Since launching my own Confident Conversations podcast (and fixing the technical issue that stopped Elaine from listening on her phone), I have been listening to lots of others. In the past, I would switch on the TV when I did a pile of ironing, now I find a podcast to while away the time.
One podcast got me thinking about living in your comfort zone. Last week, with it being my 5th anniversary in business, I summarised my year. As I reflect on the past 12 months, for much of the time, I am well within my comfort zone. It’s a nice place to be. I feel relaxed, I feel comfortable, and it feels easy.
An opportunity to learn and grow
However when I take myself out of my comfort zone, it feels scary but it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. For example my first appearance on BBC Radio was nerve-wracking yet now I feel very relaxed every time I am on Sky News. The first time that I stood up to talk was daunting and now I love presenting on stage. The first time that I rode to work on my motorbike through the Blackwall Tunnel, I was petrified. I survived and carried on commuting on the motorbike for many years.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
You’ve heard me share the Susan Jeffers quote “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. The interesting thing about fear and taking yourself outside of your comfort zone, THIS is how you grow. The first time you manage a meeting; the first time you pitch to a client; the first time you disagree with your CEO; your first networking meeting; your first interview … when you have done it once, you can do it again.
What’s fascinating is that if you stretch your comfort zone in one area of your life, your comfort zone expands in other areas of your life too. During The Confident Mother online conference, IT Manager Cath Robinson talked about how she had got over huge self doubts at work: “The key thing to finding my self-belief was breaking out of my comfort zone”. Both outside work on the mountain bike trails and in work too. Her top tip was to “Go through the discomfort”.
You really do gain in confidence from just giving it a go. Whatever ‘it’ might be. Stepping outside of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be risky or a huge undertaking. You can start by trying something new or doing something familiar in a different way. Notice what you notice about the experience. And don’t be put off if it doesn’t work out the way you’d expected.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that you need to be constantly breaking out of your comfort zone. That would be way too stressful. It’s good to spend time in your comfort zone where you feel good, you feel certain, you feel relaxed and you grow in confidence. But don’t live there full-time because then you get complacent. Lethargic. Boring even. Take some mini excursions from time to time so that your comfort zone, your feel-good zone, grows and expands.