INCREASING CAPACITYIf we think of the concept of leaving our comfort zone in the context of athletics and fitness, it’s quite simple to see how it works. Early on, you have a set capacity – this is the limit of your current potential in this area of your life. If you stay well below your capacity and never test it, your behaviors will become automatic, mechanical and boring. Because they are no longer testing you, your body will stop adapting and stay in almost complete homeostasis – balanced but stagnant and never progressing. Growth is exactly the opposite and requires us to inch closer and closer to our capacity and going to a place where we experience the powerful, universal force called resistance.
THE FEEDBACK MECHANISMResistance, as detailed unbelievably in Stephen Pressfield’s War Of Art, is a feedback mechanism that lets us know we’re doing something right. Specifically, the emotions of fear and avoidance are signs that there is something incredible to be earned, achieved or learned by pushing through this force that holds most of us back. The truth is, most people experience resistance and run away from it on a daily basis, using the amazing power of our brains to rationalize why it made sense to. Think of one time in your life where you were compelled to have a conversation with a stranger – perhaps you were at a networking event or even at a coffee shop. At the last second, you experienced resistance – doubts and thoughts about what the other person may think, if the context was right and maybe even if they would notice the stain on your shirt. But you pushed through anyway and established a connection that was empowering and almost impossible to have even remotely imagined before you took action. This small, seemingly insignificant example shows the power of pushing through and taking action regardless of how you feel.
TRANSCENDING THE FOUR BARRIERSThoughts, feelings, moods and emotions are the four main mental triggers that hold us back from breaking through our comfort zones. The truth is most people live in their own thoughts and heads, which are largely unexamined, meaning, we never ask the simple question: Is that true? Say, the person who wants to launch a business, gets passionate and excited with a business plan and recruits the help of others but then sets out on a Monday to start creating and may have the following: “I can’t do this…” “Who am I to create this?” “I don’t feel great, I have low energy.” We’ve all been there and it’s a daily experience. What you need to know is that no one is immune to these self-sabotaging thoughts – from the highest achiever in your industry or anyone else you look up to who seems half normal and half out of the latest Avengers flick. The only difference is answering the question: Are you listening to these thoughts, feelings, moods and emotions? As time goes on and your behavior transcends the four barriers, you’ll gain both momentum and confidence. The voices of doubts won’t completely leave you, that’s impossible – but what will happen is they will be drowned out by positive and empowering ones instead and you’ll create an internal snowball of success that you’re able to prove to yourself time and time again.
OBLITERING THE COMFORT ZONEThe next step is to harness the comfort zone killer, which is simply to take action. Susan Jeffers describes this in her book, Feel The Fear And Do it Anyway by saying: “Every time you encounter something that forces you to “handle it,” your self-esteem is raised considerably. You learn to trust that you will survive, no matter what happens. And in this way your fears are diminished immeasurably.” Taking action will begin to change the way you perceive and handle fear on a daily basis –both at a micro level and macro level for your life. For example…
- You’ve been researching a fitness program or gym and keep putting off the day and time to show up to the gym.
- You experienced a conflict with a co-worker or boss and instead of having the conversation that will clear it, you’ve gone to avoidance.
- You say want to become a public speaker but keep avoiding the weekly Toastermaster’s meeting you identified as being the first step to getting rolling.
5 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE TODAYWe’ve gone through the importance of stretching your life’s rubber band, continuing to practice by taking action and now it’s time to get practical so you can incorporate this into your life and not have it be more information that goes unused. Here are 5 ways to start moving forward with getting uncomfortable in your life:
- Define one fear and face it. Pick something: maybe it’s sharing a vulnerable moment, public speaking or doing something adventurous. Write it down and put it out into the world – commit to it by setting a date, paying someone (if there’s a financial component) and working towards it.
- Do one small action that scares you every day. You’ve likely heard of this before, but establishing this as part of your daily routine will re-wire the way you think about fear, failure and your personal growth. Keep it practical and manageable, maybe you talk to 1 stranger every day and establish a connection with them.
- Understand what’s holding you back and write it down. If you have a fear of launching and creating your own business, write down every single reason why you’re being held back. Getting these thoughts out of your own head is crucial for you to move forward with it.
- Take each component of #3 and break it down. First, ask yourself if it really is an obstacle or if it’s an opportunity. Then, create 2-5 resources or actions you could take to breakthrough it – such as leveraging your network, asking for help, studying someone who’s doing it and more.
- Embrace and re-frame failure. Lastly, embracing failure and having fun with it is a crucial way of not taking everything so seriously. Failure is simply feedback – it allows you to learn on the fly instead of analyzing and dreaming what may or may not happen. Plus, rejection isn’t so bad…just ask Jia Jang who set out to be rejected for 100 days straight in his book, Rejection Proof.