How Do We Get Outside Our Comfort Zone?
YOU'VE NO DOUBT HEARD that it is outside our comfort zone where the magic happens. But how do we get outside our comfort zone? It’s not always easy in some cases too stressful to consider.
Andy Molinsky gives us some practical first steps in Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence.
We often fail to get outside our comfort zone because of the feeling that it’s too big a reach (which is why they’re outside your comfort zone): “It’s not me,” “People won’t like this version of me,” “It’s embarrassing because I’m clearly not good at this,” “Why should I have to do this,” and/or “Maybe this isn’t something I should be doing.” So commonly, we do nothing. We avoid it altogether. Or we only do it half-heartedly. All of these things sabotage our efforts.
So the question to ask yourself is, "If I could erase the anxiety and distress, is it something I’d like to be able to do?"
Molinsky has interviewed and also observed people in many different professions and walks of life. And the stories he includes from managers, executives, priests, baristas, stay-at-home-moms, singers, actors and performers, are helpful and relatable. And although these people are very different, there is a common theme. He has found that those most successful at getting outside of their comfort zones have three things going for them:
Conviction—Making Sure the Gain is Worth the Discomfort
It’s a deep sense of purpose that it’s actually worth it to endure the strain or stress entailed in stepping outside your comfort zone. This is the “why am I doing this?” And that can come from anywhere.
Customization—Designing a Personalized Baby-Step Plan
This is the ability to tweak or adjust in often very slight ways how you perform a task to make it feel more comfortable and natural. When facing difficult situations we often feel powerless, but we can alter situations to play to our strengths. For example, we can change the words we use or the topics we talk about, change our body language, or change the timing or location.
Clarity—Getting Some Perspective on Your Fears
Clarity is the ability to develop an even-handed, reasonable perspective on the challenges you face. “It is an attempt to be as true as possible with ourselves about the situations we’re currently working on, taking a careful inventory of our true feelings—even if we’re embarrassed by them—as well as an inventory of our avoidance strategies.” In other words, to not succumb to the distorted and exaggerated thinking so many of us do in very stressful situations. It may not really be as far outside of our comfort zones as we imagine.
Here are Five Comfort Zone Myths to consider:
Myth #1: All it takes to step outside your comfort zone is taking a leap.
Reality: Very few people spontaneously “leap” outside their comfort zones; rather, that leap is the result of considerable thinking and deliberation.
Myth #2: The “magic” only happens outside your comfort zone.
Reality: The “magic” can happen both inside and outside your comfort zone.
Myth #3: I’m the only one who struggles with situations outside my comfort zone.
Reality: Nearly everyone struggles with situations outside their comfort zones.
Myth #4: Getting out of your comfort zone is just about “sucking it up.”
Reality: “Sucking it up” is important, but so too are other strategies which, in fact, can ultimately make ‘sucking it up’ less necessary.
Myth #5: With enough inspiration, anyone can stretch outside their comfort zone.
Reality: Anyone can do it, but it takes more than inspiration; it takes effort, persistence, strategy, and a keen understanding of the challenges.
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