breaking through your comfort zone

flickr photo courtesy: tourist_on_earth

In your life of business, you either keep moving forward, or you are left behind. Moving forward usually involves moving out of your comfort zone. It means doing something you haven’t done before. It means you’ll be uncomfortable and maybe even afraid. It involves taking risk.

As someone who has broken through many levels of comfort zones, I know this can be very difficult, especially if you see yourself as risk averse. There is a way to expand your comfort zone without jumping off a bridge or creating unnecessary stress.

1. Recognize past successes.

Your mindset is your most powerful weapon agains the fear of taking risks. We have all had past successes in breaking through or comfort zones. You would not be where you are right now if you had not! What we usually are not good at is recognizing those successes. Step 1 is to write down or collect your past successes. When have you learned a new skill? Landed a client? Done something new? Each of these are successes.

Keep a portfolio of successes your successes to remind you that you can and will continue to break through your comfort zone. A portfolio of success that remind you that you have skills, knowledge, experiences that will benefit others.

2. Choose to win.

We are all taught that choices are win / lose or right / wrong. The truth is that choices are plan A or plan B. Neither is right nor wrong. If your choice does not turn out as you expected: first learn from the experience both about yourself and the situation; second, make a course correction based on this new information! You are now more knowledgable than you were before you made the choice and took the action! Hazzah!

Special note: it is not always easy to retrain your brain into looking at every situation as an opportunity. Therefore I recommend reviewing unexpected results with a coach or mentor. She will help you reframe the situation and get the most out of it.

3. Take Calculated Risks.

Instead of taking that huge leap from you current comfort zone into a new one, make small changes (risks) that build on one another.

Example: I am new to the area and decide to join a professional networking organization. The group is having a monthly networking meeting that I decided to attend. I am not familiar with this organization nor the culture of the town. I am definitely outside of my comfort zone!

Risk 1. At the first event, I introduce myself to the person sitting next to me. We have a meaningful conversation. I have 1 new person in my network.

Risk 2. At the next meeting, I again introduce myself to the person sitting next to me (a different person). PLUS I introduce myself to the event organizer or speaker and engage in a meaningful but short discussion. I have an additional 2 people in my network from this meeting. Now I have 3 contacts in total.

Risk 3. I do both step 1 and 2 PLUS I stay after the formal event and talk with the 3 people I already know from prior meetings and ask them each to introduce me to someone I do not know. I now have a total of 8 new network connections.

I have broken through my comfort zone. By taking one small action at a time, practicing that action, and then taking the next action I have expanded my comfort zone.

With each successful risk you take, your confidence will grow. The more your confidence grows, the more risks you can take. Each of these small risks adds up to the next level – expanding your comfort zone!

What will you do next?