We all experience it. Those moments when we’d rather hide than face an uncomfortable situation. Stepping out of your comfort zone is not always easy, but when you do, you’ll feel really good about it. You’ll expand your reach with new confidence and experience.
It’s important to understand what makes you uncomfortable. If you’re providing feedback on someone’s work for the first time, are you worried about how they’ll respond? Are you scheduled to chair a meeting and afraid you won’t get through your agenda items? Will the meeting go sideways on you? Are your friends going cliff diving and you don’t want to go, but feel compelled?
Whatever the situation, there’s a reason you feel this way. What is it? Understanding the what will help you develop solutions to ease your discomfort.
I don’t always step out of my comfort zone, but when I do, I feel good about it!
But what if you don’t try? Routine can put you at ease. It can make you so comfortable you no longer experience new things, develop and grow. You may even experience boredom or worst yet, become boring!
Here are some ideas to help you step out of your comfort zone.
Acknowledge the discomfort. It’s real. Pretending you’re not uncomfortable will only make you more uncomfortable and give you more to worry about!
Clear a path to positivity. Think about the ideas bouncing around in your head at that moment. I’m going to guess that most of them are negative possibilities. Instead of dreading what might go wrong, think of all the wonderful things that might go right… all the things that will contribute to your growth. You may not want to cliff dive from the top, but maybe a friend will join you on a lower plateau?
Think of similar situations. I remember a time when I was going to deliver a presentation to a group of strangers. I was uncomfortable. Then I saw someone I knew in the audience — a senior leader. Now I was really nervous! It was 10 minutes before my turn to speak and all I could think about was how to get out of presenting. I felt more judged by someone I knew than anyone else in the room. There was no way out. The presentation went well. I survived and I learned from the feedback. Also, I was able to get more candid feedback from the leader in the room. It was a win for me.
Write things down. If you’re approaching a project or writing assignment that’s outside of your comfort zone, think about writing down the bits of information you know. I call this brain dumping. Getting the information down will affirm you’re knowledgeable and show you where you might want to dig a little deeper for information.
Take the time to relax. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Focus your mind in other places. Whatever it takes. When you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone, you’ll have a fresh outlook to prepare you.
Look for growth opportunities. There are numerous resources to help you develop your skills. For example, if you’re uncomfortable speaking in front of a group or need to tune up your leadership or mentoring skills, Toastmasters International is an excellent resource. There’s a good chance that there’s a club near you.
Just do it. I read that if you feel uncomfortable, you must be doing something right, so dive in and do something that’s out of your comfort zone!