s the new normal. Being outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis makes it a lot less scary. But look after yourself too. I’m a classic introvert in many ways and need time to reflect and process after being out of my comfort zone.
- Embrace the chance to learn from your mistakes – this is a big one for me. I have worked in the corporate world and I come from a family of low risk takers. Taking risks and failing seems like a bad thing to do. I have to work hard to make myself take the risks. But the benefits of what I learn and achieve each time I do it make it all worthwhile.
- Hang out with the other crazies. I love going to events where I meet other people who are brave and inspiring. They are always stepping outside of their comfort zones. Their humanity, fear and honesty is so inspiring. I recently heard someone I admire tell the story of how she’d failed at a recent assessment. She brushed herself off and tried again and passed. I also heard someone speak at an event and his personal story was palpable and his voice shaky. He was so honest and human. Not only was his talk brilliant, but he also showed us all that we can do something scary and survive.
- Don’t kid yourself. I can be a master of excuses when it comes to not doing something I’m scared of doing. I’ve learned to face this and just be more human about it. It’s ok that I’m scared, but if I want to be better at what I do I should do this. My fear of teaching is around talking in front of people who I don’t know. But none of us know each other yet. After our course, we should know each other quite well and all leave with some fresh ideas.
Do you have any extra tips to share that help you cope with being outside of your comfort zone?
Image credit – both my own. Featured image is from a walk to the top of Old Harry Rocks – where you get a real sense of being on the edge of the world and where you could fall off at any moment :). And a family day trip to climb a very big tree!