If you want to succeed then you need get out of your comfort zone. Period. That means opening yourself up to failure.
Today some people will put themselves in uncomfortable positions and will venture out of their comfort zone. And in two, three or even five years – it will pass by very fast – they will have achieved great things because they’ve repeatedly pushed themselves and raised their personal bar.
Your biggest risk is becoming comfortable with your present situation and not daring. You know who you are when you read this. If life is on auto-pilot and everything is relatively smooth, easy and predictable, and you’re not truly challenging yourself, then you’re not going to grow and rise.
If you want to succeed and live an epic life then you must risk and face failure. And the more you fail the more you’re likely to succeed.
In fact it’s so important it’s worth repeating: if you’re not willing to fail don’t expect to achieve anything remarkable.
Now is a great time to start
The great thing is that it’s a habit that can be learned. At any age. At any time. In any place. You can start by putting yourself in uncomfortable positions right after reading this post. Best of all, the more you do it now the more you’ll push yourself later on. It eventually becomes second nature and you’ll find you’re always looking to push boundaries.
On to practical advice.
The following exercises should help put you out of your comfort zone:
The chat: the next time you’re sitting next to someone you don’t know, start a conversation. Simple as that. If you’re nice, friendly and don’t give off the impression that you’re out to get something then you should be fine. Some people will dismiss you and think you’re strange but that’s fine. Try again with someone else. Think of all the people we sit or stand next to in our everyday life that we never meet. Who knows, you may get along and become friends or more. Get in the habit and you’ll open many more doors in life this way. Get comfortable meeting new people. I do it all the time and as a result I’ve met lots of amazing people I would have otherwise never gotten to know. You can be flexible with this exercise. For instance, maybe there’s a cute man or woman you see every day but never had to courage to speak to. Well it’s now time. Do it.
[Note: even if you’re polite and courteous someone may take your approach the wrong way and get annoyed. That’s fine. You have to deal with it. Don’t take it personally. Move on. If you want to avoid all uncomfortable situations then you can always move to a faraway tropical island and stay in your bungalow away from the world. But if you want to make a name for yourself, become a dealmaker and do great things then get ready to be pushed in ways you may not like, put in uncomfortable situations and deal with unpleasant people.]
The eyes: do you make enough eye contact with people when you speak to them? Well from now on, try and make sure to maintain eye contact. You may find it to be quite an uncomfortable feeling. Again, that’s fine. There’s something very personal about looking into someone’s eyes. If it’s something you struggle with then you need to overcome it. Start slowly and with practice you’ll gradually gain comfort. You’ll figure out what works best for you. Some of you may discover you actually avoid eye contact altogether. More reason to break that habit and build up the confidence to do it right. Being able to maintain eye contact can make you more powerful than you imagine. Pay attention to this when you communicate with others.
[Note: by no means are you meant to stare at people without blinking or lifting your eyes off of theirs – you don’t want to look like a psychopath. Everything in moderation.]
Speak up when you don’t want to: speak up when things are not right. For instance, if you’re in a restaurant and you’ve ordered a meal but the food is not to your liking then learn to speak up. The idea isn’t to send food back all the time just for the sake of it but to get out of your comfort zone when you’re meant to. There are times you know you should say something but you hesitate, perhaps out of fear. Overcome it.
Your to do list: what are things you could do in order to get out of your comfort zone? What is it you avoid doing or confronting as a result? Write it down. Then next to each item write down what you can do to push yourself a little bit to overcome it. Getting out your comfort zone can apply to almost anything, including:
- Speaking in public: could be a small or large crowd
- Learning to approach someone you like: would it be nice if you could just walk up and chat to the person you like? Or perhaps just start with a little smile
- Dancing: can you do it in front of others without having to be completely inebriated
- Food: rather than eating the same set of 4 or 5 dishes you always have why not try a completely different type of cuisine? Taste something new
- Travel: discovering a new place, all alone maybe, and being forced to make conversation, meet people and explore. It could mean going abroad, to the next town or even visiting an area nearby you’ve never taken time to see
- Physical activities: many centers offer free or discounted first-time trials. Why not take advantage and sign up to one? There’s so much to choose from: hot yoga; swing dancing; indoor rock climbing; boxing. Try something new. Sign up to marathon (or half marathon), swimathon or other challenge. Create your own challenge, adventure or race, and organize it and invite others to join you (give it a name and who knows maybe it will become a regular thing and turn out to be a global sensation)
Arts: you may do very little that touches on the arts but believe me there is something for everyone in this space. Ever been to a theatre play? If not, then get tickets and attend. It’s one of the most moving performances you can witness live (few things give me as much pleasure); go to a local art fair and chat with some of the artists and learn about their craft. Even better, take an theatre or drama course. It may sound frightening but, having done it, it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do. It will be help you in both your personal and professional life
There is not a single self-made business titan who’s gotten where they are without getting out of their comfort zone. Believe me. So remember, start small and grow incrementally. It adds up.